Dear Jazz brass,
On behalf of Jazz fans everywhere, let me simply say thank you.
With everything that’s been happening in the professional sports world recently, from racism, drug abuse, domestic violence and everything in between, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful for the entire Utah Jazz organization. I’m proud to be a fan. Sure, there are always things that we, as fans, wish would have gone differently at times, but overall, I wouldn’t trade this organization for any other in the entire league.
So again, thank you.
For the most part, you have stayed completely out of the spotlight when it comes to scandals, drama, policies, etc. The players that come into this franchise seem to be of a higher character. Upper management doesn’t draw attention themselves by making unnecessary commentary to the media. And most importantly, rumors aren’t constantly flying about selling and/or relocating the team. As long as the Miller family is at the helm, fans can rest easy knowing that the state of Utah will always have an NBA team.
So to the Millers especially, thank you.
I don’t point the finger at athletes as a whole, because there continue to be many standup individuals out there representing their respective families, teams, sports and leagues. But the increasing number of “professional” athletes1 caught up in legal allegations is growing at an alarming rate. Dealing with these types of players issues in your organization can be a cancer. It’s a betrayal of trust and a slap in the face to the fan bases that spend so much time and money supporting them, especially when one of these athletes happens to be a star player. Both Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are leaving their teams without a franchise running back. This could be potentially crippling to an organization. Imagine, for example, if Karl Malone had trouble with the law in the mid 90’s and was forced to leave the team. Some of the best years in Jazz history would have played out completely different.
But they didn’t. And for that, I say thank you.
In the last 15 years or so, I can only think of a few minor issues with players, none of which would have drawn negative attention from the media. The Deron Williams/Jerry Sloan/subsequent Deron Williams trade scenario could have gone a lot worse. Gordan Giricek caused some locker room issues back in ‘07-’08, but he was quickly dealt for one of the most upstanding Jazz community members in Kyle Korver. A major upgrade on and off the court. And you could argue, at least according to John Stockton’s autobiography, that bringing in a player like Mark Jackson at the twilight of Stockton and Malone’s careers may have caused a premature end to two Hall of Fame careers. But again, if these are the worst 2 of the things we’ve had to deal with, I’ll count that as a victory in itself.
In contrast, thank you for all of the positive characters brought into this organization: the Stocktons, Malones and Korvers as already mentioned; the Derrick Favors, Gordon Haywards, Mehmet Okurs, Jeff Hornaceks, Earl Watsons, Matt Harprings3, Paul Millsaps, Al Jeffersons, Mark Eatons and Antoine Carrs of the world. The list could go on and on.
Yes, the fans want to win. Yes, the fans want a championship. With good reason; Utah was a one-sport state4 before RSL showed up. So in a way, this was all we had for a long time. But that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize all the wonderful things this team has brought to the community over the years. There is a lot to be thankful for.
Thank you for making this franchise something worth cheering for. Thank you for bringing in quality athletes and management to represent this team. Thank you for not having to deal with any issues, making a statement, redacting that statement, changing your mind and then looking like a fool. Thank you for creating the sense of inclusion that makes fans want to use the words “us” and “we” when describing the team.
For this and for many other things, thank you.