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Time to pull a Frank Layden and take a step back

After 10 years of being with SLC Dunk, a bench role looks really nice.

I will never in my life forget where I was when Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID19. I was hiking with my wife in the foothills in Boise. The rumors of COVID being closer to home than we realized were swirling in the days prior. A large conference that I attend for work annually had just been cancelled in California and there were rumors that by the end of the month we could be working remote. My wife and I went for a hike to get away from the noise. I turned off my cell phone before the hike. When we got to the top I checked my phone just to make sure our team here at SLC Dunk had covered their assignments. That’s when the notifications started flying in that turned my iPhone into an N64 rumble pack that was on the fritz. It was then that my year and many of yours would change. It was that day that would eventually put me on a path to this day. The day I decided to move on from the position of Site Manager here at SLC Dunk.

I have posted stories to SLC Dunk longer than I have been married to my own wife. 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of my first start here. I started over at Salt City Hoops with Spencer Ryan Hall when TrueHoop was started. I even helped out from time to time with the Daily Dime Live, the which started the jargon that is now the bedrock of #NBATwitter’s language and conjugations. I went from there to Spencer Campbell’s Utah Jazz Blog then to here at SLC Dunk.

I never saw myself on the level of other “reckless boggers” who wrote here. How could I? Kris was/is a meme machine. He has gone viral for amazing memes and is the original Basketball John. During my time here I can say my virality depends on whether a Utah Jazz player Quote Tweets LMAO over my tweet. (Thanks, Favors, I still chuckle about it.) I didn’t have the journalistic prowess of TheShums. The analytical knowhow of Amar’s textbooks that were converted into 15,000 word posts. I didn’t have the passion of Diana’s fury when Sloan was fired. I couldn’t pick out when something quirky happened like Monilogue. I didn’t have the measured outlook of Clark. I certainly was nowhere close to Andy B Larsen’s meteoric rise who I assume is on track for a pulitzer after his COVID coverage.

Earnestly, I felt I had no business running this site. I feel like I’ve received more from all of you reading than I’ve given back. I have been able to cover Draft Combines and events. I have been able to interact with people far beyond my pay grade. I’ve had Jazz officials call me to tell me their sheer pleasure (actually just displeasure) in articles that I have written.

When Amar stepped down abruptly, I felt more like Ty Corbin than I did Quin Snyder. I was the unlucky sap that came into the spot during a turbulent time. I lost a lot of sleep trying to figure out how to satisfy people’s sadness and loss of Amar while trying to blaze our own unique trail. I love you guys who read us—even the ones who have disagreed with my takes. When people were frustrated with the transition, I was right there with you. I wasn’t ready to takeover that locker room. I don’t feel like I threaded the needle. That makes me sad to think about. But I do believe we blazed our own trail and created something special over these past few years.

The amazing team that we have here stepped up. Taylor took over social media and made it consistent and funny during game days. James’ passion fueled podcasts and postgame videos. Tavan, Kaleb, James, Taylor, and Jason rocked Downbeats and Power Rankings. We adjusted how the Downbeat was to make it fresh. We broke news of Donovan Mitchell’s new signature shoe. We have forged great relationships with the Utah Jazz e-sports team and the G-League Utah Stars. A few of our collaborations with BreakingT found their way into the hands of players and they wore them during the playoffs. We saw the rise of Donovan Mitchell and had the immense pleasure to cover his special rookie season and playoff run. We were able to rally behind an underdog team that made a once in a lifetime midseason turnaround. It was so much damn fun.

I loved the Utah Jazz. Still do. It was how my father and I connected after his mother passed away. It’s still how my father and I connect. The Utah Jazz have been there through thick and thin for me.

But even more than that, the people I’ve met as I’ve been a writer then a Site Manager here have become friends or respected peers. Whether that is Amar, Diana, Moni, TheShums, Clark, Andy, James, Taylor, Tavan, Jason, Jordan, Andy Bailey, Justin, Nathan, Dan, Sam, Kristine, Anthony, Kaleb, Spencer, and countless others.

This pandemic put me and this site in a position where we had to make decisions on where we stood as far as COVID, Black Lives Matter, #TeamRudy or #TeamDon, and Utah’s future. It has made us have to think more of our families. It made me think more of the balance of basketball, my jobs (plural), and my family. There has been many times that I have thought if this pandemic never happened I could have had the energy to be site manager for a year or two more.

But I don’t.

This past year made me re-center on what was important to me and my family. I started tracking COVID19 in Idaho as there was a vacuum of information there. I wanted my community to be safe. Writing about playoff basketball while getting messages and emails from families in Idaho wondering if their grandma was safe in a certain care facility or where to go because someone in their family had fallen ill put a stark contrast on what was important for me now. Never had the fact that I’m putting a lot of stock into a game where people try to put a ball into a hoop felt more inconsequential. That’s not to say that those who did during the pandemic are out of touch. I just was hit with a desire to do more for my community and my state of Idaho.

That was when I knew that it was time to move on. If I didn’t have that passion, our readers deserved someone who did. I will still be writing here weekly-ish, but I won’t be calling the shots. Nor will I be dictating the pace of play. I have been a starter for a lot of years here at this site and it’s important to recognize when you need to take a bench role, now is my #Vetzz moment. The rest of the team is sticking around and I know they are the right people to lead SLC Dunk in this new decade. They have the right mix of creativity, enthusiasm, passion, and “Reckless Bogger” that will carry this site to new heights.

I’ll let the next site manager have the pleasure of making the announcement of who they are and they have my full confidence. The entire team does.

Thanks for a dealing with me for a decade of writing. Now it’s time for me to take a step back to let the real stars of this website shine.

(Here’s to eating with freaking humans next season)

Go Utah Jazz!