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Downbeat #2018 - Utah Jazz season overcoming obstacles early, despite losing last night

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The details matter, and the details look good on this team

NBA: Utah Jazz at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Despite dropping a game last night to the playoff bound Charlotte Hornets, there’s lots to love about this Utah Jazz team. The bigs are great. And we’re seeing more and more every week from these guys.

Office Morale has never been higher

Rudy Gobert really wants YOU to feel pumped during the day, and he’s using random interval rewards of positive reinforcement. (B.F. Skinner approves.)

First of all, don’t we all hate those times when we have to go ant talk to that HR lady? Second, more content like this, please.

Foye-nally, some good news!

It’s be clear, I have a bias towards youth. As a result of that bias, I felt like Randy Foye was getting a lot of minutes that could have been used elsewhere (to our two lotto pick wing players -- who today are still on the roster). But whatever. Randy is a great shooter and really worked hard to stay in this league. And I have nothing against him personally. As a person he’s had a lot to overcome. One thing about him that I’ll never forget is that on draft night he was asked what he wants most. And his answer was to find his parents.

This really stuck in my mind forever because of how heavy it was. But I can’t forget it because of something someone else did. Bill Simmons, then of ESPN and known as “The Sportsguy”, in his classic style found a way to make fun of Foye for being an abandoned infant child. Simmons used to write a humor column after the draft where he would do a timeline of his running commentary of what he saw on TV. And he was probably too distanced from an actual upbringing filled with challenges that he found this honest, very earnest quest to be something to make fun of. (So no link to the actual draft day piece on that. But it’s archived, and you know what draft class Foye was in, if you wanted to find it.)

Well, we have some good news about Foye and his quest, and Ian Thomsen gets to share it with the world.

Thomsen writes:

"Everything I had to endure and go through, it made me who I am today,’’ Foye says quietly from his bench in the locker room, surrounded by Brooklyn Nets teammates as they dress after a recent game. "I wouldn’t change my life. I wouldn’t change any of it. Because it made me a strong person. Made me the husband I am, the father I am. I’m extremely proud of who I have become from the circumstances that I had to go through.’’

Foye is 33, and the Nets are his seventh NBA team. When his phone rang from a government number in September, he assumed it was bad news about his recent physical exam in advance of the new season, his 11th in the NBA. "The guy who did my stress test said, 'If you get a call from someone from New York state, it means you failed your stress test,’’ says Foye. "So I thought that was what happened.’’

The voice in his phone was asking him: "Are you sitting down?’’

He had been preparing his entire life for this conversation, and still he was taken by surprise. It came out of the blue, this call from Brooklyn. The authorities believed they had located Regina Foye.

They had found his mother.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com, 2016

You need to read it all if you are looking for positive stories to inoculate yourself with.

Use your imagination

NBA: Utah Jazz at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

PhotoShop battle with this picture, please.

What makes this team different?

The Utah Jazz have four losses on the season right now.

  1. @ Portland Trail Blazers (113-104)
  2. @ Los Angeles Clippers (88-75)
  3. vs. San Antonio Spurs (100-86)
  4. @ Charlotte Hornets (104-98)

These are four losses to four likely NBA Playoffs teams. Three on the road. And really only one blowout, to a team that was rested and waiting to avenge the blowout loss they suffered in their gym to the Jazz a few nights before.

I’m not upset. The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Jazz, and there are still two more games this road trip for the team to complete. But I’m not upset if this team continues to win two games for every one they drop -- especially with the slew of injuries the club has persevered over.

And that’s my main take-way. Older Utah clubs, including John and Karl era teams, would buckle under injuries. This team has yet to lose two games in a row, and hasn’t been healthy all season long (or even, all pre-season long). This is a different team. I’m excited.

On paper this team showed a lot of depth. And we’re seeing that what’s on paper is being translated to the W/L column. When Boris Diaw and Alec Burks finally get back, joining George Hill in uniform, this is going to be a tough team to take advantage of. Utah’s been going into the fourth quarter — ON THE ROAD — with the lead this season. When everyone is back it’s going to be with an even bigger lead.

Throwback Thursday in Effect

Mark Eaton knows that even if you are an individual talent, it’s important to find a way to use your talents to make your team better.

So while Rudy pumps guys up, Mark makes them better. Both are needed on this team.