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Utah Jazz Downbeat #2072 - No Obstacles, only challenges

The Jazz are in the playoffs. And it took a while to get back here.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yes Utah Jazz fans, we look at the NBA Playoffs, Jazz DNA, adversity, Eddie Murphy movies, awards, and that thing we want the most: wins.

51 wins. It’s been a very long time coming. Take it away Gordon:

It’s not just about the wins in the regular season, mind you. It’s about AFTER the regular season that matters to us Jazz fans. And has us covered:

In fact, the next few hours will be completely dedicated to the NBA Playoffs. So buckle up. This is a good team. It’s a good team that has games to play yet.

And there’s just so much to write about. (PS. The Jazz are coming for all the teams that are inside those four circles.)

Word? Rudy Gobert’s dad is in the movie “Coming to America?”

That appears to be the case, as Marc Spears examines his dad, NCAA hooper Rudy Bourgarel a little bit in this piece.

Bourgarel played at Marist College from 1985-88 and backed up former Indiana Pacers star Rik Smits. Bourgarel averaged 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds during the 1987-88 season, while Smits averaged 24.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. Even with the 7-foot Bourgarel and the 7-foot-2 Smits, the Red Foxes didn’t play in the 1988 NCAA tournament after participating in it the previous two seasons.

Unbeknownst to Bourgarel, footage from Marist’s loss to St. John’s at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden on Dec. 28, 1987, ended up being immortalized in the scene in which Prince Akeem went to his first basketball game.

“He knew about it when the movie came out, but he didn’t know that night they were shooting it,” Gobert said.

After his junior season at Marist, Bourgarel went home to France to complete his mandatory military duties. He also played professionally for Racing Club de France, Saint-Quentin Basket-Ball and ASPTT de Toulouse from 1988-94. He was a member of the French national team in 1988 that didn’t qualify for the Olympics in South Korea.

Ex-NBA player Makhtar N’Diaye, a Senegal native who grew up in France, said Bourgarel probably should have been the NBA’s first French-born player.

“He was a tough guy. Strong. A little wild,” N’Diaye, now a scout for the New York Knicks, told The Undefeated. “When you see Gobert, you can see a little bit of his dad in him. He could’ve easily been the first [French-born] NBA player. Back then, NBA teams didn’t put much value into blocking shots and rebounding. They didn’t think European guys were strong. They thought they were soft.

Marc J. Spears, The Undefeated, 2017

Read the full story over there, and watch the scene. It’s . . . it’s not really about Rudy’s dad that much. But it is fun. (He’s with the road team.) A quick trip to Google Images does show us a striking similarity to our future DPOY candidate.


This is as good time as any to list my many IMDB credits, but I don’t have an agent so I will not go forward and bore you with that.

If there’s something to be learned about how the Jazz select their players it could be that they go with guys who have character. That “Jazz DNA” is poorly defined, but getting through adversity seems to be something that shapes the players Lindsey and company covet. Even with Quin Snyder and his Duke pedigree you rarely see big name guys. Eric Fawcett went for it with his series of tweets - and the thread itself is spectacular - but I’m cherry picking a few Jazz guys:

These guys made choices that fit them. Another guy who was very overlooked was Rodney Hood, who came from one of the smallest ever towns to raise an NBA Player. Hood was a transfer player with Duke - but he started his NCAA career off at Mississippi State University. I wasn’t crazy about Hood but seeing him cry during his media availability after getting drafted warmed by cold, black heart.

Having a group of players on your team that DO have both a heart and a brain and understand responsibility is crazy. I guess the 70s and 80s of the NBA just had more wild people in it. At least the Jazz teams did. The button down world of this Jazz team is less volatile, but maybe we’ll see greater overall gains on the court? Time will tell.

Regardless of what happens, we know that Rudy Gobert is the Defensive Player of the Year. Even of some sports writers don’t vote with their brains. But what does Rudy have to say about it? ESPN’s Tim MacMahon has the scoop:

Rudy Gobert on Defensive Player of the Year: "I would love to win it. At the same time, it's not my vote. It's a media vote, and it's not really in my hands. I just hope the guy who's been the most impactful defender this year is going to win it. If it's fair, I'm going to be happy for whoever it is. "You have to study a lot of things. There's a lot of factors. I think guys like Draymond Green have had a tremendous season. I see a lot of guys like [Andre] Roberson who have had a fantastic defensive season, Patrick Beverley, Kawhi [Leonard], one of the best two-way players in the game. We all do it differently but impact the game defensively in a great way for our team. I mean, I think I should definitely be in the conversation. I don't want to be the guy that says, ‘You should definitely vote for me.' I want the people to check out the impact, check out the stats and make their own choice. I don't want to be the one that's going to make my own campaign. I want the people to make their own choice but make sure they study the case. Just check all the stats you need to check. Just don't vote because you feel like somebody is going to read or somebody is going to look. I think that would be not the smartest thing to do. Check the stats, check the impact and make your vote. If it's fair, it's fair. You've got to respect everybody's view." Gobert leads the NBA in blocked shots, defensive real-plus minus and defensive win shares for a Utah team that allows the fewest points and ranks third in defensive rating.

Tim MacMahon, ESPN, 2017

He’s a defender and a diplomat. But he’s not just a one-way player either:

This has been a monumentally impressive season to watch. We’re so lucky to have Gobert. He’s such a beast.

51 wins. Division title. NBA Playoffs. These are all things Jazz fans from the Tyrone Corbin era would count as signs of a great season. I’m from a different era. A less PC era. A less “making the playoffs is our championship” era. I’m from an era where “winning a championship” was a possibility. And that’s still the goal for me. I want a ring for SLC. The closest us Jazz fans got was 12 NBA Finals games, two decades ago.

I wasn’t there for the Jazz celebration of that team. Neither was Karl Malone, so I guess that makes it okay. But Moni has the halftime video up if you didn’t catch it the first time around:

As for this year’s squad . . . there’s one quick way for them to leap-frog a lot of historically great Jazz teams.