Are you still buzzing about the Jazz's win over the Rockets on Monday? I am. I loved it. Forget all the mitigating factors. Forget whether the Rockets just had a bad shooting night. I don't care. That was a Jazz team win, propelled by players that represent the future of the franchise, and I loved it.
But should I have? On Twitter after the game, there seemed to be a split between those celebrating a rare victory in an otherwise dreary season and those pointing out that every Jazz win takes the organization that much further away from the best shot at the top pick in next summer's draft.
I'm not criticizing either side (as much as there are sides at all which there really aren't except that Twitter makes everything seem like everyone is taking a side and maybe I shouldn't spend so much time on there and okay I'm rambling now). Both reactions make sense.
But for me, wins are always worth celebrating when they happen in ways that help the team improve.
Playing to "win" last year was frustrating because it meant relying on players that weren't in the Jazz's long-term plans. It meant squandering a chance at a brighter future in favor of a mediocre present.
That's not what wins mean now. If this Jazz roster wins any games at all, it will be because the pieces we want to develop -- pieces like Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke -- are leading the way. I think those wins are extremely valuable, even at the "cost" of giving up our league-worst record.
I mean, let's not kid ourselves -- wins like Monday's will be rare this year. This Jazz roster just isn't strong enough to sustain that kind of effort. That's not a condemnation of any of our "young" players, or a referendum on whether they should or shouldn't have played more last year. It's just reality.
That's why I'm going to enjoy every last W. Wins build confidence and help our players learn. Losses mean we maintain a good position for the lottery. It's a win-win situation.
You always hear characters in romantic comedies talk about the one single moment that made them fall in love.
I hate romantic comedies.
Most of them, anyway. I hate most of them because they're cheesy, saccharine, unrealistic portrayals of real relationships. Maybe I'm speaking out of turn as a single dude veering perilously close to middle age, but I don't think it works like that.
But I know the exact moment I fell in love with Trey Burke.
That's after Marvin Williams hit the key 3-pointer that sealed Monday's win for the Jazz. And that's how stoked Trey is -- not for himself, but for the team. He didn't make the shot. He didn't even make the pass that led to the shot. His exultation is on behalf of himself, yes, as a member of the winning team, but also on behalf of every single person wearing a J-note, player and fan alike.
This is one of my favorite things about sports -- this sense of communal ecstasy, the players and fans rejoicing as one.
British author ("High Fidelity") and obsessive Arsenal FC fan Nick Hornby explains this in his fan-memoir "Fever Pitch," which I've referenced here before. I'm going to quote an excerpt from that book here, and I apologize in advance for its length and its obscure English soccer references, but it really nails my feelings on this topic:
One thing I know for sure about being a fan is this: it is not a vicarious pleasure, despite all appearances to the contrary, and those who say that they would rather do than watch are missing the point.
Football is a context where watching becomes doing – not in the aerobic sense, because watching a game, smoking your head off while doing so, drinking after it has finished and eating chips on the way home is unlikely to do you a whole lot of Jane Fonda good, in the way that chuffing up and down a pitch is supposed to.
But when there is some kind of triumph, the pleasure does not radiate from the players outwards until it reaches the likes of us at the back of the terraces in a pale and diminished form; our fun is not a watery version of the team’s fun, even though they are the ones that get to score the goals and climb the steps at Wembley to meet Princess Diana. The joy we feel on occasions like this is not a celebration of others’ good fortune, but a celebration of our own; and when there is a disastrous defeat the sorrow that engulfs us is, in effect, self-pity, and anyone who wishes to understand how football is consumed must realise this above all things.
The players are merely our representatives, chosen by the manager rather than elected by us, but our representatives nonetheless, and sometimes if you look hard you can see the little poles that join them together, and the handles at the side that enable us to move them.
I am a part of the club, just as the club is a part of me; and I say this fully aware that the club exploits me, disregards my views, and treats me shoddily on occasions, so my feeling of organic connection is not built on a muddle-headed and sentimental misunderstanding of how professional football works.
