There are many reasons we love the Jazz. The Jazz are known in the sporting world for consistency, they are known for being a stand up organization who knows how to do things the "right way". The Jazz did things the same way for over twenty years, it brought success, it brought finals appearances and it brought us player stability.
Player stability is important for a small market franchise like the Jazz. We don't know why but the mega super-stars aren't drawn to Utah, they aren't drawn into playing for the Jazz. Deron Williams said he tried to recruit players while he was on the Jazz and got laughed at by players.
There is a stigma attached to Utah, to the Jazz for being in Utah which doesn't make sense to me. It seems OK to pick on Utah in ways that the media is not allowed to say about other teams. They can crack jokes about the whiteness of our team (which is false) they can crack jokes about the religion of the Jazz's fans with no repercussions. Imagine if a media member said this to Lakers fans.
"Let’s be honest. They’re Mormon. And they’re in Salt Lake. And there’s nothing else there. You’ve got to smile and be happy all the time. This might be one opportunity for fans to get vicious."
Ric Bucher "apologized" but it wasn't an apology. No one in the national media batted an eye at such a statement. It was just about Jazz fans, who cares.
The Jazz are working at an unfair advantage compared to most teams in the league. The Jazz have had to find a model and stick to it because of the disadvantage apparent by playing in Utah.
Having said all this it sometimes seems that the Jazz make things harder on themselves (in the last year and a half) than they really need to do.
There have been a few bad habits that have started to creep into the organization that as a fan, it kind of bugs me. Throughout the Larry Miller and Jerry Sloan era, the Jazz were a near fantasy to me. They weren't a business they were this magical entity who provided me with hours of entertainment and joy.
The Jazz in the last few years have seen less like a "magical entity" and more of a real world, real life business. In the past few years we have seen great change over with our roster. We have lost our core of Deron, Boozer, Memo and AK. We only have one player left from that era, Paul Millsap. That is a lot of change. I understand it is a new NBA. I know we won't see players stay with the same team throughout the entirety of their careers anymore.
Basically the only thing that has bothered me about all the turnover with our roster, is the bad mouthing of players once they are gone. When Boozer was on our team, a local radio station laughed at fans who said that Millsap could replace Boozer's productivity on the court and be a better teammate/community member off the court. Fans were laughed at and ridiculed for expressing such an opinion. The minute Boozer signed with the Bulls, the same radio station said what an awful guy Boozer was and how we were lucky to be rid of him.
The president of the Utah Jazz recently said comments about Andre Kirilenko that were false (you can read about them on Moni's blog) he spoke of AK in a negative manner. As an AK fan this hurt. It hurt that the Jazz sold me AK for 10 years and when he leaves they make fun of him. I don't think it would be that hard to have said. "You know we really appreciate having had AK on our team for ten years. AK was a special player for us, we appreciate everything he did for this franchise. You know why AK was special, he was the link between the Stockton and Malone years and the Williams/Boozer era. We wish Andrei the best of luck in Minnesota" I don't think that would have been hard to say. Instead he made up stats of how many games AK missed etc.
I believe players hear what is being said about them from past teams. I would like the Jazz to be seen as the classy organization I know them to be. (Remember Ronnie Brewer's message to KOC, HMD, that shows players have feelings and they hear what is said about them)
I think being in a small market the Jazz need to treat their players well. I know that Larry was wonderful at building personal relationships with his players. Mo Williams recently said that Jerry Sloan was everyone's biggest cheerleader. I know the NBA player is different than the players in the 90s. I recognize and have heard from Greg himself, that he has tried very very hard to build personal relationships with the players, its just a lot harder to do it in today's NBA.
The Jazz do have control of how welcome the players feel on the team, they have control of making the players feel so loved and wanted that they look to re-sign with the Jazz.
Today on 1280, Gordon Hayward gave his weekly player interview on the station. Hayward shared how after Enes's tweets this summer, the Jazz had a meeting about how to behave on social media.
Personally I didn't have a problem with Enes's tweets. I loved them, I loved getting to know his personality. I felt like he was coming out of his shell. I felt like he was endearing himself to Jazz fans #baby.
Players should have the freedom to tweet and instagram what they want. They should feel like they can reach out to fans in whatever way they want. Enes didn't commit any criminal activity this summer, so let the kid be himself without the censors.
The Jazz had very little appeal to free agents, players came here to play with hall of fame players and to play for a hall of fame coach. The Jazz do not have that anymore. The Jazz do have an amazing young core, the history of winning and the history of loyalty.
I hope the players we have continue to feel that loyalty and the winning ways continue to keep them here and attract even more talent.