It's always going to be strange to me when the Utah Jazz lose -- especially at home -- to an expansion team. For my life as a Jazz fan my frame of reference for what is normal is a well coached team that dominated other teams due to the stellar play of their two stars: John Stockton and Karl Malone. The League has moved on from the 1980s and 1990s, but for me, somehow, I have not.
One of my first basketball magazines detailed the year that the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves joined the NBA. They were called "Mickey and Minny", not just because Disney World was in Orlando, or that the Wolves played in Minnesota -- they were expansion teams, made up of the NBA talent the established teams didn't want to protect. They were easy to handle, and put up as much of a fight on most nights as cartoon mice. The league then expanded to Canada years later, and while some of the provisions were odd (either team was not allowed to "win" the lotto for the first few seasons, and if they did, they'd get no greater than a 5th pick), what was normal were teams from both conference beating up on the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies (later the Memphis Grizzlies). Nearly a decade later a 30th team joined the league, the Charlotte Bobcats, and despite one playoff year, they continue to be regarded poorly by casual fans.
The Utah Jazz just recently lost -- at home -- to the Toronto Raptors. Gone are the days of Marcus Camby and Damon Stoudemire. The Jazz used to be 16-0 against the Grizz, and that's no longer the case anymore. We've spent a few years having trouble with the Magic, luckily Trey Burke helped us win in their house earlier this season. The Timberwolves are 2-0 against us, winning in our gym once; and well, the Bobcats -- at least they are still reliably dominated by us. But the loss against the Raptors got me thinking . . . how have the Jazz fared against these expansion teams? And is it only me being 'that guy' by thinking that home losses to this group should still be regarded with a little bit of shock?
Well, yeah . . . take a look for yourselves:
The TL:DNR version (which I present here first) is: yes; it's crazy to lose to these teams.
The longer version is that, well, yes, The Jazz for the most part have handled these teams, at home and on the road. Only the Magic are close to a 50/50 split in their gym, and three of the teams lose 3 out of ever 4 games in Utah. These periods include Kevin Garnett being at his peak while Stockton and Malone were retired; the Magic having two really good teams (the Shaquille O'Neal group and then the Dwight Howard group); the Raptors being the Raptors; the Grizz having good cores around both Pau Gasol, and then later Marc Gasol; and lastly, the Bobcats being run by Michael Jordan.
The Bobcats, the newest team, fares the worst against the Jazz. They've been around for about a decade, and we've lost to them only 5 times total. Memphis/Vancouver just can't beat us at home. (You'd think that a huge part of that would be the Grizz starting off 16-0 or whatever against the Jazz in franchise history, but in the last 5 years Memphis has lost a lot of games in the 801 area code) Toronto's latest win, on our home court, was their 5th ever win in Utah. Ever. EVER! And they have been around since back when Jordan was playing baseball. Orlando has done the best against the Jazz out of all five of these teams. No doubt getting a number of Top 3 draft picks helps there. And no matter how good they may get, I'm never ever going to take the T-Wolves seriously.
Part of that may be the fault of Midway and Mike Iuzzolino, but still, I stand by it.
It's strange to see our squad lose to an expansion team. Even if some of these teams have been around the block for decades. I'm certain that I'm not the only fan who feels this way.