As the season came to a thrilling conclusion on Weds night against the rival Denver Nuggets, I found myself reflecting on the season. Perhaps it was the clutch steal by Devin Harris in the closing minute of the game which was the catalyst, perhaps is the standing fans in the ESA loudly cheering and chanting, or maybe it’s because I’m a philosophy major and over think things too much; regardless, I couldn’t help but smile to myself.
This season has been one of the most chaotic I’ve ever experienced from one of my favorite sports teams, and yet, it’s one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve been able to be a part of. We saw new faces enter the season and there was much hope and promise that we could make a run to the WCF’s again. The fabled Knick’s pick resulted in a lanky white boy who with a goofy grin found himself met with a chorus of boos. There was much discussion over this young man, was he quick enough to play the 2 (I was right suckers! You all thought I was crazy when I said he should play the 2! Ahem, sorry couldn’t help but gloat a little), would his outside shot come back, should we have gone big? He started slow and left many of us calling for KOC’s head, but at the end of the season, are there any of us who are doubting how special this kid can be? How he didn’t balk in the face of the Black Mamba’s gait but instead shouldered his courage and matched the vile snake’s production, indeed, even exceeding it. His goofy grin reeks of confidence now and it seems we have a future SG whom the Trailblazers can’t steal from us.
The season opened with some incredible runs, the miracle in Miami, the clutch last shot by D-will against the Bobcats, and an impressive winning record. We would then be met with opposition, losing to the bottom dwellers of the NBA, never gaining a strong footing on our home court, and then losing to the Eastern Jazz team the dreaded Bulls. It was here we found ourselves on the crux of disaster. Sloan was winded, tired, and wounded. The fire in his belly had begin to dwindle and he found himself questioning his resolve. He figured it was better to leave on his own terms, in his own way, than be beaten; and like the of ending of any good Western, he and his best mate Johnson saddled their horses and road off into the sunset.
The Jazz franchise is superior to many within the league and once again showed that it could weather any storm with an even temperament and careful consideration. Instead of panic and an urge to swim against the changing tide, they sailed with it. They promoted Corbin from within the ranks, promoted Scott Layden, the son of a removed Jazz coach and they hired a new assistant coach and familiar face in Horny. Where many teams would have stretched their feelers out across the NBA trying to find replacements, the Jazz franchise, like any family owned business in America, promoted friends and family. That is what makes us so special. The Jazz organization is a family. It relies on individuals who have always been around, who understand what the franchise means to Utah, and lives up to the expectations of a winning tradition. It embraces the spirit of its fans and the state it resides in.
It was here that we found ourselves in unfamiliar waters but with familiar faces. We continued to struggle and stumbled into the All-star break. It was here that the world was once shocked again by an organization which always keeps their cards close to their vest and has continued to be a face of stability. D-will is traded to the Nets. A fan favorite, the best pg in the league, the man who returned credibility to the Jazz after Stock and Malone had left. We were in shock, and yet, we were also slightly prepared for it. Deep down many of us were worried about his commitment to the franchise. We wanted to believe he’d never leave, but we all had that feeling of doubt in the back of our minds. The organization acted and saw Derrick Favors, 2 first round lotto picks, and an able PG in Devin Harris as a great way to strengthen the franchise. So they pulled the trigger.
Over the following weeks we fell in love with Derrick Favors; his defense instincts, his athletic ability, the raw talent that radiated from his young prowess. He is the future, tagged with that goofy white kid from Indiana, and a surprise pogo stick from the second round. We struggled with these young heroes as they battled against veterans around the league. We watched them play well, play awful, win, and lose. There was promise though and we found new hope in our despair.
It was here that I finally realized I had truly enjoyed this season. As I watched Harris steal the ball in the closing seconds, saw Jefferson throw up a weezy which grabbed the lead, then watched Hayward seal the win with is 33 and 34 points of the night. It had been a crazy season. One that would leave many fans scratching their heads and cursing whatever sports god they worship. How could our legendary coach leave, our other worldly PG be traded, and a losing season like we’ve only experienced twice in 20 years mean that there was hope for the franchise.
Perhaps what aided this season the most was the experiences I found myself having on SLCdunk amongst friends. The discussions about Hayward’s athletic ability during the offseason, the arguments about AK’s importance to the Jazz, the love/hate relationship with Bell, the heartbreak over losing Oh my sweet Wesley, and the admiration of coach Sloan. It was in waking up every weekday and getting through class by spending all my time on the blog. It was in the constant twitter talks. It was in the evaluation of player stats. It was in the gentle ribbing of Clark and Clint fighting. It was in the inspiring posts of Yuccaman. It was in the dedication to the blog that BBJ has demonstrated. The crazy posts from Buc. The mathematic equations of AllthatJazz. The correlation of tie color to wins carefully followed by Moni. The dialogue we all provided.
It has made me realize that whether we win or lose, whether we agree or disagree, it is the passion of the fans which makes this team special. On a worldwide scale we can gather and with a wealth of knowledge argue any angle about any subject dealing with the Jazz. So for that I would like to say thank you to everyone on this blog. In the midst of a season of chaos, change, heartbreak, glory, and despair we made this season fun. We made it interesting.
2010-2011 Jazz season has come to a close in a way none of us wanted or expected but at least we went through it together. That is what will always make it memorable. That is why I smiled as we walked away with a victory to close the season. A lockout looms and there is no telling when we will once again be able to watch the Jazz play. I hope we continue to discuss and support the Jazz together on SLCdunk. Let old friends remain and new ones join the fray over the following offseason. Thanks again to all. It’s been a ride!