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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Fellow Jazz Homers"

After the big win against the Spurs, MoneyMan Memo (one of our favorite readers) lit a fire within each of us here at My Utah Jazz. His comment under the Bring on the Hornets post was both motivating and inspirational. We said that if the Jazz won in New Orleans, he would be asked to put his thoughts as a Jazz fan into one powerful speech.

That time has come my friends for that speech. This will hopefully be the first in a series of speeches written by Jazz fans...for Jazz fans. If you would like to put your Jazz thoughts and inspirations into words and have them posted on our site, email us your speech to and together we will let all the world know that
"This time, is our time".

MoneyMan Memo, you have the podium.

Fellow Jazz homers, about a week ago, my feelings about the Utah Jazz changed.

For years, I had supported the Jazz in a way that perhaps some of you can relate to. I felt like I knew what to expect from the team, which is to say that there was a list of team weaknesses that could befall the Jazz on any given night.

You see, usually I prepare for Jazz games with a mentality that is cautiously (or delusionally, sometimes) optimistic. I hope (but am rarely convinced, truth be told) that they will win, and in the end my only hope is that they compete hard. I see this in the rhetoric on various Jazz blogs....there usually is no post the day of an important game, and if there is, the language typically begins with, "The Jazz better...let's hope the Jazz...hopefully the Jazz won't...." In the last 4 years or so, I think we all pretty much came to expect a certain identity from the team - inconsistency depending upon the caliber of their opponent, inability to win back-to-backs, inability to come back from large deficits due to no quality 3-point shooters, lackadaisacal attitude for road games, penchant for letting opposing 2-guards have huge scoring games, and soft interior defense. I could go on, but this is supposed to be a motivational speech.

Well folks, last week this changed for me. In its place is a new feeling, something that I have never experienced in such pure form about the Jazz.

This feeling was planted on Nov. 3, when they showed their enormous potential as an offensive powerhouse by exploding for 133 points against the Warriors - in total contrast to Sloan's teams of years past. It was also the first game that I realized Ronnie Brewer was going to be a consistent asset as a defender, off-the-ball scorer, and long-limbed athletic wing we had been missing for years.

It began to blossom in the month of November when it became apparent that AK had come around mentally and was going to contribute. It sure helped to hear that Horny was working with him on his jumper again.

It grew some more on Nov. 30, when they beat a Laker team at full strength on national TV with huge contributions from AK, Fesenko, and Milsap in the absence of Boozer and Okur. This performance was critical to the Jazz being able to trust the bench players to run the system in the absence of the starters.

I'm not going to lie - the feeling turned black and nearly died during most of December. To revive it, I kept repeating the old adage that "the only place to go from rock bottom is up", and thank goodness rock bottom occurred in December.

The feeling was resuscitated on Dec 29, 2007, when the Jazz filled a major void in their weaponry by acquiring a deadly 3-point shooter in Kyle Korver. Side note: for the last few years when I used the Jazz in video games (NBA Live, NBA 2k series), I always traded Giricek for Korver and dominated. It's about time KOC and the Jazz front office figured it out.

It shot up on Jan. 25, when Jason Hart went down with a back injury and opened the door for Ronnie Price (took you long enough, Sloan!) to emerge as a competent backup to Deron and play better than any backup PG the Jazz have had for the last 5 years.

It swelled at the end of January when they went on a crucial 10-game win streak to save the season and demonstrate that they could be consistent. That streak included an amazing home win against the Spurs to get the monkey from last year's playoffs off their backs.

It grew by leaps and bounds on Feb. 27 when they rallied from 15 down against the Pistons to win by holding the Pistons for 12 minutes without a field goal - the intestinal fortitude they displayed to do that against that particular team under those circumstances (when they had just lost in Minnesota the night before, ho-hum) showed me resiliency I had never seen before.

It was renewed and refreshed on March 8 when the Jazz avenged the loss against Denver earlier in the season (Linas Kleiza, meet the porous Utah defense) by walloping the Thuggets for 132 points.

It grew in February and March when D-will got pissed about not making the All-star team and Boler's constant props for Boozer's double-doubles, so he went out and starting dropping double-double's like it was nobody's business. Hell yeah.

It grew on March 31 when C.J. Miles set a career high against the Wizards and proved that he could be a game-changer and spark off the bench when needed.

It expanded further in March when Sloan admitted to letting Deron make most of the play-calls during the game, thereby showing his change as a coach and the confidence he had in the Jazz floor general.

And it began to grow feverishly about a week ago, after the Jazz absolutely destroyed the Spurs in a critical game for both teams jostling for playoff position.

