Jazz players ‘sneaking’ around: Gotta be the shoes!

It’s gotta be the shoes!

Yes, that’s a tag line from a famous Nike ad campaign featuring Michael Jordan and Spike Lee (as Mars Blackmon) but it quickly became the theme of the Jazz’s shootaround Saturday morning at EnergySolutions Arena.

Because the Jazz will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing their green alternate uniforms for tonight’s game vs. the Memphis Grizzlies, players were greeted with the green gear at their lockers … that included shoes.

Following shootaround several players walked out wearing their green sneakers.

“I guess that’s what’s going on,” said center Al Jefferson, a 2004 first-round draft pick of the leprechaun-loving Boston Celtics. “I just walked into the locker (room) and I saw green (a) uniform and green shoes. So I put ‘em on.”

Teamamte Gordon Hayward wore some sweet neon green Nikes, the kind he isn’t likely to wear in an actual game.

He said wasn’t thinking about St. Patrick’s Day when he put them on.

“Happens to be everyone’s color choice today,” he said.

Forward Marvin Williams said he saw the green shoes but probably won’t be wearing them. He’s not anti-St. Patrick’s Day, of course, just anti-new shoes.

“They sent me some green ones but they weren’t the ones I normally wear,” he said. “I don’t really like wearing new shoes anyway. I’ve been wearing the same shoes for probably the last few months. I’ll probably come out with the same ones I normally wear.”

That prompted questions about the shoe-wearing habits of NBA players.

While Marvin Williams doesn’t like to switch shoes, teammate Mo Williams said he changes often.

“I can’t go probably two or three games (without changing),” Mo said. “I move around too much in my shoes so I have to change mine. It’s not too comfortable playing more than three or four games.”

Mo said he likes his shoes tight and therefor goes through several pairs during the season.

“Once you wear a pair of shoes you break them in and they get more loose,” he said. “I like my shoes a little more firm.”

Marvin take the opposite approach.

“I try to wear them until they’re just completely done,” he said.

He said he’s been wearing the same pair for the past couple of months and hopes to finish out the season with them.

“I don’t like putting on new shoes because they make my feet hurt,” he added. “I’ve had (teammates) who change them every few games; I’ve had teammates that change them at halftime. It just depends on how you feel.”

The bottom line here is: It must be nice playing in the NBA, where shoe company reps take really good care of players and their feet. While the folks who play down at the local rec center or church house shell out big bucks for new basketball shoes, the guys lucky enough to play in the NBA can go through as many — or as few — pairs as they want during a season.

They’re privileged that way because millions of fans watching them play take notice of the brand they’re wearing and the shoe game is a cutthroat business.

After all, they’ve gotta sell the shoes.

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About Jim Burton

Jim Burton has worked for the Standard-Examiner since 1991. He has covered everything from the preps to Utah, BYU, Weber State and the Ogden Raptors. Currently he is the Standard's Utah Jazz beatwriter and its sports columnist.
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