Jazz Kessler Got NBA Welcome From Damian Lillard

Oct 7, 2022, 3:27 PM | Updated: 9:08 pm
Utah Jazz Center Walker Kessler (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Walker Kessler got his welcome to the NBA moment courtesy of Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard earlier this week.

The Jazz rookie got switched on to Lillard on the perimeter during their preseason matchup on Tuesday and despite Kessler’s best defensive efforts, the former Weber State Wildcat hit a patented step-back three over the seven-footer’s outstretched arm.

“Dame is a heck of a shooter, I’m not going lie,” Kessler said. “When Dame hit that one step back on me, I couldn’t help but smile. That’s crazy.”

Kessler has had a promising start to his NBA career earning the trust of the new Jazz coaching staff as the primary backup center during the preseason and wasn’t deterred by Lillard’s hot shooting.

“I feel like that was good defense, it was a good contest having to switch out that last moment and make that late contest,” Kessler said. “He’s a heck of a shooter.”

While Lillard may have given Kessler one of his earliest “welcome to the NBA” moments, it was also a full circle experience for the Jazz center.

“I grew up watching Dame,” Kessler admitted. “I’ve got a pair of shoes in my closet.”

Kessler and Will Hardy Are Not The Same Person

One of the ongoing curiosities early during the Jazz preseason has been the subtle resemblance between Kessler and head coach Will Hardy.

Kessler acknowledged the resemblance at media, saying Hardy should be honored that the two look alike.

Hardy had been pressed on the issue but seemed a bit reticent to play along. That is however until the Jazz coach chose to dispel the rumor that nobody had ever seen he and Kessler in the same room at the same time.

During Kessler’s post-practice media session, Hardy joined the meeting to reveal that the two are in fact, different people.

Fans will get an opportunity to see the two in the same building for the first time in person when the Jazz host an open scrimmage on Saturday at Vivint Arena.

Doors open for the event at 10:30 am while those not in attendance can watch the game at utahjazz.com

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