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Thoughts on the Raja Bell Situation

July 11, 2012
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I’ve been meaning to write a post about Bell v. Corbin for some time, but I never got my thoughts together. @YuccaManHoops sent out the following tweets yesterday. These tweets pretty much spell out and sum up my own thoughts on this matter (read from the bottom).

Just to add on to what Yucca Man said:

1) I personally agree with Yucca Man that Raja’s confrontation with Ty wasn’t over his own playing time or role, but rather issues concerning the team. I actually wrote about that back in March.

2) Raja’s personality was part of why the Jazz signed him the second time around. They didn’t sign him to be a quiet Yes Man. Yet when he voiced issues or perhaps simply questioned whether things could be done in a different way, he was dead to Ty. Afterwards, he met with Ty and KOC and everyone came out of the meeting saying they were going to move forward and put the past behind them. However, that didn’t happen. Raja was treated like a disobedient child: “Go to your room” + silent treatment. For a player to not even know if they’re active on game day, and to have to find out from the media, damn straight it was personal. And unprofessional.

3) Absolutely agree with Yucca Man about how the kids noticed. You can’t tell me that they saw how Ty was dealing with Raja, and that it didn’t affect them and how they approached their jobs and relationship with their coach.

4) Raja wasn’t the only one that had issues with Ty’s communication skills. I know that certain members of the media were going around during locker room cleanout asking players about this issue after Raja gave his interview, but CJ and Devin weren’t venting or even critical in their comments. They were simply stating their opinions based on their own experiences with Ty. Coincidentally (I’m not connecting any dots here), Raja’s been bought out, Devin’s been traded, and CJ is in all likelihood gone.

5) Matt Harpring on May 18 on KFAN (it was still KFAN then, right?):

Venting to the media is never a good thing and Raja should know that. If you have a problem, you do it inside the doors with the people that need to be informed of your problem. You let it out to the media, it makes yourself look bad. And there’s 29 other teams that read the newspapers. The Internet’s a very big thing. They read those statements, and it could be the Atlanta Hawks owner could be reading that right now and being like, “Wow, I don’t want Raja Bell on my team. He’s a cancer.” So I think situations like that when you throw coaches under the bus or you throw players under the bus, you end up just hurting yourself.

So let’s say that what Harpring says is true (although Raja has already been linked to several teams). The flip side of that is, players/free agents could look at how things unfolded in Utah, which is regarded as a not-hot free agent destination to begin with, and be even less inclined to consider the Jazz. Raja has been around the league; he’s played a long time with a lot of players and was a player rep at union talks during the lockout. His experience with Ty and how Ty acted are more likely to influence how other players perceive the Jazz during free agency than the organization’s speeches about stability, great place to raise a family, etc.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Kyle permalink
    July 11, 2012 10:18 pm

    You have to admit, there’s almost 0% chance that Wesley Matthews would have gotten that playing time had Ty been the coach.

    I really want to believe in Ty, but you’re right, there’s a lot of things he does that are detrimental to the team. I think losing Raja will hurt the team, even if it’s only in the cheerleading department. Remember the double thumbs up? The wind-up-toy wobble, “oh mah lands” head rub after the Evans dunk? http://i44.tinypic.com/2my3uqf.gif

    I’m definitely going to miss him.

    As an aside, what was the deal with Locke pooping his pants in “AMAZEMENT” over Miles’s statement at locker clean out? Maybe it was all body language, or something, but Miles didn’t seem to say anything startling.

  2. modernagejazz permalink
    July 11, 2012 11:03 pm

    I agree at points. The story Yucca paints is coherent, but you know how brains are when incomplete information is available. They make up the best possible coherent story and accept it as reality. I barely know Yucca, but his story certainly fits with what he defends as being good basketball and how we lost that when Sloan left and Ty took over, letting Al do his thing and the Jazz becoming less of a passing team.

    I don’t mean this as any sort of attack on him, all I want to say is overconfidence with tremendously incomplete information is a part of being human (bold statement, the reference is Economy Nobel Prize winner’s D. Kahneman book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’). And we’re always in a position to fall for that, especially when someone takes over for our beloved coach, our star is traded away, our beautiful ball moving offense is gone and our best prospects of becoming future stars aren’t playing all that much.

    The thought of this story being accurate scares me to death and there are certainly signs pointing that way. Nonetheless, I’m and advocate for cautiousness here, we don’t know enough of what happened and without Larry and Jerry the doom cenarios become too tempting regardless of how few real evidence we have of them (especially so given the Jazz’s reputation of hiding things).

    To sum up, I agree with 1, 2, 3, 4 (without dot connection) and 5. 5 is actually the one thing that is undisputable: when clashes go to the media, everyone looks bad. And even if Raja hadn’t spoke out to the media, the fact that he’d been handled unfairly would be known to other players, especially if it was true and our other guys could confirm it around the league.

    • July 13, 2012 2:54 pm

      You are absolutely correct that we don’t really know. None of us were there when Raja blew up and got suspended. None of us have any knowledge except the little scraps here and there that came from official statements.

