22 February 2011
Deron Williams Signing Autographs at the 2001 ASG. NBAE
The Utah Jazz season has been a long, grueling one thus far. Drama aplenty, it seems that Utah cannot escape what is turning out to be a season spiraling out of control. Between losing streaks, home dominance gone astray and coaching changes of epic proportions, what this Jazz squad needs is some peace and quiet from all of the uproar.
Enter All Star Weekend. A perfect time to recuperate, relax and de-stress from what is ailing this squad. The hope was this weekend would provide the break from day to day issues hanging over their collective head. It didn’t.
Late last night, CBSSports.com sent a tweet that added more fuel to the Utah fire, specifically citing “sources” with knowledge of Deron Williams’ intentions of leaving Utah for the Mecca of basketball, New York, in 2012. Although it is tough to explain context and overall meaning in 140 characters via Twitter, the message struck a chord with Jazz fans. Their superstar is unhappy in Utah.
At least, that’s what we were led to believe. Upon reading further into the fresh broken news, we find out this was second-hand information from months ago, selectively broken during this weekend’s festivities in Los Angeles. Is Carmelo Anthony’s travelling circus of trade talk just finding new hosts to leach onto? Possibly. What we do know is that whether this rumor carries any real weight or not, Jazz fans have felt the early sting of another superstar possibly spurning them for a much bigger stage (Carlos Boozer, anyone?).
We are no strangers to feeling inadequate with ourselves. Utah isn’t necessarily a top destination in our country, unless you are a skier or one of the early Mormon pioneers. Not to say there is something wrong with Utah. Many stereotypes exist that simply don’t live up to the hype. But we, as Utahns and Jazz fans, understand that.
But it plays into our psyche. We have an inferiority complex. It’s common knowledge we aren’t the hottest market. We, like many other small market cities in the NBA landscape, understand that there are bigger and better destinations. Doesn’t change our affinity for our beloved franchise. Nor should it.
Let me share with you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a talented cheerleader. She was attractive, smart and envied. She carried a bit of an attitude, knowing her status. But she was extremely good at what she did, arguably the best. This cheerleader could have whoever and whatever she wanted. But she’s been loyal to her boyfriend of nearly six years.
Now this boyfriend, he’s a little self conscious. He’s a stand up guy. Extremely loyal and passionate, he realizes how fortunate he is to have his sweetheart in his life. Sadly, he also realizes he doesn’t have all of the “assets” of his competition. Jocks and rich kids alike, his status is somewhat below theirs. It’s common knowledge. And he understands the scene. But for some unknown reason, his cheerleader girlfriend chose him, and continues to stay.
As of late, boyfriend and cheerleader have hit a rough patch. It’s not the first time. About a year ago, our cheerleader mentioned she was unhappy in her current state, vaguely threatening to leave soon if things didn’t change. Naturally, boyfriend is overwhelmed with the news and feels sorry for himself. But he perseveres with his continued support for her.
Now, cheerleader has been accused recently of causing a rift between her boyfriend and his long time friend. Long time friend no longer wants to be a part of the equation and left town a little less than two weeks ago. Boyfriend is struggling to accept the circumstances, even if she REALLY had nothing to do with the rift. After all, it was just a rumor. And long time friend isn’t speaking about it.
Boyfriend still isn’t sold his girlfriend is guiltless, but he’s putting it behind him. Besides, his girlfriend is going on vacation this weekend, and a little time apart may be just what this relationship needs. Then comes the rumored news:
Cheerleader girlfriend intends to leave insignificant, everyday boyfriend for a new man: The star athlete. Boyfriend realizes he’s no match for this guy. Dude’s got everything that boyfriend doesn’t. He’s ripped, got fame and fortune, all to go along with a bright future. Girlfriend says it’s all rumor, as do all of her friends, but boyfriend isn’t sold on that.
And that’s where it stands. Rumors are splitting this relationship apart and creating divisions. Cheerleaders friends think that the boyfriend is crazy. But the boyfriend has seen this all too often. He’s a holdover until something bigger and better approaches. He’s not the long-term option. Just a pit stop until the next best thing comes calling.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this analogy is a snapshot of Jazz fans’ relationship with Deron Williams over the past few months. While we want so badly to back him and show him our full support, we can’t help but think his intentions are to leave. I mean, after all, we’re lowly Utah. No one could possibly love us, right?
And so it stands. We support our star, but when issue after issue leaves him with blood on his hands (again, whether true or not isn’t the issue – he’s the center piece in all of this), it gets tough to continue trusting what is said in the media. Beginning with the Ronnie Brewer trade last year (and subsequent “That’s why I signed a 3 year deal” comment from Deron), Jazz fans have been left wondering if their star truly is happy here. And one thing has led to another since then. It’s unfortunate, but understandable.
We are, after all, just the regular, old, run of the mill boyfriend. Why would anyone of Deron’s status want to stay here? We’re seeing the same thing across the Rocky Mountains in Devner with Carmelo Anthony. And quite possibly, watching that catastrophe unfold over the past 9 months has been what’s scared Jazz fans. Again, inferiority complex takes over our thoughts.
This wasn’t written to defend or accuse Deron Williams of any wrong doing. The intentions are to explain our thinking to those wondering how Jazz fans could believe the unceasing, swirling rumors surrounding Deron, Coach Sloan and now New York. We WANT to believe Deron is happy here. We WANT to think he had nothing to do with Jerry Sloan’s departure, along with the preceding and ensuing aftermath. We WANT to believe Deron hasn’t so much as even thought about New York. But, again, we realize who we are. We take pride in our passion as Jazz fans, but realize Salt Lake City isn’t New York. It never will be. The attraction of New York – it’s lights, glamour and allure, not to mention being basketball’s biggest stage – isn’t something Jazz fans can ignore. It’s the star athlete courting our sought after girlfriend. And let’s be real: We don’t stand a chance.
That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy or support Deron Williams while he is still in Utah. In fact, failure to do so will only seal his fate as the latest Jazzman to bail on Utah for greener pastures. Is that really what we want to do?
As a Jazz fan, my hope is that fellow fans will continue in their support of Deron Williams. We watched an ugly, drawn out soap opera called the Carlos Boozer Show over the past few years. We remember the bad taste that situation left in our mouths. Carlos alienated himself with unabashed comments that sealed his character to Jazz fans as someone discontented with being part of this team. Deron has certainly said all the right things, yet it feels most Jazz fans reluctance to believe him hinges on being burned by Carlos. Boozer showed us that Utah certainly isn’t the stage you take to achieve greatness in this league.
Whether or not Deron leaves in 2012 (or sooner), Jazz fans will still be Jazz fans. And one element of being part of that group lies in our inherent inferior view of ourselves. Hopefully, if you are one who can’t understand Jazz fans’ reasoning upon hearing these rumors, along with their hyper-sensitivity in response to them, you understand now. We are used to being a bridesmaid, never the bride.
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