This feeling, growing in intensity and breadth with each passing day of the season, is something I believe the Jazz are experiencing just as I am. It's a feeling that I'm sure the Spurs have felt many times this past decade as they go into the playoffs. This feeling that I speak of, this feeling that I watch Jazz games with these days…

…this feeling is called confidence.

Yesterday before the Hornets game, I don’t know about you guys, but I honestly had no doubt that they would win handily. This Jazz team is special, and it is manifested in 3 characteristics that have come to make up the team identity:

- Consistent
- Battle-Hardened
- Hungry

History has shown that championship teams have these 3 characteristics, in addition to the following

- Can rely upon the entire supporting cast to contribute in times of need (Price, Harpring, Korver, Miles, Milsap)
- Have experienced adversity during the regular season and know how to respond (see close wins against the Bucks, Knicks, and, yes, losses to the Knicks, Clippers, Bobcats, Timberwolves, Timberwolves, and Timberwolves..sigh)
- Can adapt defensively and offensively to different styles (see wins against the Warriors, Pistons, Suns, Spurs, Celtics, etc..)
- Know how to exploit mismatches (ahem, Deron embarrassing CP3)
- Know how to win on their home court
- Peak at the end of the season and ride that upward mobility to success in the playoffs

If these signs from previous championship teams carry any weight at all, then the next couple of months bode well for the Jazz. Gentlemen, I hope that you share in my confidence that the Jazz will not only make it to the NBA Finals, but win their first championship this year.

C.B. Jack spoke about making sacrifices in a comment a few days ago. Well, I have never been in the state of Utah and have only been able to attend Jazz games in other cities (mostly Oakland, once in San Antonio) over the years. I would be willing to do whatever it takes to watch and support the Jazz should they make it to the Finals. If that means flying to whatever Eastern Conference team's arena it is (either Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, I would guess), then so be it. But the ultimate experience would be to be in the Delta/ESA Center...although I don't even know if tickets could be bought. I would give my savings account (meager as it is), my credit card limit(s), and my right nut to be present and help support our boys as they bring home the title.

Fellow Jazz homers - are you with me?
-MoneyMan Memo

Editors Note: We are with you MoneyMan. Don't you ever forget it.


moni said...

yes yes yes yes YES

i also concur with the last paragraph. i've been a jazz fan for 16 years and i've never been to utah. only been to 2 games in my entire life (one in new york, the other in d.c.) but what i wouldn't do to experience this year's plaoffs at ESA...

Boozers Hammy said...

Amen, my brother, amen. The whole time I was reading that post I kept getting more and more jacked up for the playoffs. Awesome!

moneyman memo said...

"I feel like we're a championship team. I really do," Williams said. "I feel we're the best team in the league. Maybe our record doesn't show it, but I think we can beat anybody if we're playing the right way."

That's the spirit, Deron. Sounds like somebody's been taking the same medicine that we have, eh?

Have you guys seen the new "There can be only one" NBA commercials for the playoffs that splice 2 faces together? Supposedly there will be ones for 16 teams. Who do you think it will be from the Jazz, and who will they pair him up with? A good one would be Kidd and Deron.

C.B. Jack said...

They creep me out. But how about Mem and Elvis? or Boozer and a full size grizzly bear?

Speaking of many and beast. Can we please get Fox to bring back Man versus Beast?

One of the best shows of all time...right Booner?

Remember that giraffe working the sprinter in the 100 yard dash?

Ron Boone said...

"The most important thing for the Giraffe, is to realize he is in a race."

Ron Boone said...

Moneyman, you are awesome. A single tear just rolled down my check. I actually started a slow clap in my office but someone walked by and shut the door.....must have been a Hornets fan.
I love the confidence and I must say, as those who have watched games with me, no I can be as negative as they get. However, I am going to be positive here on out. (Can that be my sacrafice?) I love D-Will's attitude and that along with the craze brought about by all of us Jazz fans.
Moneyman, you can save money on a hotel when you meet us here for a game anyone of us here would open our doors to long as we can run your criminal records, social etc. WE WILL ALL GO TO A GAME IN THE ESA DURING THE FINALS. One of us is bound to have a connection. How cool would that be to have everyone of us show up. (We will need to pack food in though, because after we spend $2K on tix, it will be difficult to afford that $9 Hot Dog. (However, I noticed if you buy playoff tix you get 44 Hot Dogs 33 Soda's and a Foam #1 Hand to next years game against the Sonics!! Not to mention lifetime tix to the Salt Lake Bees.)
Let's do this Jazz!

Anonymous said...

Oh no, the Mavs game just ruined it...we aren't going to win in the first round. - MoneyMan Memo, I have work, no more Jazz for me.

Mark said...

Well said. Very well said. It ALL comes down to confidence and where does that come from from? It's a mental thing pure and simple. Thanks MoneyMan for putting into words what I think we all feel.