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The Downbeat #1124: The Athletics Aesthetics Edition

In which national writers praise the Jazz for their name and their uniforms, a different national writer takes a shot at Trey Burke, a rapper gets his G-Time on, and more.


I can't remember how we SLC Dunk contributors decided on who would be assigned which day of the week to write the Downbeat, but I seriously lucked into taking the Wednesday spot. Because Wednesday is the day after Zach Lowe writes his weekly column at Grantland. And this week, as usual, he has a little tidbit for us Jazz fans to enjoy.

This week, Lowe graded NBA team nicknames from worst to best. And despite a track record of calling for the Jazz to return its socio-culturally incongruous name to New Orleans, Lowe gives respect where it's due:

6. Utah Jazz

You don't have to shout the history at me. We all know it. Without even getting into demographics, race, and religion, we can just say Salt Lake City has never been a hotbed of jazz music. The franchise started as the New Orleans Jazz, a seamless marriage of name and city. Ownership held on to the name upon moving to Salt Lake City, even though just about any other name would have made more sense.

It matters only a little. The Jazz is a very nearly perfect name for a basketball team. The basketball-as-jazz thing has been a bit overdone, but it still works. Both involve ensembles playing off each other in sequences that fall in the large gray area between "totally scripted" and "100 percent improvised."2 Players/musicians make reads based on feel in the moment, and they allow each member of the group to thrive at the right time. The goal is to develop deep connections between teammates, push the boundaries of creativity, and raise the collective to a higher spiritual level than any member could reach on his or her own.

There's been more talk this offseason than others about team name changes (since New Orleans has already switched to the Pelicans and Charlotte will return to the Hornets next year), and that inevitably brings up calls for Utah to select something more locally appropriate. I hope sentiments like Lowe's here put those calls to rest for good.

We are the Utah Jazz. Deal with it.

Speaking of national writer-people giving our team its aesthetic due, Paul Lukas of ESPN and the Uni Watch blog (you remember him; last week I showed you the Jazz-themed membership card he made for me) is ranking his favorite current pro sports uniforms again, and he slots Utah's kits at #4 in the league:

The Jazz have now been in Utah for 34 years (longer than you realized, right?), and they've never looked better than they do right now. Sure, the team name is a bit incongruous, but nobody complains about the Lakers' or Dodgers' names, even though there are no lakes to swim in or trolleys to dodge in L.A. So forget about the Jazz's name and just dig the excellent threads.

Thanks for the props, Paul...but can you get the ESPN web-department intern who clearly didn't give a crap to switch the logo next to our description to something more recent?


Tacky, bro. Tacky.

Another light load on the FanPost front this week -- this is absolutely the slowest period of the year for NBA talk, so I don't blame you guys -- but we do have one I'd like to feature.

Jordan.Eck18 links to an article about Derrick Favors from a few weeks ago, written by Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer. Though the piece is about Fav-O, Dwyer takes a passing shot at Trey Burke, calling him "Utah's mindful backup point guard of the future." Jordan's response:

I get that the national media doesn't really like the small market Jazz, and I'm probably a bit overly sensitive to the criticism that the Jazz have received this offseason, but nonetheless this just seemed like a cheap shot when the whole point of the article was to talk about Derrick Favors and his future potential.

I guess if nothing else, chalk Kelly Dwyer up on the list of those who will be eating their words should the F5 of the Jazz pan out the way that so many of us think they will.

If you're active on the Twitterwebs, you probably saw this pic from our man Gordon:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Shout out to <a href="">@macklemore</a> for reppin the hayward jazz jersey in the <a href="">@RollingStone</a> magazine <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) <a href="">August 20, 2013</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

That is undoubtedly a current-era Hayward jersey -- no thrift store hipster slumming there. (Well, maybe outside of Utah one could find such an item at a thrift store. Regardless, it's rare to see such things in the wild, let alone adorning one of the biggest names in popular music today.)

The Tribune reported today that the Jazz's hiring of former agent Justin Zanik as assistant general manager has become official. Dennis Lindsey's statement:

"He is a high-character individual with a strong work ethic and will be a tremendous addition to the Jazz basketball operations staff. I am very happy to welcome Justin, his wife, Gina, and their children to the Jazz family."

I hope it's a sign that, when the time comes, the Jazz won't be afraid to spend the right (read: smart but aggressive) amount of money on the players we want.

I know I'm probably crossing the proverbial streams here, but I'm a supporter of Arsenal in the British Premier League. (Those of you who understand what that entails, feel free to laugh.) Arsenal currently has a large amount of cash to spend on signing new players -- European soccer doesn't have a salary cap, so it usually comes down to how financially sound each club is, and Arsenal has prudently saved for many years. But the roster is thin now, and rival teams are passing them by. Yet they refuse to spend.

The situations aren't exactly analogous -- there's no draft in the BPL, for one thing, and no tanking, because of relegation -- but observers and fans are getting antsy for Arsenal to make a move. It's similar to how Jazz fans felt at the trade deadline last season, or the offseason prior, and it's what the team has been criticized for this offseason in agreeing to the Golden State trade instead of using the cap space available to sign free agents.

All of that is to say: I hope Zanik helps the Jazz make wise decisions about how to spend the money the team will have available next offseason and thereafter.

What effect do you think a former agent might have as a front-office executive? Is this a sign of more free-agent and trade movement from the Jazz, or simply the addition of a talented resource? Share your thoughts in the comments.