Desperation in Utah

Published: February 29, 2008

I've avoided the whole Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul argument pretty consistently since I started writing about the Hornets.  It's not that I don't have an opinion – of course I do – it's just that I think the people who have opinions I give a damn about(stat geeks, NBA Analysts who clearly watch teams other than the Lakers or their own hometown team) have all pretty much come down on my side.  Those who only watch national TV games come down on the side of Deron – CP getting to be in a nationally televised game all of 6 times during his career(including events during All-Star weekend).  Tonight, Paul and Williams play against each other again, so what the hell, I'm going to enter the conversation.  However, I'm not going to reiterate the stats, or awards, or bother to refute the other side's arguments.  Instead I'm going to come at it from another angle.

Maybe I just notice it more, but other than lame-ass Lakers fans who can't imagine someone might think Kobe is a punk who's not the best player on earth, there doesn't seem to be a more foaming-at-the-mouth-with-rage set of fans out there than Jazz fans defending their boy Deron. One of the blogs that I visit fairly frequently is My Utah Jazz.  The writers there produce a humorous mix of observations, smack-talk, and devastation in reaction to every game, article, slight, and praise of their team.  During All-Star weekend, after the skills challenge, they put up a post that pretty much summarized most of the Utah Jazz Fan posts about Deron vs. CP3, hiting just the right tone of outraged incredulity and scathing attacks on Paul exhibited by all homer Jazz fans defending their guy.

After reading it, it started me thinking.  Why are Jazz fans so riled up about – and even insulted – by the debate?  Why the stink of desperation? I decided to look into what it must mean to be a Jazz fan – from an outsiders point of view, and I think I've found out why they are they way they are.

You can sum up The Jazz's entire existance with one phrase:  They just missed.  They picked Darrell Griffith right before Kevin McHale.  They drafted Dominique Wilkins and had to trade him for a bunch of crap, partly because he didn't want to play in Utah.  They grabbed Thurl Bailey right before Ron Harper, Jeff Malone, and Clyde Drexler.  They picked up players like Blue Edwards and Eric Leckner over Cliff Robinson, Vlade Divac, and Rod Strickland.  They just missed, missed, and missed.

In the mid-nineties, they put together a good team around Stockton and Malone, met the MJ buzzsaw, and just missed.  For the rest of the decade, they were slowly supplanted as their stars got old, just missing out in the playoffs during the lockout year and the year following.  They continued to miss every year until Stockton retired and Malone left.

Finally, with the departure of their ringless Hall of Famers, they had a chance to restart.  They made a big move to get Boozer and Okur, snagged Harpring, and brought Kirilenko over from Russia.  The stage was set, and they had the core of a great team, they just needed a point guard that could make the team run.  They traded up in the draft, spending assets to get to the front of the line so they could pick third and snag one of the three big PG prospects in the draft.

All were available when they picked.  The future Rookie of the Year, All-Star, and MVP candidate was waiting. 

And the Utah Jazz just missed.

Enjoy the game tonight, all, I'm sure it will be a tough one like usual.  Hopefully our team will show up for the game, just like I'm sure more than one Jazz fan will show up here and mock me. 🙂

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