The Ditziness of Hope

Being a sports fan is a funny thing. I spend every year playing "Whatif."

I start the season filled with "Whatif" optimism. I think:

What if Memo plays D the whole season like he did on Yao in the '07 Houston series -- only now he's in shape enough that he can do it without killing his offensive game?

What if Hornacek's help finally rubs off on AK-47 and he develops a good outside shot?

What if RonnieB suddenly starts throwing up 20-footers and makes enough that opponents have to pay attention?

What if D-Will is able to cut down on the turnovers just a bit?

What if CJ turns the corner and becomes a legit #2 guy who can create his own shot?

and the doozy:

What if Boozer suddenly plays like he cares on both ends, develops a Mailman-like work ethic, uses his ambidexterity and post moves and strength on both ends to become what Karl Malone could have been had he been gifted with a bit more talent?

Suddenly I've talked myself into the Jazz as championship contenders. Hell, if I lived in Milwaukee, I could talk myself into Bucks championship contenders during the preseason.

Of course, the "Whatifs" are tempered by reality -- at least by the true, non-fair-weather-fan. But sometimes realism can't push the "Whatifs" completely out of the way.

I even play the "Whatifs" during the season. What if tonight they turn the corner? What if they get a season-defining win that changes everything. What if things suddenly synergize when the injuries go away like Pink Bunnies and Energizer batteries?

Two weeks ago I declared the '09-'10 Jazz season over.

I still believe that. With Boozer they are a veteran team on the decline from its peak 2 seasons ago. With Boozer their core is the Williams-Boozer-Memo trifecta. (I'll get into what the team is and what their core is without Boozer another time.) And that trifecta isn't enough. At its best it was close--but it's not at its peak any more. Sure, they're still a playoff team--probably headed to 46-50 wins, but that's it. And sadly, the Williams-Boozer-Memo trifecta hasn't created the memories for me to still love the team even as it declines--not the way I still loved the 2000-2003 Jazz.

So why the hell am I going to watch the Spurs game tonight?

Because I love sports, I love my Jazz, and the Whatif game still plays out in my head. What if they win tonight? Nothing could become the "everything changes"-defining game like winning in San Antonio for the first time in 10 years. Even if they win, would it be that kind of win? Would everything change? Probably not. But what if? And even if they lose, what if they go on a tear with so many home games coming up? What if it's enough to get some momentum that actually stays strong even through the Christmas road trip? What if? What if? What if?

And so I still watch. And I'll continue watching and screaming at the TV when they play exactly as I expect, because I'll always be wondering ...

What if?

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