Thursday, February 26, 2009

ESPN, and the fans who love to hate them

Okay, let's get something straight right off the bat -- ESPN (the self-proclaimed world wide leader in sports) doesn't like small market teams, and fans of those teams don't like ESPN. Why? Well, you're more likely to hear a story about Kobe, LeBron, the Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys twice before you even hear them mention the final score of the game your favorite team played last night in. There's really more money to make by appeasing the larger markets than they would get by (and I'm dating myself here), talking about an exciting 11 inning game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Montreal Expos. No one cares about that, we need to hear about the color and abnormal nitrogen content of Jeter's piss.

click here to go to

Thankfully, we have the Internet -- and no longer need big sports shows to tell us who won or who lost. Unfortunately, the liberation we (the multitude of fans who love teams that the big networks hate) should feel fails to exist in reality. As big as the Internet is, it's not immune to corporate domination. Take me for example, I've sworn off watching Sportcenter because of their decision (which is a logical financial move on their part) to shun giving major coverage to obscure, esoteric teams. I don't need to watch them spin a Jazz win into the other team losing the game, and then make excuse for that team --  okay, so the Lakers were tired, but the Jazz were playing without Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Brevin Knight -- obvious advantage to the Jazz there! Yet, my browser homepage (over the course of over a decade, and several computers) continues to be the NBA homepage.

Why do I even go there? It's more a self preservation based strategy really, as is a lot more user friendly than the labyrinthine navigation needed in order to actually get what you want out of the Official NBA Website. With a few clicks I can view, sort and analyze all the data from last nights games, or the last 5 years worth. The fact is that while they do a poor job of sharing the spotlight on the air, could be really great for the fans of all teams. Yet, they do an equally poor job over "the Internets".

Their website is a storehouse of just the information any fan needs in order to construct their own opinions, less the media biases that we all accuse them of having. [Just look at the comments section of any article that says something . . . ESPN then becomes a pro-Lakers, anti-Lakers, pro-Kobe, anti-Kobe, pro-LeBron, anti-LeBron, pro-Celtics, anti-whatever propaganda machine -- according to us, the unwashed masses of sports fans.] Aside from any perceived real (or imagined) biases fans see, some of their "experts" aren't "expert" enough. But that's not even the worst part of's Internet presence.

The worst part is that we fans -- who love ESPN or hate them -- flock to their webpage like sheep, and build their reporting and analysis up so much (in our own minds, perceiving that their statements carry a greater weight of authority over other statements over the 'net) as the antecedent to getting upset about those very same reports and analysis. In effect, we champion them with one action, only to vilify them with another. No one would care if someone with no more a sports authority than you said something bad (or even worse, didn't say anything at all!) about your team. Our threat assessment alarm only goes off when it comes from people who 'are paid to know their stuff'.

I don't get upset if Charlie Rosen writes something inherently flawed. I don't go into "monkey crapping into his hand, only so he has something to throw" mode when someone at work thinks differently about the Lions draft strategy than I do. Thus, logically, I should not care about what is posted at . . . nor should anyone. Yet, hundreds of people everyday go into monkey poop mode (albeit with their keyboards, not their actual poop) on any opinion piece they put up. Sports fans, as passionate, emotional people with feverent loyalty, cannot really be asked to be sterile robots -- especially not when 'those d-bags over at ESPN are totally hatin' on ______ (your favorite team here), ______ (author of article uploaded onto is such a d-bag!!!'

Let's just look at one of the most hotly contested regular features: Marc Stein's Weekly NBA Power Rankings. Back in the day when Stein only used to write the occasional opinion piece on the website I did not go crazy. He appeared to favor some teams over others and while I did not agree with all of his opinions, he did bring something to the table as a sports writer. That was then. Today he is like a God, and his weekly pronouncements cause reverence and hysteria amongst all his believers.

