Things hit the proverbial fan yesterday in Jazzland when the Deseret News chose to accompany Jody Genessy’s lockout story with the slightly inflammatory headline “Could bad deal mean end to Jazz in Utah?” Not since the SL Tribune trolled their readers with the famous declaration “All Hope is Lost” have there been so many raw feelings over the way a story is presented.
First of all, SLC Dunk said everything that needs to be said in response to the story: The Jazz aren’t going anywhere. Certainly the Jazz would like the NBA lockout to be resolved in a way that would allow a small market team to compete with the LAs and New Yorks of the league. But it would take much more than a bad six-year collective bargaining agreement to move the team to sell. Despite the ominous opinion from the anonymous source in Genessy’s article, the only scenario that would push the Miller family into putting the team up for sale is abysmal performance on the court leading to complete apathy in the community and catastrophic abandonment by sponsors.
It would take something similar to the Jail Blazer debacle in Portland, combined with a continued downturn of the economy, combined with reckless player signings, as well as some kind of non-basketball event that changes the way the Miller family feels about their relationship with professional basketball. The current roster is more likely to get caught helping your grandmother cross the street than for any kind of image-killing shenanigans. The economy could certainly continue to tank, but the Jazz are in a much better financial position than many teams due to their ownership of the arena and the relatively cheap purchase price when Larry H. Miller bought the team.
Greg Miller himself even chimed in with this:
Speculation of the Jazz being sold is unfortunate & irresponsible. Thanks to unprecedented fan & sponsor support the Jazz is solid as ever.
In Genessy’s defense, the most unfortunate (and possibly irresponsible) thing going on right now is the lockout, not a collection of quotes and numbers that all point to difficult choices for the Jazz if things break badly. Personally, I don’t think the Millers are even considering the possibility of selling the team, but they missed an opportunity to set the record straight when they chose not to comment while Genessy was preparing his story.
The pot has officially been stirred and it will be interesting to see how the court of public opinion rules in the next few days. My take: the Jazz aren’t for sale and the Millers are committed to fielding a competitive team, but a long lockout is far worse for the Jazz than the specifics of any deal. Nothing could be more damaging than abandonment by the fans.
[Editor's Note: It appears the Tribune has removed the "All Hope Is Lost" story, for reasons only they know. It's a Thanksgiving miracle for Ross Siler!]