[Sorry its Long]
(((My opinions on leadership in the Utah Jazz this year - Fan perspective only. I have said time and again that I am not a stat girl, and most of my posts are opinions alone. Please don't try to argue just based of your knowledge of stats, Stats are out of my depth. its just opinions and we all love the jazz. )))
I just finished listening to Randy Rigby on the radio talking with 1280 hosts about leadership. He talked about how the coaches are a part of the leadership package even though they are not on the floor (technically..we all remember when they do walk on the floor.) He talked about his opinion on Boozer and Williams, and the possible leaders of the 2013-2014 Jazz Team of youngsters. I have heard Trey Burke talk about wanting to be a leader on this team. There have been commentators galore the last few years that have said we lack a leadership in the locker room and on the floor as a team. Some have even went as far to say that Boozer and Williams were never true leaders because their end results were not working together, but working for themselves. (I am paraphrasing because I dont keep everyones posts or comments.) However, as a Jazz fan for over 25 years; I will have to "agree to disagree" on the point.
("I have a lot of confidence that Trey can [evolve into a leader]. The moment he got here he said, 'I wanna be a leader on this team.'"-Rigby) [Thank you Austin Horton for the quote on twitter from the broadcast.]
In my opinion, how not to be a leader: When I was in Junior High, I was sent to Summer Youth Training Camps at a couple Universities. They made you climb 10ft walls together. Tightrope walk across a ravine, and stay up all night because one of the group couldn't walk back with a sprained ankle. They told me that leading was trusting your life in others hands and show them how to do the same - Eeeek. The camp went about it all wrong but it was late 80’s. Yet---when I applied for jobs the next year, they said "Oh you have leadership experience on your resume" and I got in. Saying you know how, and telling everyone you want to be one, or expect to be a leader, is the same as saying ‘Ben Affleck will make us all forget anyone else who ever played Batman" *shakes head* My house is never going to be the same after that post today. But..and there is a but, the point is saying you can be a leader is worthless to me, and those who started out by calling themselves leaders, never made my grade. I learned those summers that even with a class or certificate, I still had a lot to learn, but even more to show.
How to start being a leader: Listening to those around you. This was a hard but fun lesson. I was irate that I could not perform in the school play, because the Orchestra needed a cellist and I was the only one in the school. It was humiliating at the time, and I was a very angry teen. In rehearsals, however, I realized how lacking the music was without one. I helped with other instruments during the play -finding the right sound to fill in the gaps without the teacher telling us (or my orchestra teacher). I may have cried over my acting career, but I listened to what they needed and did it. They never noticed or if so never commented on it, but the actors did and I knew what I did do, and that it was enough because I listened.
Gummy Bears- I watched all these kids for 7 brides for 7 brothers and realized that the rehearsals were too long for teenagers. I started bringing buckets of gummy bears to the set. There was singing as well as acting and you can picture this right? Sometimes it was too fast and too long between breaks and some were bored, some were borderline dehydrated and some were hypoglycemic and some were just hungry. Of course they had to keep their mouths clear because they spoke lines, or sang. My result was the bucket of gummy bears. I watched them fail attempts at trying to sneak cookies or crackers or chips. The results were all the same, they couldn't swallow it and clear their mouth in time to speak or sing. With the gummy bears, they could pop one or two, build their saliva and swallow easy cuz of the gummy and clear their throat to sing on command. I had a bucket of bears all the last week of rehearsal and during the performance. All of the main actors and actresses (except 1 who did not like me ever) as well as the support cast would sneak down behind the stage, into the orchestra pit, and snag a handful of gummy bears to eat when it wasn't their turn.
Realizing that being a leader is rewarding to yourself, as much as it is those around you (cohesion in leadership)- I was surprised that the teacher let me feed the cast gummy bears the whole time. On the last day of dress rehearsal, they were practicing Sabine Women (song in the play) when 3 of the seniors turn to sing their part, and nothing came out of their mouths but a whole color-screen of gummy bears instead of lyrics. Gummy Bears fell on the floor and stuck, everyone was laughing too hard to continue rehearsal that day, and I found out later from one of the guys that it was their way of protesting back that I was not included in the stage play. They got me on stage one way or another. I played my heart out those nights, 5 instruments, one avalanche and applause that only my teachers and those on stage got to reciprocate those nights. I realized that I did not let them down and I did not let myself down, because I knew I did everything i could those nights.
