The movie I’m thinking about is definitely one of the most popular sports flicks of all-time, though If you’re like me, you probably haven’t watched it more than once or twice in your entire life. Even if you haven’t seen it, I’m certain you’ve at least heard the most famous line—the line that echoes throughout the story—a line that could set the Utah Jazz on a course for bigger and better things in the future if they heed its underlying message. The line goes like this—“If you build it, he will come.”
The line is simple, somewhat vague, but strikes straight at the heart of anyone who has watched the popular baseball film, Field of Dreams. In the film, a voice repeatedly utters that phrase to Kevin Costner’s character to urge him to build a baseball field so his father, along with the old Chicago White Sox, can have a place to play baseball. At the surface level, it doesn’t seem like this quote could possibly mean anything for a Jazz team that is not even slightly concerned with the world of baseball. However, I’ve determined the repetitive message in Field of Dreams can apply to the Jazz just as well. If I was in fact interpreting this quote for the Utah Jazz today, I would say—If you can continue to build on the talent already present on your roster, eventually you will land a true superstar that can take the franchise to the top. After all, every team needs a superstar to win.
The thought first hit me while I was tuning into SportsCenter the day Dwight Howard fled Los Angeles for Houston. I suddenly realized that every team needs a superstar to win. And not only to win championships—just to make the playoffs year in and year out. You can apply that knowledge to any situation in professional sports, including the situation the Jazz are facing at this very moment. Let’s be honest—the Jazz haven’t consistently won games since the Williams and Boozer era, when they had not one, but two superstar players on their roster. Looking back at history, can you think of any teams that have come close to a championship without at least one unbelievably talented player with all-star credentials on their roster?
Every team on the list had at least one future Hall of Famer, and in many cases two or three. On the other side, the Jazz have struggled to find their identity after losing Malone, Stockton, Boozer, Williams, and more recently—Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, who left as free agents just a few months ago. That being said, being forced to move on without veterans in the here and now does give the young talent an opportunity to build something special, and hopefully down the road, acquire some better talent. I hear Lebron James becomes an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of next season. You never know. “If you build it, he will come.” Right?
Now comes the point where I might take some flak from hardcore Jazz fans. I’ve dreaded saying this, but I don’t think we have any potential league superstars on the current Jazz roster. Keep in mind this is not the fault of the Jazz front office. They do manage to attract talented players here and there, despite Salt Lake City’s utter lack of appeal in the eyes of the NBA’s elite. But if the franchise really wants to win in the long-term, management eventually needs to bring in something better. Who do the Jazz have on their current roster?
Gordon Hayward—An extremely talented player who still seems to struggle taking over as a leader.
Enes Kanter—Unproven and already dealing with injuries.
Derrick Favors—a defensive juggernaut who has yet to prove much offensively.
Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams—Nearing the tail-end of their careers and will likely contribute close to nothing this season.
Alec Burks—Has potential, but probably not superstar potential.
Trey Burke—Can he really carry a team without a legitimate superstar in the mix?
I know it might be a little early to tell what this young Jazz team can really do, but I think it’s safe to say they’re still missing a few pieces to the puzzle. The best thing the team can do next season is play well enough together to make waves. Once the waves begin, maybe the whole team in unison will hear that soft, muffled voice, “If you build it, he will come.” I’m still not exactly sure who “he” is, but I sure hope it’s someone who can be that superstar to take the team to the next level.