The Downbeat #817 - Winter is Coming

We didn't hit on it much, but the US Men's Basketball Team again won the gold medal in the Olympics. What a great game it was, too. I thought that the Spanish team fought hard and gave the US team a good run. I said it last week, but I'm saying it again: I'm proud of this Olympic team. They were great ambassadors and I had a fantastic time cheering for them.

If it seems I get a little too excited about the Olympic team, I guess it comes down to this: It gives us a chance to cheer for some really great players that we are otherwise inclined to dislike. I relished this opportunity to cheer for LeBron. What an amazing, amazing player he is, and taken out of the context of the Miami Heat, it is a blast to cheer for him. Guess what? Same thing for Melo. I know this is borderline blasphemy, but I got a little bit of joy out of seeing him shine in international ball. When you get right down to it, these guys are all just people. Most younger, but all around the same age as I, and it is neat to see young men compete and succeed at something they love. For me, it really is the same reason I cheer for Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps, or Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings, or the amazing women's soccer team.

I can't wait to see who takes over to carry the torch into Rio, and I hope that we get to see some of our guys compete for their country and grow as people like so many of their peers have.

Gordon Monson wrote a pretty scathing commentary on the Lakers acquisition of Dwight Howard yesterday. If you didn't see it, you can find it here. He really does a good job of voicing many of our frustrations, but he missed on an important point: What are the rest of the teams in the league thinking? I find it absurd the way so many teams quietly complain about "parity", then do things like this. If the owners truly want to have that competitive balance, they need to find on their own. Just like the Pau Gasol trade a few years ago, the rest of us are left thinking, "Why the hell would they do that?". Sure, it worked out in the long run for the Grizzlies, but only after the Lakers hoisted two more championship banners. But what of the Magic? This deal is worse than the Grizzlies' version. Sure, they got a great player in Aaron Afflalo, but what else? A slew of protected, but otherwise late round draft picks. They didn't even get anything good in the trade. They gave the Lakers what they wanted, shed a ton of salary, and now will be sitting idle for at least 3 years as they try and out-lose the next worst team in the league to score the next LeBron or KD.

This business of small market teams running their franchises in constant fear has gotten stale, and the game is worse off for it. Yes, there will now be a west coast equivalent of the Heat that will surely be a great draw for the home teams, and we all have a scary new nemesis to root against, but its not real. The fact of the matter is that this will probably make everyone a little richer- the other owners, the TV networks, and certainly the Lakers, but those of us that care so deeply about this stupid game have suffered a large setback.

What is truly is the worst part about this whole deal? The obnoxious Lakers fans that we have to deal with at Energy Solutions Arena will be reinvigorated, nay, emboldened to raise their obnoxiousness to levels we have never seen.

Yes, this is me being a bit cynical, modernagejazzfan. I get one pass.

The writers at NBA.com (who, as an aside, are really great) have released their Summer Report Cards for all of the teams' offseason activities. The Jazz received a B-, with Scott Howard-Cooper having this to say about the new Jazz:

"Second place in the Northwest is realistic and so is moving up a couple spots in the West playoff ladder. But, like the Nuggets, the team ahead of them in the standings last season, that is different from a natural progression into the upper echelon of the conference. The Jazz have not shown that ability yet. The progress, though, is unmistakable."

I think this is a more than fair assessment of this team and about what we can expect when the season predictions and beginning power rankings are released in the next few months.

The only "A's" were given to the Sixers, Nets, and of course, the Lakers. I'm still not convinced the first two are going to be that much better.

The complete scorecard is here.

Speaking of NBA.com writers, David Aldridge is one of my all time favorites. I can remember him doing the sideline reports all those years during the Jazz's run in the late nineties. Well, on his Morning Tip from this Monday, he laid a well deserved smackdown on a Jazz fan that criticized his writing about the Jazz:

Yes, Neil, if you've ever read what I've written about the Jazz over the years, it's been mainly about how they're not any good because they never call attention to themselves and always make poor decisions. You can disagree with the ranking, but I have consistently written and said that the Jazz do things the right way and never make excuses about their market size. As for the Thunder, I put them -- slightly -- ahead of Utah because Oklahoma City re-signed Scott Brooks, who's been crucial to that team's development and deportment. Losing him would have been a big blow, and, yes, I think a team that made the Finals has more to lose than a team that made the first round and got swept.

DA, along with the rest of his peers at NBA.com (Scott Howard-Cooper, Steve Aschburner, and John Schuhmann) are consistently very praising of the Jazz, especially as a franchise. Further, they are fantastic about responding to us Jazz fans on Twitter, so lets all make sure to get the facts straight before we flame one of them. After all, its not like they're Chris Broussard.

Sorry for the late DB. Enjoy the dog days of summer because Winter is Coming, and with it the NBA season. So sound off in the comments about which storyline you are most interested in seeing play out. How will Coach Corbin improve? How much better did the 3rd year guys get? Will Burks compete for the starting SG spot? How will the front court situation play out?

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