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The Failure of The Utah Jazz

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

"Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

- William Shakespear, Julius Caesar

Failure is ...

I've been wrestling with how to finish that sentence for the past 30 minutes. I wanted something smart, witty, and insightful that could encapsulate a Utah Jazz season that went off the rails well before an organized Jazz practices had blown its first whistle. I wanted a word that fulfilled the mixture of frustration, hope, despair, and excitement that was this Utah Jazz season.

After Monday night's loss, I sat staring at the tv screen that had returned back to its home menu after league pass was over. I stared at that screen for 30 minutes. My first thought raced back to the Clippers game in which the Utah Jazz struggled at home against an LA team that was resting all of their starters. In my thoughts I rationalized, "See? That's why the playoffs could never have happened. They couldn't even beat that."

But an equal memory of the Jazz playing the Warriors down to the wire two different times in Salt Lake City provided a fleeting glimpse of hope of what could be and what was possible. A young team playing to their potential against one of the greatest of their time. They fought hard and while it was a defeat, I was proud of them. Both times they should have won and both times exuberant youth betrayed them.

My thoughts then went to how after those Warriors games the injuries mounted. Playing the Warriors for the Utah Jazz was like climbing Everest. You get recognition for just getting to the summit and living. What you did when you were at the mountain top doesn't really matter. But like a hike to Everest it takes its toll on the body. Both times injuries mounted with Gobert, Favors, Burks, and Hayward succumbing to the tall order of what was required.

I talked to my father the next morning. He actually hadn't slept the entire night. You see, my father had drove all the way from Idaho to see the game in Utah. This actually was his first time getting to witness a Jazz game in the lower bowl. Yes, my father, Jazz fan since the very first game in Utah, had never been in the lower bowl. My father had been a Utah Stars fan before a Utah Jazz fan. He is the only person I personally know who has seen a professional basketball team from Utah win a National Championship. He meticulously mowed the Jazz logo in our front lawn in Idaho during the two Utah Jazz Finals runs. He's an Idaho State Bengal fan. He knows success and failure. Boy, does he know failure. Being an Idaho State Bengals fan is like being the friend to a drug addict. There are peaks and valleys, but usually there are just valleys and chasms. My father knows the pains of a sports fan. My father is a Chicago Bears fan. He knows failure. It's not just a result but a mantra for his sports teams. But he has always had hope.

Yet, here he was, having not slept all night. Partly because he needed a couple 5 Hour Energy Drinks to keep him awake on the drive home. If any of you thought your drive home from the stadium was painful, my father did it with a lifelong Mavericks fan, a three hour drive back home from a crushing loss.

He didn't need another bit of caffeine to enter his veins to keep him awake until the next evening. His words, "This one is up there. It's going to hurt for a while. It's just not fair."


That's the thought that keeps returning to my mind.

It's not fair that every major market team gets a sweet team friendly deal on what should be a high priced free agent in the offseason.

It's not fair that good free agents rarely see Utah as more than price leverage in their negotiations.

It's not fair that Utah finally gets a top prospect and he blows his knee on some fluke accident in qualifiers for the Oceania basketball league.

It's not fair that Rudy Gobert lost his momentum in December and progression.

It's not fair that Derrick Favors' knee betrayed him.

It's not fair that Gordon Hayward has to lead a team devoid of a point guard or an adequate bench.

It's not fair that Dennis Lindsey looked to the D-League for a bench rather than the open market.

It's not fair that Trevor Booker regressed for half the season.

It's not fair that Quin Snyder started to look mortal in clutch time.

It's not fair that fans had to watch terrible games during all the injuries.

It's not fair that our hopes were dashed, then repaired, then dashed again at the second to last game.

It's not fair that the Sacramento Kings are resting their guys against Houston when they get to rest the entire offseason.

It's not fair that Paul Millsap, Deron Williams, Al Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver, Wes Matthews, and Brandon Rush get to enjoy better postseason success without us than with us.

It's not fair that we as fans had to watch the Jazz postpone a rebuild for 4 years then expect additional patience now that they realize it should have happened.

It's not fair that Jerry Sloan has Parkinson's.

It's not fair.

This. This failure. It's not fair. Is that what failure is? No.

Portland Trail Blazers v Utah Jazz Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

Failure is earned. Failure is the universe telling you that you're on the wrong path. Whether you decided that path or whether it was forced on you doesn't matter. Failure isn't about fairness, it's just a sign that says the path that you're on sucks. The path you're on does not work. Too bad. You want fairness? It doesn't exist. If you want fairness then a game in which a guy with a flu can ruin your title chances in a 36 minutes is not for you.

If you want fairness then a game in which a guy who can make a 3 easier than he can a layup is not for you.

If you want fairness then a game in which two teams have more titles than everyone else combined is not for you.

If you want fairness then a guy who is as a tall as a center but as quick as a gazelle is not for you.

If you want fairness then a player who is the size of Karl Malone and as talented as Magic Johnson is not for you.

If you want fairness then a game in which two players can dictate the course of a game for 20 years is not for you.

If you want fairness then a game that can be decided as much on a referee's whistle as the bounce of a ball is not for you.

If you want fairness, you will not find it here.

Basketball isn't fair. This season wasn't fair. The last game of the season wasn't fair.

Failure is ... not fair. But the best part is:

Failure is not fate.

There will be some time in which the Utah Jazz hoist a trophy. They'll have that banner in the rafters. They'll get to have those rings and they'll get to have that glory.

But getting there won't be fair. It won't be fate. It'll be earned.

"Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

- William Shakespear, Julius Caesar

In the meantime, it won't be fair, it'll be earned.