He enters the game to the sound of high-pitched screams, the kind of reception usually reserved for teeny-bopper stars like
They have come to see
Fortunately, Korver, 27, also brings something else to the table: a reliable long-range jump shot, which (sorry, ladies) was the primary reason Utah acquired him from the 76ers for
"Kyle is ready-made for a person like Jerry Sloan," Pacers coach
While several Western Conference powers were performing reconstructive surgery on their rosters before the trade deadline, Utah remained happy with its facelift. The deal for Korver, coupled with the departure of
"When nobody calls, you don't make a lot of trades," Sloan said. "We're a young team and we're trying to get better together."
Still, there is little question that by picking up Korver, the Jazz addressed what was their most glaring deficiency. Prior to the trade, Utah ranked second to last in the NBA in three-point field goals and its top threat from beyond the arc was its starting center (
"Even if he is not making shots," Hornets coach
While a brutal December schedule contributed to Utah's slow start (16-16), Korver's silky-smooth release has helped the Jazz reemerge as a popular dark-horse pick to win the West. Since adding Korver, the Jazz have gone 36-10 to jump from a tie for ninth to the fourth seed in the conference standings (Utah clinched the Northwest Division title Tuesday).
"He's a magnet to the ball," Nets coach
His reliable jump shot alone would probably be enough to make Korver stand out in any NBA town, but in Salt Lake City, the unofficial religious capital of the United States, Korver's popularity runs even deeper. His father,
"He has been one of the most quickly embraced players I have ever seen," Rigby said. "This is a very religious market and people are impressed that he is a God-fearing guy."
On the wall of senior pastor Kevin Korver's office in the Third Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa -- located in the south-central part of the state and the childhood home of
"I honestly don't know which color belongs to which kid anymore," Kevin said. "I count on my wife to remind me."
The Korvers are legends in the Hawkeye State. Dubbed Iowa's first family of basketball by
"If the Korvers aren't the first family of Iowa basketball," said
Despite having children scattered throughout the country, the Korvers do their best to remain a close-knit family. Nearly every day during the season, Kevin and Laine will hop in the family minivan and drive to one of their sons' games. Some afternoons they will make the three-hour trip to Omaha, Neb., on the Iowa-Nebraska border, to see Kaleb's Bluejays. On others they will travel 45 minutes to Des Moines to watch Klayton's Bulldogs. "We see a lot of corn," Kevin said. They have even loaded up the car and made the 1,055-mile, 17-hour drive to Philadelphia to see Kyle play for the 76ers, passing the time by listening to scripture on tape.
"We have to get a new van every few years," Kevin said. "Once it hits 200,000 miles, it's time for a change."
Said Klayton: "We've tried to get them to buy an SUV or something. It's Mom -- she just loves the van."
The brothers communicate through phone calls and text messages on a daily basis. In January, Kyle received permission from the Jazz to fly to Omaha on an off-day for the Drake-Creighton game, the first collegiate matchup between his younger brothers. (The visiting Bulldogs won 68-60 in overtime; Klayton scored a game-high 14 points while Kaleb chipped in seven in just 15 minutes.)
"It reminded me of home," Kyle said. "I was so proud of them."
Just before Christmas the entire Korver clan reunited in Philadelphia, where, Laine included, they engaged in a spirited shooting contest at the 76ers' practice facility. "Everyone took turns winning," Kevin said. "But when there was money on the line, Kyle won."
The competition among the boys extends to everything from playing Pepper, a strategic card game, on family vacations ("That can get a little intense," Kevin said) to doing pull-ups at the local gym. "Kyle always wins at that," Klayton said. "But it's only because he goes last."
The six will not be able to get together again until sometime this spring. The family has yet to make a trip to Salt Lake City but, Kevin said, "We're hoping to get there for the playoffs." Now that Kyle has become another weapon in the Jazz's arsenal, bolstering an already strong team, the Korvers figure to have plenty of opportunities to drop in for a postseason visit.