[EPIC TANGENT ALERT!!!] Can you imagine if this was actually the case -- if God had His own Power Rankings each week? The posts we'd see on message boards would be insane:

  • Christians knock off Jews as God's people this week! Numbah 1 babeey!!11! [Xx_LaMb_Of_GoD_xX]
    • Moses is injured, we're not worried [FeartheZohan]
      • Whatev, Jesus was nailed to a cross, k thnx bai [CanIhasSalvationplz?]
  • Wicca beats Voodoo, Rasta an Shinto on road, and goes down 2 spots? Hata!!! [WynndrWymyn]
    • Wiccans underrated! [Magic Circle Sister]
      • Wicca hasn't even made the playoffs since the dark ages, ur aal dumb [Stan666]
    • Ay, whaut be dis ting ye sayin, bway? Wicca bee lucky dis week, 'seen? [RudeBoy420]
  • ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz [Cth007h00]
    • My head asplode [EmilyG]
  • Atheism always last each week? WTF? [NoGod1999]
    • Hey, why doesn't anyone respond? [NoGod1999]
      • Hello? [NoGod1999]
        • Anyone? [NoGod1999]
          • .....god? [NoGod1999]
  • God's rankings sux! Stupid Middle East Coast Bias, boo! [Dr.Zeus]
    • Dharmic faiths more fulfilling than Abrahamic? [LittleBuddah5]
      • In this life, or the next? [I_am_Ganesh!!!]
    • +1 [Quetzoquatl4MVP]
    • +1 [Quetzoquatl4MVP]
      • Stopid servers, sry for dbl post [Quetzoquatl4MVP]
    • +1 [Quetzoquatl4MVP]
      • lolz, u mean trippple post [ODiN>>>L0Ki]
        • heh heh heh [Quetzoquatl4MVP]
    • whatever, it's all rigged [Xenuluvr88]
      • Shuttup elroy [72Virgins4me]
        • Fine, believe what you believe, let me believe what I do [Xenuluvr88]
        • Hey you *&%$#@! [TeeCruise] -- post pending deletion
  • post deleted by administrator
    • That's it! I am going to sue you in England! [TeeCruise] -- post pending deletion


Such is the outcry every week when Stein submits his Power Rankings -- and it's slightly less funny to read what people write. And while Stein isn't God, the waves made by his weekly Power Rankings cause ripples all over the Internet. Sports Illustrated (a corporate RIVAL of ESPN) has a forum on their servers, yet on that server people who talk sports have message board throwdowns about Stein's rankings. SI has their own power poll, by the way, but the fans of SI are talking about ESPN's rankings . . . on SI's message board. Even The Onion, probably the most consistently funny (and honest) satirical view of our modern society, mentioned Stein's Power Rankings a while back. Would we care if Stein's rankings did not come from the self-styled "World Wide Leader", and thus, were bereft of this absolute authoritarian weight? Most likely no, because you don't see people go Apeshit "monkey poop mode" over the weekly rankings over at BallDon'tLie, or RealGM . . . well, they do, but not to the same level.

Ultimately, it is the fact that they style themselves as the WWL that draws us to them. Some agree, some disagree . . . and random people dedicate time to discussing them (good things and bad things), validating those people who feel like no press is bad press. I'm a sports fan. I hate ESPN. I really do love to hate them, and I feel justified in doing so as a fanatic of a small market sports team . . . but does it even matter to the execs over at ESPN? If they surfed their way over here they'd see "ESPN", "" and the word "love" about a dozen times and give each other raises, never really stopping to read it.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go check out their webpage to see if anything new is up . . . for me to go all Angry Dad over.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just like the 'new coke' and 'coca-cola classic'

Okay, less people in my reading base actually have widescreen monitors than I though. I'm going back to posting the main body text into a format that is readable by all -- but I'm not going to change the right side bar thingy. The right side bar thingy was just too much HTML work to put in for someone who was never taught HTML; thus, reverting to what I had before invalidates that one book I bought on HTML. (And the hours I put into that code) This way both groups of people have something to complain about now, instead of just one. For widescreen users you're going to just get used to a lot of trapped white space. For normal computer monitor users, that right side bar thingy is forever going to look jacked up. Basically, all my widescreen revisions of the blog will go down in history as the "new coke era" of my blog. Great. That means that people should like my blog more now that I've put it back to normal again, ha ha . . .

Coca-Cola rolled out a wellresearched, taste-tested new formula to energize its lethargic brand. But a firestorm of consumer protest led to New Coke's demise after 79 days, when the original was brought back with great fanfare. Today, New Coke is a celebrated chapter in Coke lore.

The Jedi Voodoo Mind Trick Hype Machine

It should come as no surprise that after the Jazz started to get a) some of their injured guys back, and b) allowed some of their banged up guys (who were still playing) to get well again that c) the Jazz would start to win some games. Similarly so, people all over the world would start lauding Utah again. This has been par for the course over the last few seasons. In the 2004-2005 season the Jazz won only 26 games. Why? Not because of any extra-ordinary amount of 'suck', but because of injuries. (AK and Booz were out almost all of the season EACH) The next year -- when healthy -- the Jazz almost made the playoffs. End result: people started to talk about the Jazz. Since that time, the Jazz have increased their wins in each of the successive seasons. Alas, it would be folly to suggest that the Jazz did better when they weren't flying under the radar.

