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Bojan Bogdanovic talks back to Salt Lake and time with Utah Jazz

Early in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s Utah Jazz game against the Detroit Pistons, Jordan Clarkson made a save for Bojan Bogdanovic and knocked the ball away from his former teammate. Bogdanovic fell during the game and the ball went wide from Jazz.

Clarkson held out his hands to help Bogdanovic up and when Bogdanovic was back on his feet, the two laughed and hugged.

The crowd responded with an audible “awws” followed by applause.

Bogdanovic and Clarkson had roleplayed on a jazz team that had legitimate NBA stars for the past three years, but the two still managed to endear themselves to the fan base in unique ways.

While Clarkson was the fun-loving, cool vibes player, Bogdanovic was more of an enigma and that’s one of the reasons everyone loved him so much.

“He’s like mysterious,” Clarkson said, laughing. “I have a feeling none of you really know him. You don’t know what he did after that (he would leave the practice.) He might have run 40 (Fortune) 500 Wall Street companies, way back, posted. Or maybe he ran 80 grocery chains that are big here. … Sometimes he came in with the duffel bag – you don’t know what’s in it. is it full of cash You do not know!”

Jokes aside, the main reason Bogdanovic was so popular with his teammates and fans was his reliability.

“All I know is that he’s a boss and he gets it done, and that’s always my guy,” Clarkson said. “We always knew he would give us over 20 a night. He would never have a night off, and when he did, it was like 18. It was never like, ‘Man, Bogey just played awful tonight.’ He always brings it to the table.”

Bogdanovic became the first of the four off-season traded starters to return to Vivint this season and said it was strange to come back and see how different things were. The arena has been redesigned, the colors are different, the team is completely different, there is a new coach.

Bogdanovic doesn’t remember it clearly and he’s certainly not used to being in the visitors’ dressing room. But there were some things that were known.

“It’s kind of weird being in that dressing room, it’s great, great to see my friends’ faces,” he said. “There’s the coaching staff and the guys from the weight room who are all still here and there are still (four players) left from when I was here. It’s always great to see old friends.”

The last remaining players from this team are Clarkson, Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Udoka Azubuike, all of whom were able to briefly spend time with Bogdanovic in the Jazz’s dressing room earlier in the night before hugging again on the pitch.

Conley said all the same things Clarkson did about Bogdanovic. How dependable he was, how smart he was on the pitch and how you could count on him to always shine in big moments. Conley also said he feels fortunate to be one of the few players in the league to share a ritual handshake with Bogdanovic before the game.

“He said he doesn’t shake hands with anyone,” Conley said, recalling the birth of the ritual. “When I was traded here and he first signed here and we had our press conference in Vegas, I got to know him a little bit and was like, ‘Hey, since we’re the new guys, we’ve got to come up with a handshake or something .’ I didn’t know at the time that he wasn’t really coming down. But he stuck to it and we made up quickly.”

Conley appreciated Bogdanovic’s calm and reserved approach to everyday life – an attitude with which Conley could identify. Both players saw all the changes that took place on the roster over the summer and waited on the phone, expecting to be the next to receive a call to tell them they too had been traded.

“And then the call came to me and not to him,” said Bogdanovic.

He’s still thinking about what might have been if he hadn’t had season-ending wrist surgery before the Orlando bubble restarted in 2020, and what might have been with the 2021 team if Conley and Donovan Mitchell were in would not have been injured in the playoffs.

But no matter what happened, Bogdanovic said he will always have fond memories of being a jazz man.

“Big time,” he said. “I mean, this is one of the best organizations in the league. It’s quite a family atmosphere and I was really happy and honored to be part of this organization. And I still think jazz has some of the best fans in the league.”

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