(KUTV) — The 40th season of the Utah Jazz kicked off with fun and games at the Road to Tipoff presented by KUTV 2News on Friday night.
The free community event offered games and activities to the fans by allowing them to interact with players, the Junior Jazz, the Jazz Dancers, the Jazz Dunk Team and the Jazz Bear.
Jazz coaching staff and players were interviewed in between the events on the court later in the evening.
"Everyone has an opportunity to be better..." said Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder during his interview before the players' events.
The identity of our team can continue to grow.
After the players stretched and practiced some shooting with the help of the Jazz Bear standing on the hoop, the Utah Jazz began with the first of two basketball-shooting contests - the three-pointer shootout, where players were split into two-man teams consisting of a big man and a guard or wing player. The first contest began with newcomer Guard Grayson Allen, No. 24, against Point Guard Naz Mitrou-Long, No. 30.
Halfway through the three-pointer shootout, Center Rudy Gobert, No. 27, received his award for being the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
During his interview on the court, Gobert said work and trust are the two things that will help the Utah Jazz succeed in the 2018-2019 season.
Following Gobert's award ceremony, the rookies wooed the fans with a small dance-off before resuming the three-pointer shootout. The winning team of the three pointer shootout was Foward Georges Niang, No. 31, and Mitrou-Long, who both defeated finalists Forward Jae Crowder, No. 99, and Forward Royce O'Neale, No. 23.
Mitrou-Long said in his interview after winning the first contest that the Utah Jazz has the "best fans in the country." Earlier in the contest, Guard Donovan Mitchell, No, 45, also held the same sentiment, mentioning that they're the "most passionate" fanbase.
Thousands came to the Viviant Smart Home Arena for fan night, and many said they were optimistic the coming NBA season would be a great one for the Utah Jazz.
“I think it's going to be a really good year, I think they're going to do really good,” fan Barbara Wilcox said.
The second event was a half-court shooting contest, and this is where friendly trash talk began between players while Forward Joe Ingles, No. 2, commentated. Mitchell and Center/Power Forward Tyler Cavanaugh, No. 34, were the only players to successfully make their half-court shots, but couldn't repeat their amazing skills for the tiebreaker.
Before the players finished the final contest, they helped out superfan Wyatt dunk the final shot of the night, which was followed by the Jazz Dancers and players giving away mini basketballs to remember the night.
The Jazz will play the Perth Wildcats, from Australia, at Vivint on Saturday night.
On Tuesday they will host the Toronto Raptors for their first pre-season action against an NBA team.