Pop Rocks vs Potential
Watching the American Baking Competition on TV earlier this month made me realize that basketball is in your head all year long, even during the summer. In the episode, one of the contestants made her show stopper cakes with Pop Rocks. You know, those candy that kids used to eat with a mouth full of soda and hope they don't pass out when you start spewing foam everywhere? One of the judges did not know what ‘Pop Rocks’ was, and his face when he tried them, was priceless. His mouth swelled, and he cleared his throat a few times before shaking his head and walking off camera to get a drink, or twenty. After a min I thought ‘that's just like my opinion of the Jazz.’ I had been told, for years, we had potential. I don't want potential, Who cares about the five hours it takes to make a cake, just put the Pop Rocks in my mouth and let me spew foam.
I am not a stat person. I cannot even get the years right in whatever comment I make without looking it up. However, I have been watching the Jazz since 1989. My first game was with two children, a toddler and a kindergartener, with tickets the Miller Organization gave us for Sub for Santa. It was at the salt palace and was against the spurs. I remember thinking ‘please make that big white guy faster in the middle (Eaton). Wow who is the rookie? (Blue Edwards) and hmm, that point guard seemed short (Stockton), and I hope neither little boy has a potty accident with me sitting in the middle of the aisle because someone took my seat.’ We won that game with the Spurs, and all I heard as I researched the Jazz was how much potential we had as a team.
The Jazz have that chance now.... To put the Pop Rocks in our mouth and let us go. They are dangling the candy. They have been since right before the draft when they did not even hint at interest of keeping Millsap or Jefferson. They let us hear about how they did in ‘minicamp’ and let us watch some great promise in the candy during the Summer League in Orlando. Then the potential anvil fell and we gained 3 vets in trade for ...wait for it.. ‘Potential’ room to maneuver next year for the draft and the free agent class. Then we sign a ‘Top’ potential vet in John Lucas III and although I try, really hard, not to criticize, all I have in my head is the old statements of Corbin about what happened in his career to make him like starting vets first, and nightmares about potential that I have had for 25 years.
When fans screamed on twitter, and in posts and questions about how is it going with Burke? How is Gordon’s leadership going to mingle better? (having the young guys spread around the globe with no hint they are talking off-season or working together doesn’t help). We want Neto this season, and how well can Gobert and Kanter work together? (granted I had flashbacks of how often they shipped Fesinko to the D League.) Are the young guys going to start, get more minutes, ect?
All we got is "Wait and see". Watch the signs, the ‘We will have to see’ is the parents way of saying heck no, I have to do a criminal background check on the boy before you can date him.
For years, as a closet Jazz Fan, I have been getting the statement.. "He has Potential"
This is why my father never met anyone I dated. I was getting that line with the Jazz, I certainly did not need it at home.
- ‘Mark Eaton is one of the best blocking presence we can have at the post, just wait and see.’ Well I waited. I apparently got into this one late, as he was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 (the year I saw the Jazz for the first time), and named to the All Defensive Team. There were times that I was impressed with his abilities, but it did not make us a better team, and eventually it was gone..poof. He started having knee and back issues when I had just gotten interested in the Jazz.
-Stockton and Malone are the new era at pick and roll. Once we get a good defensive support staff around them we will win a ring.... they were great, but the ‘support staff’ had good potential, but it never clicked after going to the finals twice. I believe, personally, that we were still too small of a market to have the ‘bling to swing’ a staff worthy of those two. They weren’t enough to defeat someone like Jordan and his merry men alone, and that was something never supplied them. When Malone went elsewhere, the dream realized that it took two of them, and then merry men, to make the Robin Hood we all dreamed about.
-Dantley is a beast, you just watch him go. I did. I heard about him then didn't realize he had already been traded..yikes.
-Here is where you enter the rest of the Utah Jazz through the 1997 playoffs into 2k. Some I liked, but they were never pieced together well. Who was Keefe again? and The original Junk Yard Dog (Carr), well, I thought he could have done more to help in that game we Jazz players never talk about.
- Arroyo is the new era for the jazz, we turned a leaf in, wait..who is the rookie? Oh that's right, it was a few weeks of Arroyo this and that, then Deron Williams and all of a sudden Arroyo was the 4th pg in the possible rotation and angry he was traded. and in 2010 he was arrested. Yup.
- Deron Williams. Now I missed that draft, believe it or not, due to being on the road however Sirius Radio kept me updated, sometimes even more than NBA TV or news did about the Jazz. I was excited hearing about Williams and Boozer, Korver with his three and I thought, now all they need is stretch room and they have that potential they talked about. Then in walks Memo and Kerilinko. Could it be?
- I saw my first game with them, while I was in L.A. on vacation with my significant other. He thought I was nuts when I dominated the TV in the hotel room with a bucket of KFC and screaming for 2-3 hours (it was the year we went to the western conference finals.)
I realized that the team had potential but it was not going to work. Although, I am a hypocrite because each year I chose to tell everyone this was the year. I fell along the Memo and A.K bandwagon, even with the huge contracts that Zeus would be proud to have, and told everyone we just needed work, we had the potential. It was the following years that I quit believing in the potential
1- I watched as DWill’s attitude on the floor tended to affect his other teammates. I watched how some of the Potentials wanted rings and some of the younger guys were not getting minutes and bouncing to the various D League teams like a yo-yo.
2- I watched people like JCollins, and Koufus go to other teams and do a heck of a lot better on defense compared to when they were here.
3- I heard all the hype about players wanting to stay, but still getting traded to bring in people we did not know and should love for their stats. Yea the offense game was afoot, but the defense got worse by the year.
4- We lost our coach that we had loved for years, and then the jaded opinions came out as to why the coach who had tenure and so much potential never received a ring, and did not stay. (No matter the critics or thoughts I will always love the presence Sloan commanded on the bench line. Always). And yes, he was jipped by the spurs coach to get Coach of the Year. Period.
and so on....
We were never the Pop Rocks of Miami, or even the Nets, or what Atlanta could possibly be this year with our former players. We could have been, many years over, but the pieces did not fit. This year I say, screw the potential. (sorry bout the language) We have young guys who should be all-stars if they play right. I don't want to hear about another player that has such potential, that we have to leave them somewhere else so long they become another asset in a future potential trade.. (Can we make Potential another swear word in the English language?) That potential you have been hiding in your coat pocket pretending its a gun? Well its a gun this year, so pull it out and hold up the NBA, put them on notice.
Please, please, from someone who cannot spout stats, or even explain the feelings I get, or the hunches that usually end up right, Let them Play. Pour the Pop Rocks of Kanter, Favors, Hayward, Burks, and Burke down my throat and let me spit foam. Pour soda down after them by bringing Neto in and finding another young either for the 4 or the 2. I don't want another Matthews that slips through our fingers while we are looking for potential room. I don't want another year of analyzing how many minutes are taken away from the potential young players for the vets. We don't want, in my opinion, another 5-10 year could-a-be that needs to reinvent himself or improve his game while we wait and see what potential financial windfall we can get out of them next year. I don't want another Ante Tomic who has such potential, hes not worth what we would have to pay him to come over from Europe. They want to play. WE want them to play. You, as an organization, already have room to maneuver next year so please stock up on this year's Pop Rocks and take the chance to be a kid again!! Believe me if its anyone that needs a chance to relive their childhood, it's the Utah Jazz and the TONS of fans in this small franchise that have supported you for years.
Thanks Santa, I mean Dennis Lindsey