Charlotte, N.C. For 13 Jazz players, coaches and trainers, among others, the boxes were a reward. For Utah rookie center Enes Kanter, they were temptation. A barrier Kanter could cross at anytime. But in doing so, Big Turkey would immediately suffer the wrath of Big Al.After the Jazz downed the Bobcats 99-93 on Wednesday, four extra-large boxes of Bojangles' fried chicken with sides sat atop a fold-out table, nearly within arms' reach of Al Jefferson's locker. While the Utah center discussed another huge offensive outing with the media, he paused midsentence to eye Kanter, who was contently making his way toward the promised land. Pausing six long seconds and interrupting a discussion about owning Charlotte's Bismack Biyombo in the paint, Jefferson said two words that perfectly summed up his increasingly intense and hilarious war with Kanter."Damn rookie," Jefferson said.Big Al soon finished his thought and completed his sentence. But the battle was back on. For several minutes, Jefferson publicly hounded Kanter. And while the Utah rookie was reminded all four boxes of chicken weren't just for him at the same time a teammate made fun of his too-large dress shirt, Jefferson displayed his veteran chops. Not only couldn't Kanter dig in and fill up a heaping plate, but he couldn't even eat until everyone else with at least one year of professional service had stepped up to the line and done their part to devour what one player estimated was $200 worth of chicken. As Jefferson took center stage, verbally unloading, Kanter just paced. And paced. And paced. There was no chicken for Big Turkey, and everyone from Earl Watson and Paul Millsap to Jamaal Tinsley played roles in the act. Jeremy Evans ate. Assistant coaches chowed down. Not the Turk. Cue serious laughter.Jefferson eventually hit the showers. Encouraged by Watson and Millsap, Kanter was finally allowed to dine.
Former Jazz rookies Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans got off easy during 2011-12. Their worst chore was singing happy birthday to Jefferson in front of a crowd of school kids, and they mostly just carried around pink gradeschool backpacks on the road.Why the change during 2011-12? Because Hayward and Evans kept quiet. Not Kanter. And several Jazz vets said he's now paying the price.This is Kanter's first true hazing he never received one at Kentucky because he didn't play for the Wildcats. Fellow Utah rookie Alec Burks has been Hayward- and Evans-like, mostly making it through the first 38 games of the season unscathed. But everything from Kanter's decision or, as he says, inability to dance during a preseason public scrimmage to a recent confident comment he no longer feels like a rookie have contributed to Jefferson's increased intensity.In the last 72 hours, Kanter's brought Dunkin Donuts to practice, hiked to the top of Time Warner Cable Arena, helplessly paced around boxes of delicious hot chicken, and been told to remain seated at practice before every other Jazz player hit the hardwood.C.J. Miles has spent more than six years playing for Utah. He's never seen anything close to Jefferson vs. Kanter. Only 28 more games to go for Big Turkey. The he can eat all the chicken he wants, whenever he wants.