I had the privilege of speaking with Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack for a few minutes this week. We spoke about his first few years in the NBA, the playoffs and much more in between. Take a look at this exclusive interview only on The Real Ball Insider Network.
Pedro: “After all the success you had in college from making the NCAA All-Tournament teams in 2010 and 2011, to reaching back-to-back national title games, How hard was it to come into the league and bounce from the NBA and D-League for your first two years before you found a sturdy home in Atlanta?”
Shelvin: “It wasn’t too difficult, I always felt like I was an NBA player. I had the opportunity to work hard every day. You know, I just kind of used it as an opportunity to show my talents.”
Pedro: “Even after you landed in Atlanta you still had to prove your way by signing two 10 day contracts before you got your 2-year deal, how big of a motivation was it playing for your NBA life for 20 days? That had to add some fuel to the fire.”
Shelvin: “Yeah definitely, you know, I thank Atlanta for giving me the opportunity but that’s just the NBA. Every day you gotta fight for your life, you gotta fight for your contract, every game. Thirty guys get drafted every year in the first round, so that’s thirty new people coming in, which means thirty people are leaving. So, you gotta stay on your P’s and Q’s.”
Pedro: “Was it hard leaving Atlanta after such a solid run and the success you had while there? Or did teaming up with your old college teammate Gordon Hayward make the decision a little bit easier?”
Shelvin: “A little bit of both, I have a great relationship with those guys in Atlanta, I still talk to them frequently. I also had a great relationship with Coach Buden[holzer] and the coaching staff, I also talk to them a lot. So, it was tough go but to help my basketball career I needed to go somewhere else. The good thing about it is I ended up in Utah with Gordon and also Coach Q[uin Snyder] he was there with me in Atlanta as well, so it kind of worked.”
Pedro: “It’s awesome that you talk about Coach Quin, how influential has he been in your NBA career?”
Shelvin: “A lot, he’s always been a big believer in me. He’s given me the opportunity to go out there and showcase my talent. I’m very thankful that like I said he really believed in me, he’s given me opportunities I haven’t had in other places. Especially like last year trading for me then giving me the opportunity to start right away, I’m just trying to make the best of it.”
Pedro: “Yeah, he really looks like he believes in you by the way he’s conducting business in Utah. Let’s talk some Jazz basketball, how excited are you about this young squad? Hayward, Dante Exum, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Alec Burks, yourself, the list goes on and on. There’s some serious talent there.
Shelvin: “I’m very excited, I feel like we can do some special things. The good thing is that we finally been able to practice with the full team. George Hill has been out and he was able to practice yesterday. Like Alec Burks, he hasn’t played in like a year, you know what I mean? When you see our team on the court, there’s a lot of talent out there. There’s something there we can build on to get the momentum rolling to the right spot come the playoffs.”
Pedro: “That is a very young and talented team. Here’s my last question for you man, the million-dollar question everybody wants to know. How do you feel about the Jazz making the playoffs this year? It’s a tough Western Conference out there.”
Shelvin: “I feel pretty good about our chances as long as the team gets healthy. When we’re healthy we feel like we’re a great team. Just taking care of business, I feel like we’ve done a great job so far in the first part of the season especially with how many injuries we’ve had. I think we might be a 7th seed right now, that’s a pretty good spot to be in. Also consider we’ve only had one game with our full team played together, there’s always something going on.”
Pedro: “Alright Shelvin, I really appreciate the time, I will let you get back to getting ready for your game against the Lakers tonight. I wish you and your team the best of luck the rest of the season.”
Shelvin: “I appreciate it, thank you for having me and love to talk to you soon.”
Pedro: “Thank you and same to you. Take care.”