There's a great article in Forbes about leadership but in my opinion somewhat misleading. you can be a leader, IMO, without being the vocal or social one. To me, Leadership is: Being your full potential, in hopes that it inspires others and achieves a goal. Or, Maximizing your potential, in order to inspire others and achieve goals.
"So what is leadership?
DEFINITION: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal."
Jazz Leadership - When it comes to sports, and specially my Utah Jazz, leadership is going to be a double edged blade for them this year. Everyone is on the leadership bandwagon. Who will be the leaders of the Utah Jazz? Should there be more than one? Locker room and floor? Front and Back Courts? Power Forward and Guard? Theres one thing that I think everyone is missing. The great leaders (or great moments of past leaders in the Jazz. I have a whole opinion about Dwill’s ideas of leadership and choose not to go there now)- Its not the hype, its not the mouth, the promise, the cameras or even the training and experience at leadership that they might have or say they have (yes thats a subtle poke hopefully in the right spot): Its the spark.
Stockton and Malone. Now I know that Malone was somewhat vocal in the past, but what made them great Jazz leaders were not the interviews or in the middle court flipping a coin or shaking hands together, it was that spark they always filled their teams up with. Stockton’s quiet reserve and tenacity that he rarely spoke about yet when he was on the floor, EVERY Jazz player felt it. Every Jazz player strives for it. Malone was vocal and yes there might be some odd moments between the Jazz and him, but his spark, was his intellect. Everyone's laughing for one reason or another either because I mentioned intellect or because I did not mention Malone’s physicality. Too bad, think what you like, but Malone paid attention. He knew with training and listening to his coach, where to find the weakness in the walls of the other teams, how to take it down, how to bulk up the right way, and show the other bigs how its done. It did not take much other than him paying attention, and showing that spark of ‘this is how you do it’ on the floor and the rest of the team would follow him into Hades.
Dwill - well sorry I won't go there much. He did, in my opinion, show me that spark of desperate cohesion that I searched for through all his play, but it was only once. All of the playoffs, the year we went to the Western Conference Finals (I think it was 2006 but dont quote me. There I was in California for the 30th anniversary ed, Star Wars Convention (Shout out to @slccomiccon here, its going to be soo kewl and i'm gonna miss it *pout*)) I laid on a hotel room bed, sharing KFC with Ben and introducing the South Carolina boy how fun the Jazz were to watch. DWill was almost in desperate helper mode because of the lack of Fisher, but in those moments he filled in; he wanted it, he wanted to bring it out in others, he desperately wanted everyone to see the spark in them as a whole team and for once he seemed to fully listen to Coach Sloan no matter what….and he did bring the spark, it was a fantastic series that year. (there was a huge lesson, for me at least, in watching DWill play- burning yourself at both ends only saps you and makes you miss important things - like the wayside CJ started slipping in)
Matt Harpring - You say what? I say haha there was someone under all that, other than a commentator. No matter what team for the Jazz he was on, no matter who they were playing, you got excited when the toughness finally hit the floor. I am not saying what he did all the time was right or wrong. I am saying that you knew he had your back, you knew that if there were bodies hitting the floor that he would make sure it was noticed. You also knew, when Matt played, that the grit came out in the other players on the floor. Whatever type of spark he brought, good or bad, it was HIGHLY infectious, and made everyone there a better team. (I liked Carroll for the same reasons.)
Wesley Matthews- Say you do know you put someone here who wasn't with the team too long right? He’s a shooter, he's not a shooter, he is a defender..stats don't reflect that. Who the flip cares? I had to watch mostly from home, yet, every time I saw Matthews, I felt that I could walk on the floor and just play with him. He had that combined desperation, tenacity, and sheer will to get it done that left me speechless. Wesley Matthews got on the floor and I swear all the Jazz Players sat straighter in their seats, they cheered him on more, and they watched and learned. And yes, I cried and reached for my basketball when I heard he was gone. From the camp, to the end of his Jazz career, he showed us how to achieve "it" that eludes humans from the beginning of time.
Future Spark Possiblities:
Trey Burke- Until he starts showing me that he is doing, more than talking, I cannot form an opinion on his leadership. TBurke invested in an app, TBurke is doing a clinic in Michigan, TBurke is playing hoop rounds with his former teammates for charity far away. TBurke already had a financial plan before the draft and teams to help him do it. Did anyone else notice that all his pre-draft planning was centered around Michigan and Piston help and influences? Yet how is it going to translate to Utah now that Pistons didn't draft him? Oh Utah is a nice place, in the last days of June, and then Utah nothing. ((I rather like where I think Trey Burke could go, please don't get me wrong, but he needs to shift his center of gravity before he gets here. Hes just making strides in other places, but not leadership and nothing that I know of..yea keyword, I know, here in Utah yet. Its near the end of August, Rudy Gobert is here...where is Trey?))
