Aussies in NBA: Ingles talks Utah, Kobe Bryant's final game and representing Australia
Joe Ingles’ second season in the NBA has come to a close.
Jinglin’ Joe had a roller-coaster season, much like his Utah team as a whole. In his exit interview after the Jazz’s final season game, Ingles shared his thoughts on the season that was.
Asked to summarise his season personally, Ingles gave an honest assessment.
“Individually, probably a little up and down, more than I thought. Coming in, obviously I knew that my role would be different with AB [Alec Burks] back and having that full squad. It probably took me a little longer to adjust than what I probably anticipated, but I felt good.”
He continued, “I’m glad I could finish off stronger than the way I started. Overall, not too bad, obviously there’s always improvements that you can make. I’ll go and look at them and speak with these guys back here and work out what that is, come back hopefully a bit better next year.”
From a team perspective, Jingles was proud of the way his teammates battled all season long.
Obviously with the injuries that we had, I think the adversity and the way the guys stuck together was pretty impressive really.”
“I think we could easily folded in, with the situation we were in; missing three key guys and little niggles along the way with other guys. Obviously we had some goals in mind that didn’t get accomplished but I’m proud of the guys and the way we came in everyday and worked.”
Guarding Kobe Bryant for stretches during his final game was a whirlwind. Ingles showcased his trademark humour when talking about the Mamba.
I’ve never seen someone shoot 50 shots, I think that’s more than I’ve shot all season.”
“It was obviously a bit of a circus with all that was going on… It was something I think, obviously not now, but in the future, you look back on and it was something you’ll enjoy being a part of. I’ll probably be in those highlights for the rest of his life. I’ll show my kids one day.”
The focus: Rio
Ingles made it clear that the upcoming Olympics, and having the opportunity to represent Australia once again, is the main focus over the off-season.
“I’ve played for my country since I was allowed to really. I started when I was 18 and last year was the first year I hadn’t done it in 10 years… I want to play every year, I wanted to play last year to be honest, but I had some knee stuff and had it drained, and it was just better off [to rest].”
I’m definitely excited to play and it means a lot to me to represent my country, especially at an Olympic Games… I love it, I’ll continue to play for Australia until they don’t want me anymore, which might be soon because we’ve got some young guys coming through.”
When asked about fellow Aussie and Utah teammate, Dante Exum, Ingles reiterated the need for him to focus on getting back to being 100% healthy before worrying about the Boomers.
“He’s still got a long way to go obviously. He’s only just started getting back out here and running around. In terms of Boomers, that will obviously be between the Jazz, him and the Boomers guys, but he’s obviously got to get healthy first, get fit, and get back to where he can be on court and compete at the highest level.”
The road ahead
A huge difference for Ingles going into this off-season, compared to last, is that his position within the team is secure, with one year left on his two-year deal. Whilst this takes some stress away, he will still have his hands full.
“I’ve got a pretty big off-season, with the twins coming… With that and the Olympics I’m going to be pretty busy as soon as I get back. I’ve got a hormonal wife at home right now that’s waiting for me to get home.”
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