Sunday Syncopation # 37

If you aren’t rioting over the Women’s Soccer Final outcome then come on in and read this.

Heading on over . . . part 2

So Deron Williams appears to have been close to playing with Kobe Bryant – according to a bunch of people online. All of that got dashed after his team, Besiktas, became all kinds of messed up. The Besiktas soccer team is being charged with match fixing, and people are going to jail over this. While this may or may not have any active effect on how their basketball club is run – it was too much to risk for Kobe. I don’t blame him. He has a really good thing right now playing for a team in a city that can’t even keep their freeways open. Minor digs at the city I used to live in aside, there’s little I know about Turkish prisons – and little I’d want to know.

I’m not going to make talking about "which players go where" a major feature, because I’m sure someone else on the internet is keeping a tally better than I could – but it also seems like Marcin Gortat has signed with a team in Russia to play out the lockout (Spartak, in St. Petersburg). He, like Sasha Vujacic (going to Turkey to play for Andalou Efes), are legit free agent Euros. That’s the main category that I identified last week as most ‘likely’ to go overseas to play. It only makes sense because on a cognitive perspective them coming to play in the NBA was them going ‘overseas’ in the first place.

To make this section really full circle let’s get back to talking about American superstars . . . Kobe going over would have been epic. He still may (who knows? Maybe not in Turkey, but he grew up partly in Italy and is fluent in Italian). How does this shake things up for the owners and players in the lockout? There are mixed signals as to what all of this means. Trey Kerby (@treykerby), formerly of Ball Don’t Lie (Yahoo!Sports), writes about it on The Basketball Jones (TheScore.ca). Check it out.

What do I think? Despite the protestations of some radio mouthpieces, I think that stars going overseas, or at least threatening to go over, have a bigger impact than owners would admit to. And why wouldn’t they? The NBA has spent so much time making their best players visible, and the ad agencies and shoe salesmen go out of their way to make them icons. The people who buy today’s jerseys and grew up on "I Wanna Be like Mike" / "Shaq Attaq" style marketing follow the PLAYERS more than they follow the TEAMS. Sure, small market teams may retain their great support – but the big markets will suffer. And it’s the big markets that determine what happen to the current NBA game. It’s not impossible to think of a situation where the lockout mixed with Kobe’s competitive instinct create a situation where an Italian club could make him an offer he can’t refuse. If he goes there and plays one game it changes things significantly because before we were working with the premise that the best players at their peaks wouldn’t ever leave the NBA. That wasn’t an option in the previous lockout (1998-1999), but it would be foolish and shortsighted to deny that it is real today.

 

Non-Uniform Opinions:

Players are identified by the numbers they wear on the court. Duh. The Jazz have retired a few of them:

  • #1: Frank Layden – former Jazz head coach / NBA icon and father of current Assistant Coach Scott Layden
  • #4: Adrian Dantley – a great undersized post scorer who led the franchise to their first ever playoffs
  • #7: Pistol Pete Maravich – who needs no introduction
  • #9: Larry H. Miller – the businessman who bought the full share of the team and kept it the Utah Jazz
  • #12: John Stockton – Hall of Fame point guard who used to pass and steal a bit
  • #14: Jeff Hornacek – how weird is it to be the assistant coach in a building that has your jersey hanging up in it?
  • #32: Karl Malone – Hall of Fame power forward, his DNA makes other top athletes in other sports (Cheryl Ford: WNBA ROY and Champion in the same year, All-Star game MVP; Demetrius Bell: played NCAA Division I Basketball *and* Football, currently starting with the Buffalo Bills)
  • #35: Darrell Griffith – essentially the prototype shooting guard who can hit threes and dunk
  • #53: Mark Eaton – the defensive big who is now too busy to be our bigman coach
  • Microphone Clip Art: Hot Rod Hundley – working for the Lakers now

That’s a nice list, for sure. Are there any numbers who expect to go up there in the next 10-20 years? Well, sometimes okay players on great teams get a longer look than necessary. This category includes Greg Ostertag (#00 / #39), Bryon Russell (#34 / #3), Shandon Anderson (#40), and Antoine Carr (#55). None of these guys were ever All-Stars – but had the Jazz won the title maybe Bryon Russell’s name would be up there too. The Jazz did not. And none of these players are good enough to be recognized with a retired number.

The next group for consideration includes players who are currently retired, and not part of those ’96-’99 Utah Jazz contending teams. This is a shorter list (partly because I wasn’t a Jazz fan in the 1970s), and as a result includes only Thurl Bailey (#41). He played 12 years in the NBA – and 777 games in a Jazz uniform (Regular season and Playoffs combined). He was also never an All-Star and finished his career with 12.8 ppg , 5.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, and 1.2 bpg averages. To be fair, I’d love to have Thurl Bailey on the Jazz now with those numbers. His numbers are lower than Hornacek (14.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.4 spg) and Griffith (16.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.2 spg) though. Griffith was the Rookie of the Year, and Hornacek was an All-Star. They were better players. However, I think that Bailey has been a bigger part of the community over the years. It’s up to the Jazz to decide though, and so far they’ve decided not to retire his number. I guess in the hopes that one day we can get Dirk Nowitzki or something (he also wears #41).

