So this one time I was forced to watch a movie called Pitch Perfect... Don't worry, I didn't let my mind stray from the Jazz for one moment! Pitch Perfect is about an epic journey of an all girl a cappella group trying to win the big competition thingy. (I'm pretty sure that is its official name)
It begins as a rebuilding year, there are only two veterans remaining from the previous team. They have a certain way that they do things and a very important tradition. They fill their remaining slots with a lot of young players who will be their core for years to come, each brings something special and has something different to offer. The majority of them are not complete players, but they all bring something special to the table. As a team they compliment each other beautifully, depending on the song several people are always able to step up and do what is needed in a given situation.
With their vets leading them into the competitions, their predictable play gets them second place at regionals. It was safe, they knew what to do, and it had been proven over years of competitions. They don't take any chances, or try anything new. It does get above-average results, but nobody enjoys watching them. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of excitement or urgency in their performance to really take that next step.
One of the new recruits has some great ideas, but she's a little different. (I assume she grew up playing tennis and Starcraft) She tries to add some spice and improve upon what was tried and true. It doesn't work at first, and they end up finishing one spot below where they needed to advance, say 9th place.
I don't want to spoil this amazing movie, but things were not pretty for a while after that. Things may look pretty bad for our Jazz, but at least we aren't making snow angels in vomit yet. In the end the team is turned over to the rising stars, and the result is pure magic, magic, magic. (Erving not Orlando)
It's been hard being a Jazz fan this year. Many of our local sports teams are great at getting us excited for the coming year. They know what they are doing and will say what needs to be said to sell season tickets. They get many of our hopes up with their talk about how we will be better by subtraction, (Bell, Howard) as well as from within. Surely all of our young players will have improved!
We have had a system that is tried and true. We had some vets who were given the reigns this year and were going to lead the way. We also had some great new talent and were told we were going to have a season full of beautiful Jazz harmony.
We are lucky as Jazz fans to have been blessed with so many years where we were very successful, and often over-achieved. Even with our 26-56 year, or when we were predicted to have the worst team in history, we stood by our Jazz. One thing I have always felt defined our team was that we outworked everyone else and played with a lot of heart.
However the pitch-pipe was never passed on to our young stars. We continued riding our vets into some very predictable basketball that was often underwhelming. We caught glimpses of what was coming, yet it never did.
I feel that for possibly the first time we are under-achieving. I think that hurts me more than the losing. Maybe it's my own fault for thinking we were going to have improved. Shame on me for thinking maybe we could get a 7th spot, or win a playoff game or two this year.
Sometimes I believe the Jazz organization believes that we as fans care so much about winning, and winning now, that we wouldn't have understood taking a step back this year. You can't have one foot in rebuilding, and one in the playoffs. I believe that Jazz fans can be some of the most intelligent out there, and we all understand that sometimes you have to take a step back to take a few forward. This will most likely be the case next year, and I know that I for one am fine with that.
My only questions have been, that if this is the case, why not start the process this year? Why play all of these players who are going to graduate our choir next year and move on with their lives? If the players don't act like they care about winning must win games in New York, Houston, or Dallas, why should I care about them? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I am, and will always be, a huge Jazz fan. This season is what it is, but maybe it's time to pass that pitch-pipe and start preparing for next years regionals. Our Pitch Perfect season may not be too far away. You never know what miraculous things could happen. I just hope we get to end this season watching a team that has that heart and pride that I've always loved. You do that Jazz, and we will always love you, just the way you are.