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The Downbeat #2001 - Utah Jazz? Yes, the Utah Jazz! Don’t look surprised!

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Our past. The future. And that awesome thing called the present.

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the Utah Jazz downbeat, all of the news you need in one place! Today we look at our past, our future, and of course, this very brilliant present. The team is going to be good this year, so no one should be surprised when Utah makes the playoffs, and maybe even wins a round. We make fun of the Phoenix Suns, give out high-fives out to our fans, and recognize the push being made to make fans all over the world fall in love with our team! All this, and more — in today’s downbeat!

Wow. 2001. That’s a huge number. A while back one of our community members here at SLC Dunk e-mailled me to give me some ideas for Downbeats now that we’re getting into Downbeat numbers that are also the years of our modern era Utah Jazz teams. I’m not going to give out your name or e-mail address because maybe you don’t want that to be public -- but if you are reading this, I want to give you a high five.

So what happened to the Utah Jazz in the year 2001? The team was still powered by John Stockton, Bryon Russell, Karl Malone, and Greg Ostertag — now years and years after making the NBA Finals. Jerry Sloan had to deal with the retirement of Jeff Hornacek, and the team drafted high school prospect DeShawn Stevenson in the summer. Also the team had reloaded with Danny Manning, John Starks, and Donyell Marshall.

It was pretty much finals or bust as this team was filled with veterans and the window of opportunity was closing. The Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs were making huge pushes for dominance in the conference. But the Jazz weren’t ready to roll over just yet. They were amazing on offense, 10th in PPG (97.1), 3th in ORTG (107.6), 1st in FG% (.471), 3rd in 3PT% (.381), 1st in FTM and 3rd in FTA, 1st in AST, 5th in eFG% (.497), 5th in ORB% (.302), and 1st in FT/FGA (.273). They won 53 games, which is nice, but not great.

They faced the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and won the first two games: 88-86, and 109-98. Then they would lose the next three and yeah, this was the Calvin Booth series. Sure, it was Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Juwan Howard, and Michael Finley really hurting the Jazz; but most of us older Jazz fans remember Booth with the Coup de grace.

2001 is also special to me, but not because of that season. But because of this stupid YouTube video I made.

Yeah, I can’t explain it either. I don’t think I need to, because there’s a Jazz/Funk cover of “Thus Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss.

We keep hearing news and notes about ‘connectivity’. It seems like it’s not just a Jazz thing this year, perhaps it was a league message to each team -- but one that each team can take full credit for. (You know, like “We’re doing arena upgrades for better cameras” vs. “the NBA is doing game tracking for all arenas, and all teams have to upgrade their cameras, it’s mandatory.”) For example, the Phoenix Suns are doing this in addition to whatever pre-anthem pow-wow that the players can do to support / protest any topic.

I’m not sure how many high-fives they got out of last night’s game with Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert doing whatever they wanted to them when they were in the game.

The NBA continues to expand and conquer new territories. TWO (2) of our Jazzmen were involved: Dr. John Amaechi, OBE; and Gordan Giricek.

As per the NBA’s PR division’s press release:

BARCELONA – The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced the launch of the NBA European Ambassador Program, which will see former NBA players engage thousands of youth through the league’s youth development efforts on the continent.

The NBA European Ambassador Program will include former NBA players John Amaechi (UK), Gordan Giriček (Croatia), Marko Milič (Slovenia), Hanno Möttölä (Finland), Audie Norris (U.S.), Dino Rađa (Croatia), Vladimir Radmanović (Serbia), Efthimios Rentzias (Greece), Dragan Tarlać (Serbia), and Ronny Turiaf (France).

The announcement was made today at the NBA Café in Barcelona by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who was joined by NBA EMEA Senior Vice President & Managing Director Benjamin Morel, NBA EMEA Vice President, Basketball Business Operations Jesus Bueno, Amaechi, Giriček, Norris, Radmanović, Rentzias and Turiaf, prior to the Oklahoma City Thunder taking on FC Barcelona Lassa as part of NBA Global Games Europe 2016 presented by BBVA.

“We are excited and thankful to see our former players continue to contribute to the growth of basketball beyond retirement,” said Morel. “These ambassadors will teach young boys and girls values that apply on the court and in life, including teamwork, leadership and respect.”

“I am delighted to work with the NBA to grow the game of basketball,” said Amaechi. “The NBA is dedicated to creating engaging programs for young people, providing them with a deeper understanding of the game through fun, interactive experiences with the sport. I am honored to work alongside my fellow ambassadors in this exciting program.”

The NBA, NBA.com, 2016

Click that link to read the rest of the presser, it’s kind of dry, but it shows that the NBA is really pushing hard all over the world. They will be doing NBA Cares projects all over the globe, and these ambassadors will be a part of that.

The Utah Jazz have long had so much success with foreign players over the years (Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, Raja Bell, uh, Enes Kanter, Gordan Giricek, Rudy Gobert, Olden Polynice, Carlos Arroyo, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, and the immortal Francisco Elson). It was only a matter of time before our guys were part of something like this.

I’m happy that my favorite sport is being so influential all over the globe. And doubly so when it’s our Jazzmen helping spread the goodwill of the NBA.

We’re posting our Season Preview now, and it will run through the next week as well.

(Sorry, comprehensive doesn’t mean one post, ladies and gents. Comprehensive means content. Something we win at every year.) Of course, we’re not the only ones high on the Jazz. Our mothership overlords at SB Nation chimed in as well!

I know you’re already loading up PFlanns / Ziller story now. It’s worth it.

The new mantra seems to be that with hype come expectations. But this season we clearly have more than just those two qualities in Jazzland. More than anything else, this year we have enthusiasm! Check it:

Look at how packed it is! #DeathToTheEmptyGreenSeatsAtTipOff !

I’m hyped for the Jazz. You’re hyped for the Jazz. National writes are as well. It’s going to be a great season. Sure, #DB2001 didn’t have flying cars, but has a very bright future and present to enjoy.