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Clear eyes, full heart, can’t miss: Joe Ingles looks refreshed after break

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Welcome back, Joe.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Right before the All-Star Break, Joe Ingles shocked a lot of Jazz fans and the basketball world by opening up a very personal journey he and his family had been on for the last two years. That story was how his family came to understand that one of their children was on the spectrum for Autism. It was touching, it was raw, and it was authentic. Joe broke the news on an Aussie-like version of the Player’s Tribune.

It was brave and powerful. While providing those who have members of their family or friends who are on the spectrum another powerful voice and ally, Joe Ingles shared that it had been hard for him basketball-wise to focus.

We felt it was only right to share our news with Utah Jazz coach, Quin Snyder. Not because we wanted or needed things to look any different, but because we were tired, really tired. It was harder to turn up those first few days. Quin has been incredible. Honestly – we can’t thank him enough for how he has sought to support us in recent weeks.

I’m not here to summarize his words, as they should be read in his authentic voice and writing style here, it served as a reminder that a simple shooting slump can be a lot more than just “being out of rhythm.” This cathartic and very intimate detail of their family was told for two reasons, Joe said.

There are two reasons that we are sharing our story publicly.

First and foremost, we are not after sympathy. ... Awareness is so important, so we are spreading the word. ... Secondly, the situation has been hard on all of us. ... For now, we are looking forward to getting away during the All Star break, and spending some much needed time together as a family.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that suddenly realized how tired the already tired looking Dad-Bod-God had looked over the past two months. Even more so, it had been discussed among the writers at this site how Joe Ingles was having a rough start to 2019. Prior to the All-Star break in January and February Joe Ingles was shooting a very un-Ingles-like 34.5% from three. The mouth from the REAL south—Southern Hemisphere, that is—was not himself. When he dropped that post it all became clear why. There were bigger things to focus on and he and his family—more than anything—needed a break.

Upon the return from the All-Star break, I was curious how Joe Ingles would respond after having some much needed family time. Not that I think a week and a half with your family is all that is needed to recalibrate after receiving such life changing news. Nor do I think his basketball performance would get better as a result of telling the world about his family’s struggles. But would Joe look more settled on the court. Would he have that Joe spark again?

So far the answer is unequivocally yes.

Since returning from the All-Star break, it has looked like Joe Ingles is playing with clear eyes, a full heart, and he can’t miss from distance. He’s shooting 55.6% from downtown since returning while scoring 15 and 18 points against the Thunder and Mavericks. He did this on a back to back that featured a grueling Double Overtime game. If there was anyone who would have an excuse to have tired legs, it was the veteran from Australia. Instead he put up 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. That’s Playoff Jingles right there. Headband Joe, if you will.

While Joe wasn’t telling the world about his family for himself, it may have unburdened him with the heavy load his family was carrying by themselves. It reminds me of the Brene Brown quote:

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

The story of the Ingles family is at its core vulnerable, but powerful. One of the league’s foremost trash talkers talking about his family’s struggles, that’s next level. It’s the elite tier of vulnerability. They did it for others, but by doing so, Joe Ingles unlocked something he may not have anticipated: balance.

There’s something unique about bringing others and gathering support for your troubles. The challenges don’t feel as difficult and the support structure for success is enhanced. While there will inevitably be critiques about Joe’s on the court performance in the future, right now, it feels like that can wait as one of the league’s good guys is showing an amazing example of how to be a father, husband, and juggle an unconventional job as he navigates a new chapter in his family’s story.