Yea he was with some in Vegas, or SB, but did he call them before hand? How many of them has he reached out too? Did he go train a bit with Lucas? Did he ask how Rudy’s foot is doing? Or Kanter? Has he already planned on where to settle in Utah? How is he going to fix the jitters or whatever they are calling it now, that happened in Orlando? ((One commentator actually said he needed rest. All my non-knowing brain cells screamed at me, he needs rest after one game? wow talk about ‘ride hard and put up wet’ )) It won't matter to me if a heavenly host says hes leadership material, until he shows it. So stat shmat, who cares about summer now, it was summer. But I need to see it first. The 80’s girl in me says "Put up or shut up" Man I feel old. I believe you can Burke, so start shifting your interviews and social to Utah..your basketball self will follow.
Favors and Kanter- I am lumping them together for a couple of reasons. They could be leaders for this team. They had enough influence, they both had their moments in the last year or two where they slammed down, stood up for their team, and kept through despite the fouls, shots, or the bruising. So what if Favors doesn't talk a lot. So what if the sting like a bee look in Kanter’s eyes is from a lack of sleep due to religious fever, They could be our Put up or shut up team: Our Smash Brothers! They can be the head of the battering ram showing the rest of the team how hard and fast to push. I would like to see some of their training with Malone integrated with one or two of their teammates. Part of the problem sometimes with Malone, that I don't want for them, was that the team didn’t always understand where Malone’s head was, even if they followed him into Hades.
Alec Burks- He has that same spark possible that Matthews had, and sometimes he shows it. However, something gets lost in translation. It is almost like sometimes he knows his role and sometimes hes not sure where he fits in. If he wants to help lead this team, he needs to know how his spark fires the engine and where he belongs.
Gordon Hayward - I have hope in his leadership capabilities, however I have yet to see the cohesion with the team. Great with Jazz Camps, USA Camps and screen time, not so great with knowing or talking with the team (again only what I can see I don't have a crystal ball- but my broke crystal ball asks you to tweet some of this stuff, or invite other Jazz players to talk or play with you.)) Hes a likable guy, who what, plays video games, and works on his career. There are hopes still though, in the style he played with the USA team and in the work he did Pre-USA camp. Please sweety get your head out of the playstation or WII and start throwing down, working out daily here in Utah with the new teammates, and show everyone that you guys are donning Roman armor and going to take on the universe with Doctor Who. I hoped for that last year, but you seemed a little overwhelmed.
Ian Clark and JLIII - These guys have possibilities. Lucas can either show them how its done, or be the puppet master behind the young drive, either way he does it - it needs to be with all the team, not just Trey Burke. (the invite he gave Trey for the workout though, gave me hope)
Ian Clark showed that small bit inside that says "I'm going to eat you up the minute you step on my runway". He also showed a bit of bball smarts, and able to see the good contract within the money tree. Problem is, other then happening to be at the Vegas Camp, I don't know a THING about what his plans are. Hey Ian, you have a contract in Utah...so how hungry are you? I was shocked that I had actually gotten more Twitter out of BRush_04 then "Thank the Man". I would never knock anyone’s religious beliefs, but when you don't share there, you kinda don't know how to start a twitter with them.
And one last Dark Horse...and I mean Midnight.. Jeremy Evans - He has the small spark that says "I will keep playing long after you run out of battery power Mr Energizer bunny!". The HUGE problem is that you hear Nothing out of him. His bball iq gained a few notches, his tenacity did in Summer League. Evans, dont go all silent like Millsap did, otherwise everyones looking for a spark while you're hiding in your rocket ship somewhere else, then when you leave everyone will ask Wheres Waldo?. He actually has the potential to be that glue behind the scenes that keep the big men and the little roadrunners in pg/sg talking. But you can’t be silent glue, not when Jazz Nation Roars.
I realize most of this is the top secret influence of the Miller policies on media information, but at the same time when you have a team who may or may not win a lot this year, we need the popcorn while watching the show.
My Condolences to the Miller Family for losing one of their own sparks recently.
I am still begging for someone to help me find stats on fouls resulting in physical play, technical or injuries. Please tweet me if you can help …. @tamekate