Flying under the radar

They do. A small market team that no one likes tends to band together better with the 'us against the world' attitude that happens with multiple all-star snubs, and poor projected win numbers. When everyone is flying high with the Jazz bad things happen. (After all, that 2004-2005 season where the Jazz won only 26 games was supposed to be a big win season according to, they had improved themselves the most over the off-season in their power rankings) Perhaps being disregarded early (due to poor playing in December and January each season) helps the team mentally get ready to "show everyone" that they were wrong for counting out the Jazz.

After all, no one was talking Jazz at the All-Star breaks the last few seasons (except for last season maybe), but each time the team is able to have spectacular runs in the final 30 games of the season and have won their division twice in a row. The mental edge that some of our players hone due to being passed over may not be so sharp right now when everyone and their grandmother is counting the Jazz in this time around.

Hollinger, of, once suggested that the Jazz would be the team to watch in 2009. Even after the season of injuries that the Jazz have suffered so far, he contends that the Jazz can still win the division. Mark Stein, also of, moved the Jazz up to 9th best in the league in his power rankings, and in his chat later on this week suggested that he should have moved then up to 7th bestChad Ford, again,, chimed in yesterday that when healthy "the Jazz . . . are the Lakers biggest competition in the West." Skeets and Tas over at TheBasketballJones suggest that the Jazz *are* this good, and only injuries got in the way.

As nice as all of this sounds, even the most vocal, yet highly respected, detractors of the Jazz have gotten on the respect wagon of late. AOL's NBA Fanhouse could be my browser homepage, their contributors get the news out from all over the league onto the net almost faster than anyone else. They recently had a roundtable discussion on the Jazz, and anyone who knows their writers knows not to expect glowing reviews. Matt Moore has contested for quite a long time that the Jazz are paper tigers. [fair enough...] He, however, did recant somewhat on his own blog, the amazing Hardwood Paroxysm, with his post "In the interest of fairness". ( quoted MM yesterday on his LHM tribute) Moore even suggests that reading the comments in the Fanhouse roundtable elicited him to dig a little deeper.

"But I read the comments on our round table today, which featured an amazing combination of actually lucid, intelligent commenters, and I realized that I just didn’t fully give the story."

I'm guessing he wasn't talking about the comment calling everyone a moron, but perhaps maybe this one started things off. That "Doc A" guy sounds really smart. Now only if he had a blog that he could post his thoughts on . . . one that properly formatted itself depending on the browser settings of the viewer . . . grrrr. [For those who didn't get it, I'm "Doc A"] Tom Ziller (you should know who this guy is if you like reading basketball on the internet) goes where no one else has gone before and even suggests that we should, collectively, "Fear the Utah Jazz".

The recent love for the Jazz extends beyond the reaches of's columnists or bloggers . . . Kenny Smith (who has two rings), despite not being able to pronounce Deron Williams' name, goes out and heaps praise on our, small market team.

Charley Rosen, Phil Jackson's butt buddy, is an opinionated old coot whose analysis of games is limited to whatever game is on cable TV that month. Dude doesn't even go to games. Essentially, if you look past his mediocre success as an assistant coach in the CBA he has no greater insight into the game than anyone else with a remote control and a laptop. This week he found it within his back heart to say something nice about our players -- one in particular -- the same one that Kenny Smith can't pronounce despite covering him for at least two rounds in each of the last two playoffs.

All of this must sound great if you are a Jazz fan, right? On one hand it either shows that the world at large is a) respecting our team, or b) had their head so far up their sigmoid colon that they merely overlooked the Jazz and their lower seed record as evidence that the Jazz were just a bad team. I don't particularly find much comfort in either answer.

Deron dunks on Dampier

The Jazz don't do well with hype. You can look back and see what happened in that eventful 2004-2005 season, or look farther back at what happened in the 1998-1999 playoffs . . . or still farther back to one of those 5 first round exists during the early Stockton & Malone era after looking so good at such a young age by taking the Lakers to 7 games in 1987-1988. Hype can dull the edge, or worse, completely remove the chip off of the shoulders of our hungrier players. By giving the Jazz too much hype, perhaps, our expectations for them will never be attainable? Partly because of our expectations, but alternatively, also due to the hype removing some of the focused insanity that motivates people when they feel disrespected. Utah needs all the focus they can get, just look at their road record vs. under .500 teams . . . they don't play well unless they feel like they have something to prove.

