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We Are Wally: The Downbeat #1528

Today we remember a Utah Jazz legend and compare Rudy Gobert to a New York Knicks legend.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows I keep a cool glass of #hatehard out for Trey Burke.  But the man has showed up big the last few games.

Now this is before the dreaded San Antonio Spurs game but Trey Burke's numbers are improving.  He's looking like a solid piece out on the floor.  The best part about Trey's improvement is it allows Dante Exum not to be thrust into the spotlight too early.  THANK THE BASKETBALL GODS.  Because Dante has looked dreadful.

As Zach Harper has pointed out Rudy Gobert's night in San Antonio is very unique.

1 Patrick Ewing 38-175 C-F 2001-01-27 SEA NJN W 1 29 6 13 .462 6 13 .462 0 0 6 6 1.000 1 17 18 1 1 4 1 4 18 19.0
2 Rudy Gobert 22-206 F-C 2015-01-18 UTA @ SAS L 0 29 5 10 .500 5 10 .500 0 0 3 5 .600 7 11 18 2 0 4 1 1 13 18.2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/20/2015.

The Rudy Gobert effect is now translating to other player's offense.  It seems so long ago when there were questions about how others would play offensively with Gobert in the game.  Now it appears, they need him as David Locke points out.

As many have pointed out, Rudy was the only one who didn't look overmatched against the Spurs.  He looked ready and prepared.  And the national media is noticing.

Gordon Hayward's improvement is amazing to see.  The unfortunate thing is he most likely won't be in the All-Star game.  Sad but true.  The Utah Jazz are a lottery team that gets little to no national attention and they don't have a single spotlight shining bright on the team.  Players like Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors won't get a national audience unless you beat the Knicks or Cavaliers as they did early in the season (when beating the Knicks or Cavaliers meant something).  Amar brought up Gordon Hayward's All-Star-ish play here:

I think Gordon is playing well, but after looking at how well the other players are doing this season, I don't think I can argue for Gordon's inclusion unless I'm wearing my Jazz homer hat. He has improved quite a bit from last year (and I have the Synergy Stats to support that idea, and that post is dropping tomorrow).

Wally Price, long-time usher of the Utah Jazz, passed away last night at the age of 98 years old.  If you have gone to a Jazz game in the last 34 years there's a good chance you've had your ticket inspected by Wally Price.  Doug Robinson of the Deseret News wrote this of Wally Price 8 years ago:

David Robinson and Pat Ewing used to visit him every time they were in the building. Charles Barkley hugged him. Thurl Bailey gives him a kiss on his bald head at every home game. Coaches, players, team execs, season-ticket holders all go out of their way to chat him up and pump the little man's hand. He calls them all his friends. And the ladies? Let's just say that this guy has collected more hugs than Bert Parks and Richard Dawson combined.
Sometimes he dispenses advice. He told one couple that he wanted to see them holding hands whenever they entered the arena, and sure enough, as they entered the building one night last week, they were complying with his request. He asked one unnamed Jazz player if he told his wife he loved her every day. When the wife shook her head, Wally told the player he would ask him the same question every time he showed up for a game. When the player retired, his wife thanked Wally and said the advice had helped their marriage. Old Wally's eyes welled with tears.

Wally would say about his ushering, "If I didn't do this, I'd be dead."

Wally will be missed.  He was an icon around the arena.  My father would point him out when we would go to Jazz games.  He was part of the visit to the Delta Center.  He was uniquely special.

On game nights, he [Wally] arrives at the arena two hours before tip-off and reports immediately to the Jazz locker room to visit the troops (years ago Jazz players would seek him out if they missed his visit, as if he were a good-luck charm). Then he grabs a Coke and walks slowly to his station, which is known as Wally's Wall.

The Utah Jazz are in Cleveland currently.  If you are one of the special few who get to go to the Jazz's next home game, please, go visit Wally's wall.  Go pay tribute to a man who spent his golden years around us whom he called his friends.  Take his advice.  Be good to your significant others.  Be good to everyone.  Be good to yourself.  Be happy.