Trouble moving on
Disclaimer: Don’t read this if you’ve turned the page and moved on. I’m not trying to bring anyone down.
I’ve been waiting to write this post. Waiting for my emotions to settle. Waiting for the initial wave of turbulence to pass so that I can see the big picture more clearly.
It hasn’t happened.
How I felt one week ago, is exactly how I feel now. My world is upside down. I’m starting to wonder if all these years, I was merely a fan of what Coach Sloan brought to the team. The straight-shooting. The stability. The coach was in charge. The consistency. The no-nonsense. The teamwork over one-on-one. The rock that was Coach Sloan on the sidelines and Coach Johnson next to him. And all that was there because of an owner whose emotional reactions to wins, losses, milestones, retirements, effort, and Carlos Boozer’s comments mirrored my own.
It wasn’t an issue or question when all those things were the team. That’s all gone now. So it’s time to move on, right? I can’t. I’m having difficulty doing so. I look at the New Utah Jazz, and I don’t recognize anything.
It’s not the losing. I can deal with losing. Just ask 2004 Me and 2005 Me. I didn’t lose one iota of fandom during those lean years. It’s also not about sticking with the team in good times and in bad. Right now for me, it’s about how the team has evolved.
I haven’t observed firsthand what goes on in the locker room, so I can only talk about what I’ve seen on the court. I’ve been a huge Deron fan since he became a Jazzman. His first couple of years on the Jazz, I was just in awe of the things he was able to do, and respected how he wasn’t constantly attention-whoring like some other NBA players I could name.
This year, he became the sole leader of the team. And what I’ve seen is this: Deron wants the power of being the leader, but he has yet to step up this season and taken the responsibilities that go with it. I’m weary of his constant pouting on the court. Much was made of that time he hurled the ball at Hayward and chewed him out on national television for not knowing where he was supposed to be. This didn’t happen late in the season or in the Playoffs. This happened during the second game of the season. To (with?) a rookie. We have six new guys on the team trying to figure out their roles and the system. You don’t think that affected the other guys?
This was all easily overlooked when we were winning, but when the losses began piling up, Deron’s post-game comments were telling. I can count on two fingers the number of times Deron played badly and said “It’s on me.” His fingers were instead most often pointed at someone else–his teammates for not knowing the plays, the coaches for not preparing the team, injuries…Let me tell you something. When the leader of the team is acting up, no way the team is successful.
At what point do the fans stop making excuses for him? At what point do we stop attributing his shit attitude to being “competitive” or “wanting to win so badly”? At what point do we start expecting him to be the leader in good AND bad times?
Please note that I am NOT saying that Deron or their last locker room blow-up is responsible for Jerry’s decision to resign. I don’t believe that he gave management a “him or me” ultimatum, either. On the other hand, I do believe that Deron’s poor attitude was one of the things that sapped Jerry’s energy over the season.
Some would say that Karl and John for sure had arguments with Jerry and there were blowups in the good ol’ days too. True. The difference is, John and Karl didn’t talk to Jerry through the media or voice their complaints to reporters. They didn’t publicly undermine him. There was never any doubt whether the leaders of the team and the coach were on the same page. That’s the difference. So yes, I was COLing (cheering out loud) with every word that came outta Karl Malone’s mouth last week.
This is why when some are panicking right and left, up and down, and diagonally and sideways about Deron leaving/not re-signing and saying we have to support him no matter what and do whatever it takes to keep him happy, I don’t bat an eye. Look around the league. Look how well it’s turned out for teams that did that. I am a Jazz fan first. I was a Jazz fan before Deron Williams ever picked up a basketball, and I will be after he’s gone.
If you cheer during games and the game is over when it’s over, and you reacted to Jerry Sloan’s retirement announcement with perhaps a pang of sadness and an “oh well” shrug, or have gotten over it since, more power to you. I’m glad for you.
But I’m the kind of person that’s emotionally tied to my fandom. Losses stick in my craw and leave a bad taste in my mouth. That’s me. Perhaps the difference is that I wasn’t born a Jazz fan into a family/neighborhood/state of Jazz fans, but became one through watching Sloan, Stockton, and Malone wage war against opponents night in and night out. I feel like I lost a member of my family. I can’t just “get over it” and turn the page and move on. So that’s where I am.
(On a separate note, don’t call me a hater or bandwagon/fairweather fan for feeling this way, and don’t tell me I’m not a true fan for caring whether Deron had any role in Jerry’s resignation. Especially if I’ve been a Jazz fan longer than you’ve been alive.)
I’ll close by saying that I have nothing against Ty Corbin. I wish him success and I hope he does well.
Site note: Recent developments have rendered the Random Jazz Stat Box obsolete, and so I am replacing it with a Sh!t List.