These are not the serious playoff threats you are looking for

So please, for the sake of the Jazz, don't hype them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Requisite Oscars/NBA cross over post

[EDIT: After several emails and other comments which told me that this post was unreadable, I re-formatted it so that it no longer appears ONLY in widescreen resolutions. Now all the text should appear. Thanks!]

If you are like me, you have a special woman in your life who made you a) watch the Oscars, b) simultaneously tape it to your digital media recording device, and c) do the same for the pre-Oscars red carpet thingy. Hopefully this is a small majority of men out there, for watching a program so self-aggrandizing disgusted me . . . then again, I read the website, so perhaps the two forums aren't too far off in reality. That said, let's take a look at some of the movies nominated (and not nominated), and see if there's some loose threads we can stitch together to make a post about . . .

After this off-season he's going to change his name to Moneysap

The big winner of the night was "Slumdog Millionaire", despite actually casting the talented Anil Kapoor in the role of a villain, the movie was pretty solid. It was not the best movie of all time, and it's not going to make anyone forget about previous movies that dominated the awards ceremonies, but it was a small film from the middle of no where that came on strong . . . and as people continued to notice it . . . it became such a huge hit that it ended up winning 8 Oscars -- you know 3 less than Ben Hur (my fav. movie of all time). Perhaps if the field was stronger this year, and there was more competition for Slumdog then the movie would not have been regarded as such a success. Sound like anyone we have on our team? It should, we have our own Slumdog Millionaire on our team in Paul Millsap -- born into a difficult situation in Louisiana growing up under harsh economic situations, yet learning the value of hard work, he has fought his way into the NBA and earned a minimum salary contract. This year he is a (restricted) free agent, and looks to break out and win his big payday.

A Carlos Boozer Joint (not affiliated with Brevin Knight)

A few Jazz fans would easily take the easy route and make initial connections to Carlos Boozer with the movie "Doubt". I don't want to go there, especially not when his coach goes to bat for him and suggests that Carlos has done everything he has been asked to do. Instead, I'm going with "The Dark Night", while the movie was enjoyed, it did not really gain any critical claim (save for being nominated for 8 Oscars). The Dark Knight, essentially, is a movie that delves into the issues of perception and reality. Bruce Wayne is a good guy who is caring and hard working who hides that with the appearances of being an extremely wealthy 'douche bag' who lives a good life and is vapid, but somewhere between the real Bruce and the fake Bruce is a man who fights for good. Yet even in doing that his crime fighting persona is equally loved and vilified by the very people that he is fighting for. The only people who really get Batman, really understand him and the sacrifices he has made are those closest to him -- his team. How is this not Carlos Boozer? We all think he's a bad guy -- isn't this almost exactly how all people on Gotham's police force and underbelly alike (save for Gordon) see him? He is like a Dark Knight in that he is not without blemishes, he can take the criticism, yet still press on to do good.

The part Jerry Sloan was born to play

When looking on I see a lot of movies that are highly ranked partly due to their own virtues, but mostly popular due to how recent they are. The 'industry' really appears to be a 'what have you done for me lately' kind of business -- and this is similar to the NBA in some respects. Thankfully some performances do get recognized, even though they are by older actors, or happen to occur in movies that do not have high profile stars the kids of today are familiar with. It's pretty much the same mentality that makes Doc Rivers a two time coach of the year -- yet he couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag, he's been fired like 2 times hasn't he? Clint Eastwood is a throwback, and his character (in Gran Torino) of a grizzled old man assessing his life in the wake of his wife's death, and trying to still forge a place in the world for someone like him really seems a lot like Jerry Sloan. Sloan has won a lot of games and was an All-Star a few times as a player himself; Eastwood was one of the best leading men in the film industry and gone on to be a great director. If it is possible, I find that both are talked about quite a bit, yet, both are still under appreciated today.

