Falling is Like This

When I was either 15 or 16, I worked at one of those mini-McDonalds inside a Walmart with two of my best friends, Jason and Nick. One night after we closed, the three of us stayed late with free access to Mountain Dew (something we considered to be a remarkable job benefit), and had a detailed discussion about the women in our lives. One of us (I don’t remember who) was telling us about a recent date, and wound up admitting that he thought this girl liked him.

This was not breaking news.  The fact that this girl liked our friend was so unbelievably obvious, that he was literally the only person in our social universe who didn’t know. Granted, it wasn’t exactly a big universe, but still, he was the only one who hadn’t got it yet.

One of us (and again, I don’t remember who), responded with a toothy grin and  said “Gee, ya think?” This prompted a memorable round of laughter and cheers, partly fueled by excessive caffeine, but mostly fueled by the sweet relief that comes when you finally acknowledge something that has been staring you in the face for WAY too long.

In that spirit, and with every ounce of positivity I can muster, allow me to proclaim that the season is over for the Utah Jazz.

One has to give due credit to the guys coming to work every day and trying to improve. If you look back over the Jazz season, a lot of NBA players would have given up by now. The Jazz have consistently faced challenges since Dec 3rd (a losing effort against the Mavs that sparked a 7-6 run through December). Heading into that game, the Jazz were 15-5 and gaining steam heading into the main stretch of the season.

Since, they’ve been on a free fall, losing 32 games, including 13 at home. They’ve lost their team identity, their defensive focus (the Jazz gave up 95.7 PPG in November and 103.6 since November, including a shocking 110.1 PPG in March), and, of course, their Head Coach, Assistant Coach and franchise Point Guard.

It’s been a long, slow, painful run ever since.

The Jazz have 9 games left in their season, 7 of which are against probable playoff teams (Mavs, Lakers x2, Blazers, Spurs, Hornets, Nuggets). The other two are the Wizards – who the Jazz did lose to in January – and the Kings.

That’s not to say that all hope is lost. There are glimmers of hope for the team’s future. Derrick Favors has shown signs of life in games against the Knicks and the Timberwolves, Jeremy Evans and Gordon Hayward have had solid performances on occasion, and Al Jefferson and C.J. Miles have emerged as guys on the rise.

Still, and I don’t know exactly how to explain this, the Jazz just look outmatched nearly every time they take the floor. Even in November, when the Jazz would take on elite team, I felt like the they had a fighting chance if they could get their opponent to change their game plan (i.e. the Miami Heat game on Nov. 9th)

When I watch now, I realize I’ve become my mother whenever Belatrix LaStrange does something mean to one of the kids on Harry Potter. I find myself covering my eyes and shouting:

“OHH The Horror! The Wicked, Wicked Horror!”

I’ve come to grips with the fact that being a Jazz fan is, once again, a long term prospect. It’s time to start scouting the college world for meaningful prospects and hoping for luck at the lottery. It’s time to contemplate how to draw talent to the small market world of the Utah Jazz and how to keep them.

The fate of the Jazz fan lays in the hands of the Jazz scouts and members of the draft team, and the truth is, it’s probably going to be a while before the Jazz are serious contenders again.

In 1997, the San Antonio Spurs figured out how to survive the inevitable departure of their then franchise player by drafting Tim Duncan. Surely, it can’t be *that* hard to find another guy like that, right?

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~ by djepperson on March 25, 2011.

2 Responses to “Falling is Like This”

  1. I want to hear more stories from the sodie fountain in the Walmart. Good article!

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