We had a Western Conference Finals team a while back and that team included a number of guys who aren’t on the Jazz anymore: Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. I doubt the Jazz would retire Boozer’s number – no matter how well he does over the rest of his career. Deron Williams, well, if he continues to be an All-Star and ends up winning a ring or two I’m sure the Jazz brass would consider retiring his number two decades from now. Kyle Korver is in the Thurl Bailey situation in terms of community service, but he was an ever worse player, has worse statistics, and played fewer games for the Jazz. Sorry Korvites, no jersey retirement for #26.

This leaves current Jazz players. Out of this group I can only immediately see the Jazz retiring the numbers #47 and #13 for obvious reasons. Mehmet Okur put his future on the line taking pain killers so he could play injured in the playoffs for a first round series against a team we could beat without him. That’s hardcore. That’s something that would have earned Karl Malone’s respect. He was a second round pick who worked hard to get playing time on a championship team for a gruff, old school coach (Larry Brown), then came to Utah and got into Jerry Sloan shape. Last season’s abortion of a year broke Memo’s streak of averaging at least 13 ppg, 7 rpg, and playing in at least 72 games which had been going on since the 2004-2005 season. I think we don’t know how his health is going to be (it was his back that kept him down and out last year), and his role is obviously going to be changed – but I think the former All-Star has a shot of having his Jersey hung up in the rafters. Andrei Kirilenko is Mr. Everything and was the reason people watched Jazz games in the down seasons after Stockton and Malone. He’s only ever played for the Utah Jazz and sacrificed his game to try to fit in with whatever role changes the coaching staff had planned for him. Not only that but he’s an All-Star and international icon. That second part may not mean much to the Jazz, but the first one seems to. (Again, see Thurl Bailey and his lack of a retired Jersey)

What about the younger guys? Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks are apparently all supposed to be great. Time will only tell on which ones will be. Do you think any of these guys deserve it? If so, whom? Post in the comments section . . .

 

Stats Class:

I’m working on this still, but wanted to post the rest . . . hang on.

 

Video of the Week:

I love Elie Seckbach (@Seckbach ), and you should too. You’ve probably seen a bunch of his videos already. This one is where he talks to Paul Millsap during his rookie season at the All-Star Weekend. (Millsap was part of the Rookie team) They talk about rookie duties and, most importantly, settle the Xbox / PS3 debate. Enjoy.

Thanks again to Elie Seckbach for all of his tireless work to bring a little more ‘inside’ access to fans like us.

 

Hope you didn’t miss . . . .

That Don Nelson may be the next head coach of the Minnesota Timber Wolves? How crazy is that? Sure, he’s used speedy pass first PGs before in his attacks (Ricky Rubio), and has a bunch of guys who can spread out the floor – but nothing makes me happier than seeing him go to a team that was beginning to be a threat to leap-frog ours in the division. Don Nelson has three COY trophies. He’s also a low on fundamentals coach who will derail the progress of some of their young players. Of course, all of that it just my own personal, biased point of view. Eric Freeman (@freemaneric) wrote about it for Ball Don’t Lie (Yahoo!Sports) here. Please check it out.

Jason Flemming (@jfleminghoops ) writes on Hoops World about the owners of the different Northwest Division teams. He writes about each owner, and goes into details about the potential group they work for, and how much the team is worth now, and so forth. Very interesting to me was seeing what level of education these guys got. I was surprised by some of them . . . but I guess it tracts well with what I’ve learned about business from a young age: the only thing you need is experience, not an education. (Actually looking at the education of other team owners, some who have Ph.Ds and JDs it seems that the Northwest team owners are just plain uneducated) The education issue isn’t the biggest issue he brings up, so please take a look.

Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA ) also writes on Hoops World about a number of players who are using the NBA lockout to go back to college. I’m not going to spoil it for you except to say don’t worry, Fes isn’t going to school. (Which sounds like the premise of an Adam Sandler movie) It’s an interesting use of their time, for sure. Worth it. Unless, of course, they want to own an NBA team down the line. (see previous paragraph)

Rasual Butler (@RasualButler45) posted a link on twitter to a blog that posted some fan-made re-designs of team logos. I don’t know who to credit for it, but they are pretty cool. The teams re-designed are the LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Hornets, and Washington Wizards. I like the Wizards and Clippers logos the best out of this bunch. For a very long time I’ve yelled and shook my hand at the heavens for the crappy Clippers logo not having anything to do with the boat it is named after. Similarly the Wizards logos have always been so weak, especially when there’s an entire genre of artwork that seems to be devoted to drawing Wizards. Tell me what you think.

DimeMag (@DimeMag) had a Point/Counterpoint thing a few days back trying to figure out who was better: Karl Malone or Charles Barkley. It’s a silly argument to me, as one is clearly superior (I do make a dent in the comments section). If you want to read what OTHER people think, head on over.

 

Did you know . . . ?:

. . . that the three jersey numbers with the highest frequency of use are #33 (13 guys), #25 (13 guys), and #22 (14 guys). This group of guys includes such great players as Bernard King, Gail Goodrich, and current Jazz starter Al Jefferson. There have been a lot of bad players too, but I’m not going to list the other 30 plus dudes to shame them. I will put out a the list of numbers that have NEVER been used by the Jazz instead: #27, 28, 29, 36, 37, 38, 46, 48, 49, and anything above 55.

Numbers are fun, obviously I’m biased, but if you get too deep into it you get into some serious trouble with stock market types and spooky Kabbalah people. This is a movie reference, not a serious statement.

Boom. Syncopated.

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