Andrei and Masha Kirilekno

Okay, this one is a stretch, but . . . did anyone actually see the highly acclaimed movie "The Reader"? 15 year old boy thrown into 'the game' in Europe during crazy times, passionate love affair with older woman who has a crazy past? Dude likes to read? Sounds like Andrei Kirilenko, who turned pro at the age of 15 (well, I think it was 16, but that's still 2 years earlier than CJ did); and married an older woman. (Masha is a few years older) The time between Andrei being a professional till them meeting later in life masks some weird shit Masha did. No, she was not employed by a genocide organization, but she did study abroad and became a pop music producer. (Not exactly the straight and narrow) Let's just saw that she knew much more of the world before Andrei knew her.

Starring Matt Harpring

I don't really want to go into it, but "The Wrestler" and Matt Harpring -- both are tough, gritty and flawed individuals trying to do the best they can with what they have -- while fighting their toughest rival yet: father time. Both spend more time grappling than any of the fancy moves you see today, and I guess that Harpring's wife (who is a successful doctor pulling in over $175k per year) is kinda like former Oscar winner Marisa Tomei on some level on the spousal success meter.

Starring Jarron Collins

I did not watch this movie either, but the plot seems kind of interesting . . . there's this guy, and when he's born he's all old and stuff. And then he ages backwards . . . somehow there's a tie into a love interest (and the special time in their lives when they are both the same age) and something about New Orleans. I guess the point, or gimmick is that instead of getting older, something natural, he gets younger. What else defies the natural laws of reality? How about a guy who was pretty solid in his rookie season, only to get worse every following season in the NBA? Thus, I give you, "The curious case of Jarron Collins". (click on "the curious case of" to go to the website for the movie, or click on Jarron's name to read his actually curious case)

I could not actually find a movie poster for this one . . .

If you thought the Wrestler=Harpring thing was a stretch you're not going to like liking Kosta Koufos with "New Boy" . . . a story about being the new kid in school. Apparently there are some race issues in this movie, or undertones, and they probably don't exist in Kosta's life unless Memo gives him a hard time about Cyprus or something.

To get to the mooooooovies!

Okay, this is another movie I have not seen, but . . . the concept of "Step Brothers" seems interesting: two guys end up having to live together (as their single parents get married) and they have to learn to live with it. They have a history of competition, but -- I'm guessing -- learn to work it all out together. I'm thinking 2005 Draft Pick C.J. Miles and 2006 Draft Pick Ronnie Brewer for these roles. They were initially thrust into having to live together (as starters), have a history of competition (they had to fight for playing time over the last few seasons) and -- we're hoping -- learn to work it all out together. Both hardly see much time in the 4th quarter of games, and have had their ups and downs this season, but right now both are playing quite well. Also their film history does suggest that they could carry a comedy film. (necessary link)

Either their director was wrong, or I am wrong about what this movie is about

Out of all of these, the least research was put into linking "The Visitor" with Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko. In the movie a college professor learns that he has some illegal immigrant squatters living in his apartment -- instead of calling the cops we get a drama about cultural exchange and growth. Instead of making it a college professor, how about a college grad . . . and instead of squatters, a large Ukrainian guy (with work visa troubles) who doesn't have a drivers licence and calls you all the time when he needs to go somewhere? This has buddy comedy written all over it, something like Rush Hour meets What about Bob?, but without all the fighting, and probably about twice as much slap stick comedy.

Just . . . a horrible movie all around

Okay, that's a flat out lie . . . the least research was actually trying to link "Burn after reading" with Memo, Korver, Brevin and Ronnie Price. Korver is the pretty dumb one (Brad Pitt). Knight is the intense dumb one (John Malkovich). Memo is the funny, bearded dumb one (George Clooney). Ronnie Price just wants to get paid (Frances McDormand). I got nothing.

I'm coming for your APG title, CP3

Lastly, I'm not a huge fan of remakes, though at times I can freely admit that a modern take on a great movie/character/script is well worth the admission. For example, I think that 12 Angry Men is a great movie; one that would be good in the right hands if remade. Similarly, John Stockton was amazing, and a modern take on him would desperately help our team escape from the Milt Palacio's and Keith McLeod's of previous years. That said, some times expectations are hard to meet on these remakes. "Quantum of Solace", on its' own, is an okay movie -- but as an closeted remake of the older Bond movie "Licence to Kill" it pales in comparison. The new Bond is better than the old Bond in some ways, similarly, Deron Williams is better than John in some ways -- but really, I think historical revisionism is going a bit far when some Jazz fans feel that Deron is better . . . Deron Williams' hasn't even made an All-Star team or been first in the league in APG in a season yet. But back to the movie . . . Quantum of Solace is, essentially, a revenge movie. A strong character who often has to do it on his own to get things done finally gets some help around the end of the film, puts it all together, and does what he is supposed to do, in order to attain that very small quantum of solace. Deron has over the past few seasons been an All-Star, though his 'team' hasn't won enough games by the All-Star break the past two seasons to warrant his inclusion in the All-Star game. This season has been no different. James Bond is in similar situations where he's not highly regarded, has to do it alone, and though hard work and perseverance gets the job done. The few quanta of solace for Deron this season (again, no All-Star nod) will have to be making the All-NBA team (again); getting just as far, if not farther than CP3 in the playoffs (again); and beating his ass in head to head competition (again).

