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What Jazz players have learned about culture and character during season of uncertainty

Chicago Bulls center Andre Drummond gets up a shot with Utah Jazz center Omer Yurtseven defending as the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls play at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Bulls won 119-117.

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The other day, Utah Jazz reserve center Ömer Yurtseven said something really interesting when asked about the culture and identity of the Jazz.

“Every team, every year, I feel like it demands different things from you,” he said. “Same thing with any culture. Whatever the year demands, that’s the personality trait that the year will make you show.”

So let’s just face it. This is not a winning culture. This is not a year that demands winning habits — the kind of habits that are formed with a consistent roster, rotation and with a legitimate hope at something beyond the regular season. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has thought that all culture and identity building have been wasted this season.

But, as Yurtseven continued, he made me rethink some of my previous impressions.

“I think this year has been about persistence and just staying with it, no matter what,” he said.

That could be seen as a bit of a sports cliche and a throwaway comment, but Yurtseven is a very thoughtful person and he doesn’t throw away words. As I digested this idea more, it made me focus more on the individual situations this season.

The players on this team have been thrown curveballs consistently, and whether they are a part of the Jazz’s future or not, they will likely be better people for what they went through, last season or this season.

Not knowing when or how playing time will be distributed, who will be on the roster from one day to the next, what direction the team will be headed and everything in between can certainly be difficult, and it can break certain people. But those that are able to look at this as a growing experience could end up coming out on the other side having built some real character.

So maybe we don’t know what the culture or identity of this new era of the Jazz will be, but we know that the players are being forged in fire and will be made of tougher stuff and ready to roll with the punches, no matter what.

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