The Downbeat #1245: The Shooting Hoops with Dunk Champion Edition

Just a reminder that this guy was TOO BIG YO! - Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

No game tonight. No game yesterday. I HATE THE UNIVERSE! So we get some other stuff for the DB.

I was just randomly muddling about the Twitterverse, looking for interesting Jazz stuff, and I found a fun tweet by one Lisa Ward, who works for the Utah Jazz. It caught my attention because she included a link to her and a few other people (Jazz employees, I'm guessing) just shooting hoops with Jeremy Evans.

Seriously question: What would you do to be able to do this? On an NBA court, with a genuine NBA player?

Of all this, my personal favorite detail is the dude who honestly looks like he's wearing a Jr. Jazz jersey from back in the day. Oh, that and Jeremy nailing a three-pointer.

Congratulations to Diante Garrett. His contract has been officially guaranteed for the rest of the year. Job uncertainty is a hard thing … this is true for us normal people, it's true for guys just trying to hang onto the fringe of the NBA. As reported by Jody Genessey in the Deseret News:

"I tried not to think about it too much. It was in the back of my mind," he admitted. "I kept looking at the clock and when 5 o’clock came, I just prayed to God. He blessed me."

Diante will probably never be an All-Star, a regular starter, or even a role player with a long NBA career. But you never know, and at the least he can always say that he made it. It's something to be celebrated, and something that I've written about before.

I hope he has many, many great experiences before it's all over.

Kurt Kragthorpe, with the Salt Lake Tribune, wrote about the success Jeff Hornacek has been having for the Phoenix Suns. Most of it is stuff we all know and have discussed a lot. But one quote really made me stop and think:

The truth is nobody knows how an assistant will do, until his opportunity comes. And Jazz fans should enjoy Hornacek’s success, rather than regret having lost him.

Kurt is right, of course. It would be healthier for me, I know, if I could just see what he's doing in Phoenix and be happy for him. Unfortunately, it's hard. I have thought Ty Corbin is a poor coach for a long time … longer than most writers here at SLC Dunk and longer than many fans, I think … and I don't know how to separate how much I like Hornacek and admire his coaching from the truth that he was on the Jazz staff and we chose to keep a crummy coach instead.

Hopefully I can learn to just be happy when a guy I like is successful.

I'm going to get us all uncomfortable here. Yesterday the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced. It was, of course, accompanied by the madness and hand-wringing that always comes along. Some of the biggest stars continue to be shut out because they are linked to steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Brian Curtis at Grantland published a terrific piece talking about the growth of steroids in MLB and why it took so long to be investigated and reported by the media. In short: nobody was talking on the record, reporters were woefully uninformed, and newspapers were terrified of libel.

Honestly, it's a mess. It stinks, because we should care. We should dislike honoring cheats. I think about some of the ballplayers Tom Verducci interviewed, those who always spoke off the record, who were frustrated that they didn't know how they could compete unless they decided to take the drugs too. And yet, those years really happened … with implicit approval by coaches, managers, and ownerships.

I worry about this stuff in other sports, though they don't get the same kind of hand-wringing that baseball does* Football players are so big and fast today that it almost doesn't resemble the sport from the 70's. We know that PEDs are involved, even if nobody's making a big deal out of it.

And I worry about basketball. Players today don't look like guys in the 50's and 60's. They just don't. How much is a natural result of conditioning and health? What's the difference between those substances that we consider acceptable and those we consider unacceptable? Do we care? Should we care? Does it matter? I don't know. In some ways I care deeply. In others … well, I have to be honest: I mostly just want to enjoy the game and cheer my team.

I worry about the effects on youth sports. We know that AAU basketball is a major, driving force in the game. It's AAU, not High School ball, that made LeBron the #1 pick. It's AAU that got Jabari and Wiggins national attention before even playing in college. It's AAU that has made the Jazz target the Warrior's 2017 pick … these kids start getting attention in early teens. Is anyone comfortable with the idea of them taking performance enhancing drugs to get an edge? Does anyone doubt that it happens? Does anyone doubt that many who don't may feel frustrated by those that do? Does anyone doubt that many take it and screw up their lives, falling up short anyway?

I have a cousin who is right now in ultra-competitive youth baseball. His father played ball in college, and my cousin's goal is to make it to the majors. Right now, he's in his early teens and easily one of the best players on his team. There's a lot of kids who look like this, of course, at this point in his life, and only a fraction will ultimately make it. But the point is that right now he's at least in the ballpark trajectory. And I worry about him. His parents worry even while they try to help him become as successful as he can become.

At what point does the hyper-competitiveness just create a black hole of crap that's just too big to accept?

*I will believe this forever: the only reason PEDs have become a big deal in MLB is because the home run record was broken so many times between 1998-2003. This is not very inspiring to me.

The last two DB points were kinda downers. So here's something fun: All of Derrick Favors's scores vs. the Bucks last week.

More than anything else, I am so excited about how confident and effective he has become on offense. He's turning himself into a pretty well-rounded scorer, and you'll see it all highlighted in the video: layups, reverse layups, P&R drives, baby hooks, and FT-line jumpers … they're all here.


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