Yeah. Going to bed at 2 am on a Sunday night isn't that fun . . .

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Requisite CP vs. D-Will head to head tracker

We all know who is having the last laugh . . .

We all love Chris Paul, we love his smile, and his fancy dribbling, and all of his commercials on TV. We also love his temper tantrums, how he gets frustrated and starts to hit people in the nuts . . . or just last night with the game in hand and an opportunity to run out the clock in a classy fashion on the homecourt of a team whose owner just died the day before he decided to drive in for a dunk -- only to get blocked by Andrei Kirilenko (who was not credited for the block on that play for some reason).

Chris Paul is awesome. He's the whole package. He just can't beat Deron Williams -- a fact that's known to the NBA and the schedule makers, that's why the Jazz and the Hornets have only played each other 3 times per season twice in the last three seasons.

Anyway, here are how they fare against each others' teams:

C.Paul 12 35 15.67 5.08 12.50 40.67 0.50 2.25 22.22 5.00 5.83 85.71 8.67 2.58 3:25 2.25 0.08 3.00 3.00
D.Williams 13 35 16.92 6.77 12.54 53.99 1.15 2.77 41.67 2.23 3.23 69.05 8.00 3.15 2.54 0.69 0.08 3.31 2.92

The first thing that shows up is that Deron has played one more game, it's not his fault CP missed one of these head-to-head marquee match ups. Secondly, Deron is killing Chris on shooting percentages (save for the FT line) -- 54 fg% > 41 fg%, 42 3pt % > 22 3pt%. Deron scores more and is way more efficient in his shooting, and Chris assists a little more -- that's pretty much a wash. Chris steals more and Deron rebounds better in this match up. They both have the same number of blocks per game. Chris has a better assists:turn over ratio, but he also fouls more.

Probably the only stat that matters is W 10 - L 2. What's that? That's the score between Deron and Chris, and Deron's beaten Chris 10 times.

Go Jazz Go! and RIP LHM!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"To be honest with you Diane, I'm surprised..."

You may not know where that quote is from, so just to get it over with . . . watch this.

This season has been surprising for a variety of reasons, and there are some things that have surprised me immensely; though, I was probably not as surprised as Erica up above was, the point needs to be said: this run on sentence features the word "surprise" a surprisingly large number of times. In celebration of me murdering the English language, here are the Top 5 surprises of the Utah Jazz season so far:

5. Record against Eastern Conference teams:


Right now the Jazz are sitting at 32-23. Over that span the Jazz have gone 22-11 against the Western Conference, that's not too shabby when you look at how injured they have been. Over a closer inspection, though, this reveals that the Jazz have gone 10-12 against the East so far this season. That's pathetic. Sure, 7 of those 12 losses have been on the road (on brutal road trips); but that means that the Jazz have lost to the East 5 times ON THEIR OWN HOMECOURT! Chicago, New Jersey, Miami, Orlando and Cleveland have all beat the Jazz in Salt Lake City. It's bad enough to lose to contenders on your homer court, but to lose to teams like the Bulls, Heat and Nets is just inexcusable. I remember that Orlando game vividly, the Jazz were pounding Orlando, I felt good about the game and went out to get some "drive thu" at halftime. When I came back the Jazz were getting killed. What happened? For whatever reason, the Jazz have sucked against the east this season . . . it's one thing to have the Cavs sweep you, but the Bulls also? Yeeesh!

