I was loudly opposed to the Jazz making the playoffs.
My reasons swirled around two issues: 1) the TWolves pick. I didn't want to lose it. I thought picking up an extra kid like Rivers, Lamb or Miller would benefit the team more than a a few extra games; and 2) I knew we would have to face the Thunder or Spurs. I thought we would just get drummed so badly there wouldn't even be a moral victory left to show for our efforts.
But I was wrong.
Here is what the Jazz making the playoffs means to all of us.
For our four young guys, making the playoffs means that the Jazz are a winning brand. What is Tyreke, Demarcus and Thornton supposed to think when they see their team perpetually losing, never seeming to improve? What positive culture can the Warriors instill into Curry, Thompson and their vets when they seemingly lose games for a mid lottery pick?
Hayward said (paraphrasing) that the goal wasn't to make the playoffs, but to win a title. This is all speculation, but what would Stephen Curry say? Maybe something along the lines of: "uh, well, we lose games to hope to get a guy that 6 other teams passed on, so we, can, uh, you know it's building for the future."
Our youth know that we play to win. They also know that Jazz brass have enough confidence in them that they don't feel the need to tank for reinforcements.
To Al Jefferson
Some Blazers fan over at BlazersEdge said something along the lines about Al of: "Al looks content to just eat waffles on his mother's couch."
FOr 7 years Al was the called the guy who put him numbers, but not wins. Well, that theory can now RIP.
Al's not perfect. But his passing has made STRIDES. Against Phoenix, he summoned the best inside of him, hustling, cleaning the glass, making Gortat soil himself. He made the shots when it mattered most.
No Al doesn't just put up numbers and eat waffles on couches. He has the heart and the mettle of someone who wins.
(And as a sidenote- MIllsap has proven to any doubters that he is a starter in this league)
Coach came into a tough situation last season- and then got no training camp this season. Yet, he led his team to the playoffs his first full season. Kudos, Corbin.
Vindication. It's gutsy to trade your franchise. But his haul was impressive. A passable PG, two promising bigs (one with all NBA potential), plus some more boot in store. AND THE TEAM HE ASSEMBLED MADE THE PLAYOFFS ONE YEAR LATER!
Fortune truly favors the bold.
To Small Market Teams
Superstars have been long fled franchises for years. Barkley sort of force his way out of Philly. The Wolves traded KG. Magic lost Shaq, and now D12 is putting them through misery. Melodrama. CP3. DWill may leave the Nets holding the bag.
The Jazz sent a clear message to the fans and front offices of less desirable franchises: losing your star is not nuclear winter. Play your cards right and these players will not hold you hostage and will not cripple your franchise when they bail.
And finally, to fans
We spend money on tickets, drinks, popcorn, hats, shirts, parking, lifesize posters of Matty and Boler....we invest our time, our emotion. We lose our voices rooting for them. We support them in thick and thin. Always have.
And by making the playoffs against all odds, our team has shown us that this is a team that is worth it. I got caught up in the magic beans of lottery picks, but this team showed me that they will fight tooth and nail to bring out the best in themselves. They showed us that our money, our time, our cheers and our tears aren't wasted on a franchise that only exists to make a dime and is not serious about winning.
The playoffs will probably not yield us a title this year. I'm not trying to be a downer, only practical. But in my eyes this season has been a success because it has brought out the very best in our coaches, in our front office, in our players...and in us, the fans. This is a team worth rooting for.
We are Utah Jazz