Hello all! Longtime lurker here who has finally made an effort to join the conversation, or in this case, start the conversation.
My question to you guys is, as Jazz fans, what do you want the most from the organization? I feel like the Jazz are one of the organizations that has been defined by their consistent performance, and specifically how they've been able to achieve success. For the past few seasons, however, I've felt that they team has lost it's identity. Obviously when you lose an iconic figure like Jerry Sloan things are going to change, but since his departure I've sensed that the Jazz have not only lost their identity as a team, but also failed to find a new identity.
The obvious answer is championships; the ultimate goal is always to win a championship. Then again, everyone wants championships, and the Jazz don't have any, so what makes us still love this team? This is where some variation happens. Is it because the team, for the most part, is always competing for something? Could it be that we have an attractive style of basketball? How about us simply having likable players and coaches?
This is where it gets interesting for me considering the team is at some for of crossroads at the moment. Yes, I am talking about the hottest topic on SLC Dunk: the vets versus the young guys. For the duration of the season, Ty Corbin and management seemed to heavily back the vets in order to stay competitive. That for me was the tagline of the season, "Competitive for 82 games". How important to you was that, and how important do you think that was for the Jazz fanbase as a whole?
From my perspective, the Jazz compromised the other two aforementioned factors (attractive basketball and favored players) in order to stay competitive. I believe that the general opinion of all Jazz fans is that the young players are more fun to watch and in turn are also the fan favorites. I think this becomes more and more accurate if you look at more hardcore fans as well.
The debate is whether or not we should just hand the franchise over to Gordon, Derrick, and Enes. The fans love these guys, they enjoy watching them play, and is almost certain to happen at some point or another. The counter to that argument is that the Jazz do run the chance of having a stinker of a season in 2013-2014. If the Jazz were to roll out with the core four and PG "X" next season there will inevitably be growing pains. Are Jazz fans willing to take a step back in order to take two steps forward? Or would the franchise be better off hovering with the hope of taking a step forward?
I've put in a little research and have come up a few data points. The Jazz haven't had many down years, so it's a little difficult to predict how the fanbase would react now. The team's only true down year was in the 2004-2005 season. The Jazz finished with an abysmal 26 wins that year. It's difficult to remember the general buzz about that team, but from attendance records, it appears that the opinion of the Jazz was just as high as the years prior and resulting seasons. Despite being one of the worst teams in the NBA that season, the organization ranked 8th in attendance. I compared that to other seasons, and found that 8th place was very typical. The Jazz have generally ranked from 4-7 in good years, and 8-10 less successful seasons. In fact, since moving into the Delta Center in 1991, the Jazz have never been outside of the top 10. That is, except for this most recent season in which they finished 13th. To repeat that, the Jazz had their worst attendance ranking ever since the opening of the Delta Center over two decades ago! Eye opening for me!
In conclusion, I don't think the need to be competitive each and every season is essential to appeasing the Utah Jazz fanbase. I think the fanbase is willing to take a down year as long as it does not become the norm. On the contrary, I feel that this "treading water" phase is bad for the organization. The fans have lost interest in this team, and it's not necessarily because the team isn't getting enough wins. The team has been heading in no apparent direction and the fans notice that.
If you've made it this far I'd love to hear your thoughts!