4. Kyle Korver's shooting:

Oct 9 2008 [Melissa Majchrzak NBAE/Getty Images] Kyle shoots it

Remember the good old days, last season, when Korver shot 47.4 fg%, 38.8 3pt% and 91.7 ft%? Those were good days, weren't they? They were not career highs for Kyle (save for fg%) but he came to the Jazz with shooting percentages that boasted career averages of over 40% from deep and 88% from the stripe. I even felt that he would improve after a Utah Jazz training camp (based on the premise that Hornacek's percentages all went up from his half a season with the Jazz to his first full season). Well, this season he's been fighting through a wrist injury on his shooting hand that has seriously impacted his shot making ability. It hasn't hurt any other parts of his game as he's boarding better, playing remarkably solid defense for stretches . . . and he's still getting the same TYPES of shots that he was making last season (i.e. waaaay open shots within the Jazz offense). That said, here are his numbers this season through the 51 games he has played so far:

40.9 FG% 34.7 3PT% 85.5 FT%

Sure, they are not that bad, especially not his FT and 3PT percentages compared to the average guard off the bench in the NBA, but let's not forget that shooting is Kyle's speciality. He's shooting 7% worse from the floor than he did last season. His three point percentage is a CAREER LOW right now (wasn't he supposed to be our three point ace?) and his FT% used to be sky high (90+ %) but has leveled off quite a bit.

3. Kosta Koufos is a lot better than I thought he would be:

Nov 21 2008 [D Clarke Evans NBAE/Getty Images] Kosta throws it down with two hands

I like Kosta, he seems like an amazing person and an amazing team mate. He's very coachable and works very hard. I did not know that he was as good as he has shown, though. I did probably over analyze his games over the Rocky Mountain Review, but I'm happy to say that he's not the same player that we all first saw. Back then he was a guy who almost shot the ball as frequently as once every 2 minutes on the floor, was a dead-eye FT shooter (90.9 ft%) and had a 38.1 fg%. Really, check out the stats. Instead he's a guy who is giving the Jazz almost 5 ppg (51 fg%, 70 ft%), 3 rpg, and nearly 1 bpg -- as a rookie. It's surprising that we aren't seeing more of him. I appraised him and his first season as one of learning, working hard, and being much more offensively gifted than Fesenko was as a rookie. I was correct on all of those counts; though, I thought that he would have at least spent some time down with the NBA-DL . . . but Jerry has hardly used that at all this season.

2. The Boozer/Millsap conundrum:

Nov 3 2008 [Stephen Dunn NBAE/Getty Images] Carlos spins inside
Dec 2 2008 [Rocky Widner NBAE/Getty Images] Millsap goes inside

I think that Boozer is pretty much what anyone would want from a power forward statistically. He scores very efficiently and rebounds like a man possessed. Millsap doesn't have the offensive polish of Boozer, but in times where 'Sap got playing time, he was able to produce some really eye-opening numbers. This is how I felt at the beginning of the season, and still, it's hard to get away from my thoughts which suggest that Boozer is a quality NBA starter (just not on man to man defense), and Paul Millsap is a Top 10 Bench player in the NBA. There's a fine line that should distinguish these two (and no, I don't mean salary), and at times this season Millsap has shown himself to be the equal, better, or in some cases, lesser of Carlos Boozer -- at times blurring this line, and other times justifying it.

Arguments can (and have been) made to suggest one is better than the other, but really, shouldn't we be happy to have both -- together!?! (Even if it's just for the short term?) Boozer can do things Millsap can't, and vice versa. Millsap's play this season (mostly as a starter as Boozer has been injured for 43 games) may have pushed his going rate to higher than the Jazz may be willing to pay -- if they intend on keeping both players. This is a surprise to me, because I felt as though Millsap was a great younger player, but not a guy knocking on the door of a $8+ million dollar a year contract. How many of you out there on the Internet thought he would be worth as much?

1. All the Injuries / The Jazz record despite all the Injuries:

I don't really need to spell this one out, but I'm really surprised at all the injuries -- and even more surprised by being so many games over .500 -- I guess this is why you have to play the games though, right? Just read this for more information.

Walking Wounded

Let's be honest, this was supposed to be our season. Not our season to 100% win the championship, but a year where things were supposed to come together better than they had the previous seasons -- guys would be at the end of their contracts, and this would be a make or break season for the team as it is currently composed. Instead everything pretty much went absolutely nuts -- in a bad way.

It could have been worse, you know -- it's not like we traded a player only for him to fail his medical examination (right Hornets?); or we haven't played our highest earning player a single second this year (right Knicks fans?). That said, it hasn't really been that great either.

I haven't been that glued to the Jazz this season partly because of how bad it got. I haven't felt this distanced since the 2004-2005 season (where AK missed 41 games and Carlos missed 31). The Jazz are sitting at 3rd place in their division and 8th in the conference right now. Why? If I had to point my finger on something I'd have to go with "Injuries for $500, Alex". After playing 55 games this season the Jazz have (only?) 23 losses.

