(as promised during this weeks podcast with Spencer and Jimmy)
Karl Malone famously played basketball with a chip on his shoulder. He was at his best when he felt he had something to prove. We all remember how Karl would play every time the Jazz played Dallas, (the team Karl believed would pick him, only to be passed over for Detlef Schrempf). We’ve heard the tales of his fellow teammates making up stories that his opponents had been talking smack about him, only to successfully fire him up. One of the most concrete examples of this attitude he had happened in 1990, just after Malone was edged out of the All-Star game starting lineup voting by AC Green. He threatened to boycott the event, and promptly dropped 61 points, grabbed 18 boards, got 2 assists and two steals against the Milwaukee Bucks the very next night. Malone played with a chip on his shoulder and like he had something to prove.
Why bring this up? Well the Jazz front office has built a team full of guys who have that chip on their shoulder. Each player, it seems has something to prove or a stigma to lose. Each of these guys have reason to take a page out of the Mailman’s book, and make it clear that they do not deserve any stigma that is attached to their names.
Tyrone Corbin: He is out of excuses. His roster is undoubtedly improved, He has had a full training camp, and he has established himself as the coach for the Jazz. He has a versatile roster and making this group of guys successful will absolutely comedown to his rotation and the execution of his philosophy.
Al Jefferson: He is not considered a winner in the NBA. It seems he is the team’s biggest target for criticism here in the state, and his defense is constantly called into question. There is a percentage of vocal fans who are frustrated with his defense. He is in danger of receiving the "Boozer treatment." Big Al needs to find his "Inner Malone"
Paul Millsap: This man was born with a chip on his shoulder. A 2nd round draft pick, snubbed from the All-Star game, and fighting perceptions that he is to small to be a big man in this league.
Derrick Favors: LOTS to prove. Drafted #3 in the draft and working to not get that dreaded label, of being a bust. He was discarded by his previous team without even a second thought. I believe the table is set for him to breakout this year,
Randy Foye: Taken 7th in the draft by Boston, then traded twice in a span of ten minutes. Some thought he could be one of the best players in that draft, and yet until he was traded to us, I know many Jazz fans who aren't huge NBA fans who had never heard of him. Hopefully he changes that.
Enes Kanter: He doesn’t seem like a "chip on his shoulder" type. However look how he responded this off-season with his weight loss and conditioning. He is the #3 pick who isn’t mentioned much in the playing time battle and hopefully….that motivates him.
Marvin Williams: Perhaps the best example of my point. Drafted 2nd overall he has largely been considered a bust. Now in a new environment he can rewrite his NBA story. So far he seems motivated to do just that.
Mo Williams: His one All-Star season was in the shadow of Lebron James. Then played in the shadow of CP3 and Chauncy Billups in LA. Certainly he was never considered the first option by the Clippers. Now he is back with the team that drafted him in the second round, and let him go for Raul Lopez, who didn’t play another game. Yeah, I have a feeling he is more motivated this year than ever before.
Alec Burks: Another guy who was born with this attribute. He was not highly sought after out of high school. He is fighting for minutes and it’s clear he plays like he wants everyone to see that he is a star in this league.
Jamaal Tinsley: The Jazz were the only team calling, and if he doesn’t play well, it’s likely the end of his career.
Kevin Murphy: The second rounders always have something to prove.
For years the Jazz have been built with mid-to-late first round picks and diamond in the rough second round picks who over-achieve. For the first time in my lifetime the Utah Jazz have 7 guys on their roster taken in the first 15 picks in the draft, each with something to prove. It all adds up for a potentially exciting season.
Who do you think is most likely to find their "Inner-Malone"?
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.
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