Right now we’re on the eve of NBA Free Agency. The Utah Jazz have a number of important free agents to manage, one talked about much more than the others: Gordon Hayward. Hayward is a big deal, and teams from far and wide (just the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, teams that you can visit to by boat if you wanted to, no need for a plane) are lining up to meet with him. Tomorrow is the start of Free Agency, it’s also Canada Day and shortly after the day of American Independence. So keeping in mind with how historic this time of the year is let’s look at Gordon Hayward - truly a man worthy of every history books. And let’s look at him, and recognize that from his perspective he needs to leave the Utah Jazz. And he should.
Utah plays at a slow pace. In Utah there’s a lot of screening, passing, and running. It’s not Iso-ball where inefficient offenses can play at a high pace and everyone gets more stats. Stats, boxscore stats mind you, are what casual fans love. And the bigger the numbers the better. Bigger is always better, especially for voting for All-Star teams or future contracts. The more visible you are also helps. Running up and down the court dunking is better than chest passes and dribble hand-offs.
Utah is also in a small market. There are no palm trees there. There’s no arena filled with championship banners. And if there’s one thing that’s more important than big stats it’s big markets. Be a part of a franchise that matters, one that has rings already and is already on TV all the time regardless. Look at how many fans there are online talking about a team. That’s what basketball is all about, after all.
The Jazz also play in the Western Conference. The Houston Rockets are loading up, the San Antonio Spurs remain excellent, and it’s still a losing arms race against the Golden State Warriors. You’re never, ever, ever, ever, going to go to the NBA Finals in the West my dear Gordon Hayward, unless you fight through those obstacles. It’s just so much easier to advance in the East Playoffs. Heck, the Boston Celtics did it thanks to a Rajon Rondo injury! Other teams have established stars already. You and I both know that you want to be Pippen in an era where players grew up trying to be Jordan. Maybe that’s not the best analogy. In Boston you can be the Mark Aguirre to Isaiah Thomas’, well, Isiah Thomas. Why fight for a top seed out West while you can coast to one in the East. Boston was the #1 seed last year, even without you. They went to the Conference finals last year, even without you. If you sign on with them it’s clear that you - even if it’s just to yourself - are signaling that you’re not the leader people propped you up to be. You want to follow. So follow then.
So go. Please go. Followard.
It’s not just about being a follower though. That’s not what your legacy is about. You have to think about stuff beyond basketball. You have a family and as we all know, Utah is the WORST for family stuff. South Beach? Super drunken racist New England? This is a no brainer. In fact, don’t even use your brain. Other people who do not decide that raising your kids in Florida is the right thing to do.
I can also imagine that being in Utah is tough because it’s so far from the rest of your family. It’s . . . one domestic flight away. Just like if you lived in Boston. Miami is pretty much the same distance away as Salt Lake (1.2k miles vs 1.5k miles). Furthermore, I can imagine that being in Utah is a drain on the career of your spouse. This is a strain for most families - do you sublimate your career for hers, or her for yours? It’s a serious thing to ponder about.
But you need to take care of your family (ever see Boston’s crime rate?), protect them from drugs (South Beach is . . . well . . . ), and make sure your wife is happy in her career. You need to be close to your folks. And it’s important that where you live for your work is not too far from where you actually are putting down roots . . . which is . . . on a fancy Golf Course with a huge tennis court that you can play on all year long . . . in California. Wait, isn’t Utah on the same side of the Rocky Mountains as your dream home? Boston and Miami aren’t.
Oh well, you probably factored all of this in already. Like I said, don’t even bother using your brain. This is a no brainer.
Please go. You must leave Utah. Brainward.
Last, if the Utah Jazz couldn’t convince you by now then there’s nothing more they can do. The team, the team that kept the pick that would later on become you, protected it and waited out the horrible New York Knicks to have a chance to call you their own. The Jazz waited years and years for the pick that they would get - and use - to get you. Utah wanted you. They scouted you, and knew that you would be the player they needed. And the pulled the trigger and selected you while there were over two-hundred other players they could have picked.
You played for them, even got the nod as a rookie from Jerry Sloan to finish games ahead of other forwards who had played in the Western Conference Finals. After your rookie year you never looked back, as the Jazz gave you the on-court experience needed for you to hone your game. You played 2k minutes every season - thousands and thousands more than the rest of your lotto pick rebuild Jazz cohort of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks. The Jazz wanted you. And wanted you to succeed. And they went out of their way to give you that opportunity.
The sales and marketing departments established you a star even before you became a first option for the team on the court. The in-house media lauded everything you did. Even today they talk about your legacy and how you can be the best wing player in franchise history - one that includes off the top of my head: Pete Maravich (HOF), Adrian Dantley (HOF), Jeff Hornacek (AllStar), Andrei Kirilenko (AllStar), Darrell Griffith (ROY), etc. To the people who have the most access to writing your professional history - you are better than all of those players.
And you haven’t even won a single second round game yet!
The Jazz made this team for you. On it you play with the actual best something something in franchise history (Rudy Gobert at center) who is a DPOY candidate and All-NBA / All-Defense guy. The team is surrounded with shooting. And in order to make YOU feel happy they traded a lotto pick for another guy from Indiana, someone who may have just been a 49 out of 82 game season rental!
The coach loves you. The front office does as well. You were the #1 priority for the last TWO Seasons for the team, not winning and not development. But YOU. The team won 50+ games, and a playoff round, while championing you. Loving you. Promoting you. Helping you shine. Helping you ascend to the stars.
And no doubt you know a little about Utah, the team, the players, the people you see and work with every day at the Arena or the practice facility . . . and the state itself. You know what Utah is, has to offer, and can be with you here.
And if they haven’t convinced you yet that this is the place to be then you must, absolutely, go.
Grow, and go forward. Groward.
Utah will be fine. The foundation set by LHM, and the philosophies set by Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan will remain. And players who want to be in Utah will be in Utah and play there, under the shadows of the greatest mountains in the land, and under the watchful gaze of the immortal John Stockton and Karl Malone.
This isn’t the right place for you Gordon. You should go and leave and never come back. We’re not going to boo you if you do. You can #TakeFNNote of that.