So, I went to the Jazz vs. Mavericks game the other night. Good for you, you say? Well, yes, it was good for me. I had a lot of fun. In fact, it was the best I have felt after a Jazz loss since I was too young to know better.
The whole Jazz experience was had, namely Crown Burger, the Fanzz walk-by, a quick restroom visit, and a nice walk around the ESA improvements. However, one thing was different about this game than the games I usually attend. At this game, I had the pleasure of viewing the action from row 3.
This is the closest I have ever been to the court in the Energy Solutions Arena. Thanks to a desperate scalper, I was able to another one of those surreal Jazz experiences that are so few and far between.
I know that all you rich snobs and popular people will scoff at my being still two rows from the actual court, but for a fairly conservative and monetarily conscious person, I would say that this is as good as any other closer seat would have been.
A couple observations that I was able to make:
- Ummm, NBA basketball players are HUGE! We all know most players’ height and weight, but when you are that close, they are almost mutant-like.
- There is a lot of pulling of jerseys and grabbing and holding that NEVER gets seen/called by the refs.
- The Jazz are still playing hard. I don’t care what anyone else says, these players still want to win.
- Just like on TV, Raja Bell can’t get his jump shot to fall live either. I did watch him talk to a young boy wearing his jersey during the halftime shoot-around. Something so small to Raja no doubt created a memory that that boy will try to describe to his friends for decades.
Two last things that I decided last night: I LOVE to heckle and Brian Cardinal is now one of my favorite non-Jazz players.
Let me explain:The game was well out of reach for the Jazz in the fourth quarter when Coach Jim Carrey for the Mavericks decided to empty his bench. That’s when Brian Cardinal came in. I was disgusted enough with another fourth quarter Jazz meltdown, and I saw the 3rd row awesomeness coming to an end, so I decided to take my heckling up a notch.
So, when Cardinal came down to my side of the court, I started yelling “Hey, Scalabrine!” as loud as I possibly could. I don’t know what I was trying to accomplish with this outburst, but I knew that for some reason, it felt right to do at the time. As soon as I yelled out, I watched him unsuccessfully hold back a smile. A foul was called soon afterwards and as he lined up for the free throws he pointed at me in the crowd and gave me a fist-in-the-air that showed he approved of my efforts.
Video of the Recognition by Cardinal
Now, I know there are some who aren’t impressed with my heckling or just plain don’t get it. But respectfully, I didn’t heckle for you, I heckled for me and my sulking Jazz-fandom; I heckled for Brian and his strictly role-playing NBA career. But most of all, I heckled for the upper bowl and for the parents and kids that, like me, only get that quick glimpse of lower-bowl normalcy in their lifetimes.
For, I am a fan. I am the Utah Jazz.
Special to The Utah Jazz Blog, friend of Utah Jazz president Randy Rigby, and Jazz fanatic, Alan "Jedi" Zaugg shares his thoughts with us on the path of the Utah franchise. You can find Jedi frequently talking Utah Jazz on the afternoon show KFAN Live Blog as well as follow him on Twitter at @JediZaugg, something I recommend for fans that like a well-thought-out, common sense approach to Jazz fandom. Enjoy!
As I sat and watched the Utah Jazz at OKC Thunder Wednesday night, I couldn't help but take a moment to reflect on the season and take a peek into the future, take a look at what the future can hold. Jazz fans you gotta work with me here and be patient.
Lets begin with this season.
This has quite possibly been the worst season I’ve witnessed in my recent memory (yes worse than the lottery bound ‘04-’05 season). Mostly because of the expectations coming into the season. This team went from a 27-13 start to a 36-36 in a matter of two months. Nine wins in the last 33 games. UGH! And right about now we’ve all probably repeated over and over again the phrase, “Can this get any worse”. Right?
And as we have come to realize, yes it can. And it has.
Enough about this ugly season. As I sat watching another loss to the Thunder, I heard something uttered by our friends Bolerjack and Harpring on FSN. They spoke of Oklahoma City and how they are the “3rd youngest team in the NBA”. And where is this 3rd youngest team ranked right now? Division leaders by a lot of games and 4th in the Western Conference. And exciting to watch!
How? Through the draft.
Image: Playing the ESPN Draft Lottery generator
Yeah, some trades and free agent signings along the way happened as well. But the core: Westbrook, Durant, James Harden, and even Jeff Green (now traded back to the Celtics, from who the Thunder originally acquired his rights) all top five picks. That’s right lottery picks. And not all acquired in the same draft either. OKC had to have some patience, some down years, in order to get where they are now.
How does this relate to the Jazz?
We're used to two words here in Utah: Consistency and Stability. And in two short months both of those have gone out the window.
It’s time to start over, to begin again. This team hasn’t had to rebuild in 26 years. And no, I’m sorry getting Deron Williams in the draft was not completely a rebuild mode. This will take time, patience, and...fan support, to see this through. The Jazz are in full rebuild mode.