This Wembley win belonged to me every bit as much as it belonged to Charlie Nicholas or George Graham (does Nicholas, who was dropped by Graham right at the start of the following season, and then sold, remember the afternoon as fondly?), and I worked every bit as hard for it as they did.
The only difference between me and them is that I have put in more hours, more years, more decades than them, and so had a better understanding of the afternoon, a sweeter appreciation of why the sun still shines when I remember it.
I don't know how long Trey Burke will play for the Jazz. I don't know if he'll even be that good a player in the long run. But I love him for giving me that moment as a fan -- for sharing my joy. And I can't wait for more.
FanPost time! Let's get right to it.
With Enes Kanter struggling recently, as MyLo discussed in yesterday's Downbeat, and Marvin stepping into the starting PF slot, SKMike takes a look at whether the Jazz are better served with a "stretch 4":
I look around the league's top teams and don't see too many stretch bigs starting. Indiana (Hibbert and West), SA (Duncan and Splitter), Clippers (Jordan and Griffin), Portland (Lopez and Aldridge), OKC (Perkins and Ibaka), Memphis (Gasol and Randolph), Miami (Bosh and Haslem, not always), etc. Now these teams do have backups who can stretch the floor or move 3's to 4 as in Durant and James down the stretch. And I don't mind Williams getting major minutes off the bench but mostly at the expense of Jefferson, not Kanter, Gobert, and Evans.
Maybe Kanter and Favors can't develop into a quality tandem like these teams have but still think in the Season of Discovery they should be given an opportunity. I want to know before we have to decide on what sort of extension, if any, Kanter is offered next summer. Starting Williams at PF and playing Kanter only 14 minutes as backup C doesn't help solve that question.
Next, pacoelcid has created a TON of interesting charts illustrating a variety of topics, including the value of each current Jazz player and whether more time spent together as a roster has meant more wins for the Jazz historically. That last one I found especially interesting:
Lots of great data there, so click through for all of it and to discuss what it means.
Lilbax shared a video with some of his thoughts after last Friday's loss to Phoenix. I'm taking the liberty of embedding it here:
Be sure to click to the FanPost for commenting purposes, though.
Finally, Loaf619 wants to know who your picks would be for an all-time all-Beehive State squad. Go check out his choices, and share your own.
Thanks for all the great stuff, peeps. I learn something new from our community every week.
I often highlight content from DN beat writer Jody Genessy here; he's a good friend and he does great work. Recently, he's been sharing more personal stories on his website. Most aren't about the Jazz (although all of them are worth reading), but his most recent post related a pretty neat story about a player who's taken a lot of flak from me and others on this site: John Lucas III.
I'll let you click through for the specifics and jump to Jody's summary:
Society sometimes dehumanizes professional athletes, almost turning them into mythical characters, heroes and villains there to entertain and infuriate real people. Athletically, they can do things we can only dream or write about. Physically, they're often stronger, quicker and taller. Financially, they make more money than most of us could even think about spending. They lead rich-and-famous lifestyles that most people only fantasize about. We put them on pedestals when they succeed, help our teams win and do SportsCenter-worthy acts. Or we criticize and demean them when they play poorly and contribute to our teams' losses.
On this morning, John Lucas III showed that he's far from being a stereotypical narcissistic athlete.
I didn't see an NBA player standing in front of me.
What I saw was a good-hearted man trying to make three young strangers happy through a thoughtful act. I've been on this assignment for six years and have never had a similar experience. Athletes and writers often only give each other questions and quotes, maybe funny or awkward exchanges. I don't even think John knows my name or who I work for. I wouldn't doubt if he'd do this for anybody's kids. That just seems to be his character.
I still may not want Lucas taking up minutes on the court -- and I think that's fair -- but I definitely respect him more as a person.
You've probably seen this by now, and it isn't Jazz-related, but I just thought it was hilarious. Enjoy.