Monday, March 21, 2011

What A Short Strange Trip It's Been

This is not an edited post. It's not even thought out, at all. I will be vomiting thoughts, thoughts that I may deny before posting, thoughts that I may only half believe. But I've digested for long enough that I thought it might be nice– even just for my own mental health– to purge.

A lot has changed in the relatively short time since my last post about The Utah Jazz.

Back then, we had Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan and All-Star Deron Williams. Now we have Ty Corbin, Devin Harris, rookie Derrick Favors, and some off-year first round draft picks. Even after that notorious Bulls game, I was sticking with D-Will. I was loyal. Hearing later, from a very inside source (like, IN the locker room inside source), that Sloan leaving was "100% Williams" couldn't completely sour me on the guy. Even now, watching him dig in with the Nets (and improve his hair situation!) makes me pretty sad. But I guess he had to go. He wasn't staying.

Now what?

Injuries. Mehmet Okur played, what, a fittingly lucky 13 games for the Jazz this year and was finally relegated to Out For The Season status last week. Memo is no MVP, but he changes the lane and the opposing defense quite a bit. And this might seem way out in left field for those of you who think he's a slow white bomber, but I think he's an underrated, gutsy defender. There, I said it. He's no Bill Russell, but he's no matador either (ahem, Boozer...Amare...). And Memo is just one of many recurring, cursed injuries. Every team has them, but this year has seemed especially injurious to me.

Corbin. Give the guy some time. I don't love what's happening, but I don't know that it's his fault. I know there were some players who said that Corbin had plays that Sloan wasn't incorporating into the game plan, but it's hard for me to think that Sloan wouldn't have won more games with this lineup. That's the curse of following up a hard-working, blue collar, tenacious legend, Ty. Get used to it. Jazz fans will give you time and support, but the Statues are always there.

Sloan. There is absolutely nothing I can say about Jerry Sloan here. He coached the team for most of my life, ever since I cared about basketball. When kids were calling for his head and wanting "new basketball" to start in Utah, I defended him and called them idiots (still do). The guy deserved better. He is one of four people in the history of the Jazz that stand above the rest– two of the others are legendary players and the fourth is an owner who kept the Jazz in Utah. I'm rambling a lot for a guy who has nothing to say, but still, there's nothing I can say about Sloan that his history of old school grit and toughness and heart don't already show you.

The New Jazz. This is a new era, no doubt about it. We are rebuilding. The Nuggets left their trade with new life and playoff hopes. We left ours with a ton of question marks. But, while the trade made me mad (i have since come to peace with it) and I'll never really think that Sloan left like he should've and the initial games were hard to watch just from an emotional standpoint, I am still a Jazz fan. I love watching this team, even with the hard losses. I enjoy this team much like the early AK-47 years– getting to see rooks like Hayward, Favors, and even Jeremy Evans start to get the pro game, getting to see a PG like Harris start to find footing with this team and this crowd, still loving the heart that guys like Milsap show, the mutant martian that AK is, and the beast (and leader) that Al Jefferson has become. These storylines, yes, have to temporarily take the place of winning. Winning just isn't happening right now. But what is sportsfandom if you're only EVER winning? Then you're a Lakers fan. And we all know how douchey and bandwagony that is. Though, you do save a lot of time only having to watch 2 quarters of basketball per game.

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