The Jazz have some very important pieces already in place: a young and extremely talented PF Favors, a young but extremely smart Hayward, and Al Jefferson your center piece. And let’s not forget a still young, talented CJ Miles. They’ve got a great core of guys, now they just need to add some more young pieces. And before you know it the Jazz will be the next OKC Thunder team.
The future is BRIGHT Jazz fans. Don’t give up hope. As a very good friend of mine, Randy Rigby, said to me the other day:
“Go Jazz. We are going to keep fighting.”
As long as they keep that fighting edge about them, there’s always something to be excited about. And I will keep cheering them on.
Are you with me?
Just Miss the Second Free Throw.
SLCDUNK GAME THREAD-
We are below .500 Jazz Fanatical
Millsap maybe one of the Shots of the Year (Video) - Yahoo
Mehmet Okur regrets coming back to Basketball to soon- Jody Genessy
David West could be done for the season- SB Nation
Post Game Quotes - SLC TRIB
Purple and Blues Thoughts-
BeeBallblog.com a Hornets Blog
Karl Malone Tribute Mix from AllthatAmar and Slcdunk
The box score may credit Raja Bell with three assists, but in actuality he had four.
With exactly 2:00 left in a revenge game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin called for Raja Bell to come out of the game.
In a veteran move, Bell instead indicated to teammate CJ Miles that he should head to the bench first, knowing that after a smoking hot new career high 40-point performance the crowd would want to give the soon-to-be birthday boy his due.
And boy did they!
After dropping an NBA-best-on-the-season for 35 points or more, 2.22 points-per-shot taken, Miles received a loud and long standing ovation from an appreciative Energy Solutions Arena crowd.
This starting role for Miles is one we at The Utah Jazz Blog have touted all season long as the right one for the Jazz. There's no doubt that CJ is highly gifted offensively, but used off the bench as a primary offensive weapon opposing teams can key in on him, causing him to force up poor shots in an attempt to keep Utah's anemic offensive bench in the game.
However, in the starting role Miles can flourish. Not only is he bigger than many of the opposing shooting guards he plays against, allowing him to use his length as the team's best statistical guard defender, but he also is allowed to play within the natural offensive flow and scheme of the team, with defenses kept honest and busy having to try and contain the beast that is Al Jefferson.
It's hard to not feel vindicated after that unreal performance from Miles, as this is the role we've felt all along that he should be in. There's a multitude of reasons he should have been there in the first place, and just about all of them have been chronicled here at TUJB between numerous posts and replies to readers' comments. Feel free to roll back through the posts; there's at least a half dozen on the topic, and several others with references to what was such an obvious sore thumb to what might have been had it been addressed sooner.
I kept waiting for the tweets from CJ, the celebration, but soon realized that they weren't coming, that he most likely wouldn't be satisfied with a single such amazing game. That in Miles' mind there was still too much work to be done.
And a single mention of the moment finally emerged late this morning.
And that was all. Right back at it.
All season long I've bantered and debated back and forth with Miles' many detractors, asserting and insisting that he hadn't come close to peaking yet, only to be beaten and battered by those who were sure that after only 23 years of age, 300-some games, and less than 6,000 NBA minutes he was done.
Two months ago I noted just how bad the Jazz were in efficiency differential at the SG spot, at the time minus 12.
All season long it's been the most glaring sore spot in the Jazz's starting lineup, an area I've tracked and checked after every couple of games. Just two days ago I gave the most recent of several updates on this specific position. It hadn't improved, still sitting at a minus 5.5 on the season
In a mere two starts at the shooting guard spot, CJ Miles has brought the Jazz's biggest hole in the starting lineup to a plus 21.5. Even with the third game back factored in, one in which Miles didn't start and Utah was blown out in, the Jazz are now third in the NBA over the last three games at the shooting guard position, bested only by the red hot Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade.
Miles became the second-youngest Jazz player in the last 25 years to score 40 points in a game, and joined an illustrious list of franchise legends, as noted by 1320 KFAN's David Locke.
Locke has recently echoed our long-held assertions that CJ should have been starting all along over Bell.
"It is going to be a shame if it is clear at the end of the year that CJ should have been starting all year. The numbers have been screaming at us that this is true. The starting line-up with Raja was one of the three worst starting line-ups in the entire NBA and the line-up with CJ was one of the three best in the NBA."
What have we been telling you?
That you start your five best players.
"Furthermore, the idea that you need to keep a scorer on your bench at the expense of the starting line-up defies all statistical models."
As myself and Jake Jeppson have been telling anyone who would listen on Twitter, would you rather play from behind every single game, or jump out ahead and try and hold that lead?
In the last two games, with Miles starting at the 2-spot, the Jazz have jumped out to huge leads, a rarity this season for them, and held on for their first back-to-back wins in two months' time.
The results clearly speak for themselves. Let's hope it's not too late to salvage this season, that it's not too late to rectify the season-long mistake.
We know for sure that the three young 'uns in the following tweet haven't given up yet.
In any case, take heart, Jazz Fan, for the future of the franchise is yet bright.