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Mehmet Okur Left His Heart In Salt Lake City: The Downbeat #1485

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We love Memo, Alec Burks loves free throws, everyone loves FanPosts, and Shums loves Adventure Time a little too much. It's your Wednesday Downbeat.

Stephen Dunn

So, how about that game last night, eh?

No, seriously, I'm asking. If a preseason game happens in Oklahoma City, and no one televises it, did it actually happen?

Broadcast-related whining aside, that was pretty cool of the Jazz, going into OKC and beating up the (admittedly short-handed and preseason-ish) Thunder. Amar gave you details in his recap. But here's one thing that stuck out to me from the box score:

41 free throws.

Dude.

FORTY ONE FREE THROWS. When was the last time the Jazz attempted 41 free throws? That's crazy pants. And I don't know all the circumstances that precipitated that amount -- maybe some were late-game as the Thunder tried to close the gap, or whatever -- but that is, by my measurements, a crap-ton of free throws.

The interesting thing is the Thunder were only whistled for five more total fouls than the Jazz (30 to 25), yet they shot only 26 free throws. (And, it must be pointed out, bricked HALF of them.)

Again, without watching the game, I can sum up this anomaly in two words: Alec Burks. For years, we've known that his best, elite NBA skill is getting to the free-throw line. On Tuesday night Burks led all Jazz players in minutes played (33), and wouldn't you know it, despite shooting only 2-9 from the floor, he hit 11-13 free throws.

This is a Super Cool Thing and I'm excited for more.

You know who else is cool? Memo. Memo is cool. On Tuesday, local media folks Aaron Falk and Brad Rock both wrote articles on Memo's "ambassador" role with the Jazz. It's pretty cool, too.

A snippet from Rock's article:

In Utah, the former Jazz center gets the royal treatment anyway. He received a stirring ovation at an exhibition a few days earlier.

"I was here seven years and I left something here," he said. "I left my heart here ... it's nice for them to say ‘Memo, nice to see you.' It's so good. It felt so good, I'm not going to lie to you."

I mean, Tony Bennett probably isn't going to write a song about Salt Lake City, but that's nice to hear, anyway.

As Falk's piece specifies, though, Memo's return to Utah is as much about his children as himself:

The children were young. They were too young to remember Okur the player, which is to say they were the same age as Okur's own children.

Really, that's why he took the job with the Jazz.

"I want to make sure [my children] come to games and practices here and there," he said. "I want to make sure they grow up on a basketball court and come watch the guys."

Falk's article also quotes Jazz president Randy Rigby as saying he wants to continue to establish a Jazz "alumni" program to connect the franchise's past to its present and future. Which is a cool idea, although possibly a difficult one in the modern NBA, with both teams and players becoming more mercenary in their contract decisions.

But minor cynical quibbles aside, I love seeing Memo around the team. It's funny -- a few months ago, during Gordon Hayward's contract negotiations (as fans debated whether he was worth a max-money deal), I remember a local sports radio host opining that Jazz fans were too fickle, and that he could only think of two or three Jazz players from the last decade who were truly "beloved" during their time in SLC. I immediately thought of Okur. But the radio host and his partner did not mention him -- not in the short space of time before the commercial break, anyway.

The reality is, though, I think Memo IS the most beloved Jazzman of the past ten years, and I don't think it's particularly close. He earned that with his personality, leadership and clutch play. And I can only hope those attributes rub off on our current players.

You may have left your heart here, Mr. Okur, but you've always had ours.

You know who else has my heart? YOUR FANPOSTS.

Here's yelrut on what it takes for a team to make "the jump":

If you've watched the Jazz so far this preseason you can't help getting excited and anxious for the real season to start. Are their performances legit or is it fools gold? I thought it might be helpful to look at past years and see which teams made huge jumps in win totals and what were the factors behind those jumps. After searching I'm still optimistic, but trying to not get my hopes up too much.

Here's stocktonjr on the ever-present, enthusiasm-dampening phrase "it's just preseason":

We've had to remind ourselves that it is 'just the preseason' so many times, that I wanted to see how big of an impact the preseason really has. Before I explain my research and dive into the results let me make one thing clear: I don't believe the Utah Jazz will make the playoffs this year. The west is simply too talented and too tough for us to make a playoff push in 2014. I also think this will play to the team's advantage to not have playoff expectations looming over their heads. They can focus on developing as individuals and as a team, and make the playoffs a goal of future years. I realized, however, that we might be closer to climbing the ladder of the Western Conference than we all thought.

And here's hansenjames with...something I won't spoil, actually. But it may or may not involve Ty Corbin's head on Grima Wormtongue's body.

(That...spoils a lot, actually. Oh well. CLICK THROUGH.)

Thanks, everyone! Your posts make me do this:

A couple of quick-hitters to finish off. Here's the Yahoo/Ball Don't Lie season preview for the Jazz, including an extended winter mountain-climbing metaphor, because Utah:

Now, it's on new coach Quin Snyder to put his player development resume to work while installing a faster-paced offense befitting a starting lineup all under age 25 and somehow extracting some defense out of a group that failed miserably in that regard last season. Strap on the boots, fellas. It's time to brave the winter again and begin the ascent anew. And there ain't no gondola lift back to the top.

Really, the piece won't tell you anything you don't already know, because you are smart, attractive people who read smart, attractive websites. But I was a bit surprised at this last bit:

Kelly Dwyer's Best Guess at a Record:

Utah will finish 24-58, fourth in the Northwest Division.

Wait, what? I mean, I'm used to national writers under-selling the Jazz's potential win total (is the Vegas over/under still 25, because seriously, you should take the over). But only fourth in Northwest? How?

Turns out old man Dwyer has the Timberwolves below the Jazz, at just 19 wins. Huh.

(It's important to note, as MyLo pointed out to us yesterday, that most of these national-media-type previews were written, or at least begun, before the preseason started, and some folks are starting to change their minds. I daresay that will be a theme of the early NBA season. I'm excited.

Case in point from the previous beat: While Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe are already wondering if they shortchanged the Jazz in their League Pass rankings, SI.com's Ben Golliver is slightly more optimistic in his similarly-themed Entertainment Value Rankings:

23. Jazz: A gaggle of under-25 players - two-deep at most positions - should appeal to viewers who fancy themselves as forecasters. Breakout candidates abound.

Eh. At this point, I'll take it.

BONUS GRATUITOUS ADVENTURE TIME GIF THAT ALSO DESCRIBES MY CURRENT MENTAL STATE: