OKLAHOMA CITY – Whenever former New Orleans assistant coach Darrell Walker – also an NBA guard from 1983-93 – was asked whether he was a having a good day or not, Walker liked to respond, “Every day is a good day in the league.”
But sometimes real life enters the equation for those many consider to have landed the ultimate dream job.
Pelicans center Derrick Favors’ mother, Deandra, died suddenly this week at age 55, a tragedy that the first-year New Orleans player acknowledged Wednesday with a tweet that read “I love you Mom.” On Thanksgiving, a Favors tweet featured a photo of Deandra with a young Derrick, as well as recent photos of her with her grandchildren.
Favors was traded to the Pelicans in July, but in the months since then, he’s quickly become one of the most respected players on the roster. Players expressed their thoughts for Favors and his family Friday after shootaround in Oklahoma, noting how much he means to their team.
“He’s great,” guard Jrue Holiday said. “He’s quiet, but when he speaks, it means a lot. What he says, he doesn’t waste words, so when he speaks, everyone cherishes it. Having his presence around, he has a calm demeanor that calms everybody down.”
“He’s a great teammate,” guard Frank Jackson said. “He looks out for us, gets the job done. … we definitely feel his presence when he’s here. He’s just a positive guy and someone I love to play with.”
Coach Alvin Gentry: “He’s one of those guys who doesn’t say much but doesn’t really need to. I think all the guys have a ton of respect for him and know what a big-time pro he is.”
Favors has returned to his native Atlanta area to be with family and attend Deandra’s funeral Saturday.
“I can only imagine. Thank God I haven’t had to come across that yet, where someone super close to me has passed,” Holiday said. “I feel like the type of person (Derrick) is and how close he is to his family, they’re probably embracing each other. Even in circumstances like that that are the worst, sometimes it brings people together and can mend relationships, rekindle friendships. As someone who is close to his family, family is the most important thing. For me, too.”
“There are definitely perks and different things we get to experience (as NBA players), but at the end of the day, we are human beings,” said Jackson, who watched Favors play for the Jazz while growing up in Utah. “We have our own personal lives, we have our own families. When things like this happen, you realize that things happen in life that can be so unexpected. It’s a tragedy.”
“Obviously it’s just an unbelievable tragedy,” said Gentry, who met Deandra recently. “I think sometimes we think about things that are insignificant in the real world. I feel so bad for him and his family, because we had an opportunity to meet her and know what a great lady she is.
“One thing we want (Derrick) to know is we are also his family and will do anything we can to let him know we’re there. Whatever he needs, we’ll be there.”