      Mostly, I presented this as an alternate look.

      Despite the limited information, an unofficially official version of Raja Bell’s suspension emerged among a lot of fans. He was selfish, griping about playing time, and spreading around general discontent like a cancer. And what a prick to whine about playing time when he has been such a disappointment as a player anyway. Although the Jazz never made any statements to present this version, they did kind of let it settle in fans’ minds and grow until it is accepted by many as Truth.

      But the real truth is it’s based on conjecture just as much as what I believe.

      I suppose that, in the end, I am troubled by how quickly Jazz fans can turn on a player. By how quickly and easily a lot of fans revise a player’s entire history and public personality to turn a former saint into a demon to loathe, despise, and spit upon.

      I like Raja Bell. I have always liked him. I like his toughness and his willingness to be a vocal leader. I like that he knows that he’s a secondary player but still doesn’t back down from challenges. I love the support and friendship he gave to our young players. Only Earl Watson had a comparable relationship with them. I remember early in Gordon’s rookie year, the genuine praise Raja gave when he did well. Gordon Hayward desperately needed that then. We know that Al Jefferson did a lot to help the big guys in practice. And that’s commendable. But it was Raja and Earl who really built relationships with the kids … spending time with them away from the court, showing them around the different cities while on the road.

      And it was Raja who was willing to be vocal about the team’s poor play. “We consistently do dumb shit” was an appropriate theme last year … at least until April.

      And so I recoil and get frustrated with the “Bad Raja” vibe and narrative that has taken over. It doesn’t match the guy I believed Raja Bell to be. It doesn’t match the guy who came here expecting to play off the bench. It doesn’t match the guy who loved Jerry Sloan.

      And so I present my alternate narrative. Are there aspects that are likely wrong? Of course. I don’t know all the facts, and I wasn’t there. But so what? The dominant narrative is built on just as much ignorance.

      And really, I want everyone to know that the official story isn’t the only one that can be built. It isn’t the only one that is valid. We don’t have to turn on our players and construct narratives to make them demons.

      Plus, I will argue that my narrative fits what we know about Raja Bell slightly better.

      • modernagejazz permalink
        July 14, 2012 12:34 am

        I didn’t know there was a dominant version that painted Raja as a villain. As I previously stated, the Raja part of your story is totally compelling to me and certainly has more facts going for it that the villain alternative. Raja sounded perfectly reasonable for the most part of what he said and he made previous statements that questioned Ty’s MO much earlier than the Philly clash.

        But I never heard him specify WHY he felt that way. That’s why I made my comment. Because you extrapolated the Raja situation to the kids and presumed the whole problem was that they wanted things to be like you wanted things to be on the floor and Ty was being a bad coach overall. What I meant we don’t know is whether Ty perhaps had some good reason to make his rotations as he has.

        Strictly on Raja matters, I’m with you. The alternative story is just another example of “what you see is all there is” effect, given that they ignore a lot of things we do and don’t know about Raja and the situation and make up a story around what’s most prominent in their minds.

        All indications point towards Ty having messed the Raja thing up badly and the second scariest thing to me as a Jazz fan is Ty’s coaching (the scariest being the motor for improvement of Favors, Kanter, Gordon and Burks. They have some, do they have enough to put them over the top?).

        I understand it’s your right (and perhaps duty) as a blogger to contest nonsense stuff such as the Raja villain story, and I’m thankful for the job you guys do. :) That comment was just some food for thought.

        • July 14, 2012 12:51 am

          Yes, that part linking Raja to the kids is filled with conjecture.

          It’s based on the question: “Why the suspension and grudge?” After all, we all know Ty seemed to love Raja prior to it.

          Knowing that Raja had a particularly close relationship with the kids, and seeing just a few little hints of their frustration here and there, that’s why I made the huge logical leap I did.

          There’s tons of missing information there, though. We’ll never really know.

    • July 13, 2012 2:57 pm

      And by the way …

      I want you to know how much I appreciate your willingness to question my points of view. I adamantly believe in my opinions. But that doesn’t mean mine is the only perspective, nor does it mean it is most correct.

      And sometimes I even change my mind (this probably shocks some).

      So thanks for always being so willing to question and challenge. Discussion, learning, and thinking do not come from a collection of Yes-men.

  3. SurlyMae permalink
    July 12, 2012 12:50 am

    Love this. Thanks Moni & Yucca.

  4. July 12, 2012 8:19 am

    @Kyle: You’re right, Wesley Matthews wouldn’t have seen the light of day. And Raja was the star of some of the best gifs ever! As for Locke, I respect how hard he works but he it is very clear that he is on the Jazz’s payroll.

    @modernagejazz: Good points, as always. Also, you’re about a million times more well-read than me.

    @SurlyMae: :)

  5. jenlbabs permalink
    July 14, 2012 11:18 am

    I still respect Raja and was very happy to read this post! Thanks all!

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