Position Name Role Accolades # of games missed Status
PG Deron Williams

Team leader

All-NBA 2nd team last year, Top 5 PG in the L, Gold Medal winner


Injured in pre-season, played hurt all season long, finally feeling healed over the last two weeks

SG Ronnie Brewer

Primary wing defender

Top 5 FG% SG in the L

SF C.J. Miles

Utility player on offense

Never really had playing time before in his life

PF Carlos Boozer

Top Scorer, Top Rebounder

Multiple time All-Star, Gold Medal winner


...and counting...

C Mehmet Okur

Best outside threat, clutch shooter

Former All-Star, captain of his National Team


Had to fly to Turkey in the middle of a road trip because his father was on his death bed

6th Man Andrei Kirilenko

Best defender, Glue guy

Former All-Star, MVP of Eurobasket 2007, European player of the year 2008


Just had ankle surgery, came back early, could have been out longer

  Brevin Knight

Team veteran off bench, oldest player

one of the best career Assist:Turn over ratios

  Paul Millsap

Became starter early in the season because of Boozer's injury, previously just an energy player off the bench

Had 19 straight double doubles this season


Got injured when the Jazz were reeling from other injuries to forwards/centers, has been playing hurt over the last 6 weeks

  Matt Harpring

Toughest hustle player

Player other NBA players hate to be defended by


Near fatal foot infection after surgery in the off-season

  Kyle Korver

Bench sharp-shooter

Highly regarded three point threat


Has played entire season with wrist injury to shooting hand

  Jarron Collins

Backup center

Probably had a good SAT score


Off-season golf cart accident that injured him and his twin brother, still a bad player, but still our backup center

        157 games total  

That's a lot of games missed by key guys. If you divide 157 games evenly between your starters, and their back ups, you get an average of 16 games missed by each of your top 10 guys on your depth chart. That's not bad, especially not if those are spaced out. That's quite manageable. Unfortunately, the Jazz have had multiple injuries at the same time . . . sometimes to the same position on the court. Heck, there have been games where both Deron Williams and Brevin Knight have been out. If you haven't been following along, Jerry Sloan's offense is only as good as the point guard running it. During this stretch the Jazz had Ronnie Price (former 2 guard), C.J. Miles (a former 2 guard now playing the 3) and Andrei Kirilenko (former 4 playing the 3) running the show. How solid would the Lakers have been at the 2 (the triangle's most important position) if Kobe and Sasha were both out? Probably not that great, I reckon.

D-Will has recently recovered Carlos, how did you get injured? Kind of emo here . . . This isn't actually Harp's foot . . . we all know his body is made out of bricks, especially his hands Memo returns to Turkey in 2005

D-Will had to be carried off on Oct 18, 2008 thanks to some amazing Bowen like defense by Derrick Rose (Photographed by Joe Murphy for NBAE/Getty Images)

Boozer hurt his knee on Nov 19, 2008 against the Bucks, a non-contact injury which made little sense. (Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images)

AK was down but not out after his ankle surgery -- he came back to play pretty quickly for such a fragile looking guy. (Photographed by Lisa Blumenfeld for NBAE/Getty Images)

Nasty post-op foot infection, not actually Matt Harpring's foot though . . .

Memo and his dad Abdullah in the Istanbul Int'l airport, in happier times back in 2005.

Lots of teams face injuries during the season, it's just part of the game. Very few teams face a multitude of injuries/absences to the same position at the same time though. The zenith of it was a game against Philadelphia where Memo had to leave to fly to see his dad in Turkey, Jarron Collins was injured, Kyrylo Fesenko had to leave the country because of a work visa problem, and the Jazz had to start a 19 year old Kosta Koufos -- and Kosta had to defend guys like Elton Brand and Sam Dalembert all night long. The Jazz actually won that game. How crazy is that? All hail expanded rosters and 4th string (actually he should be 2nd) centers! [Sadly, this was one of the first games of the season -- and the most RECENT game recap on All That Jazz]

The injury situation has been absurd this season for the Utah Jazz . . . heck, yesterday our injured team owner even passed away. Never has a team been so cursed with injuries it seems. Well, there is good news -- so don't jump off any bridges yet. Right now the Jazz are the least injured they have been all season -- with only one key guy (Boozer) who is out. And rumor has it that he will be ready to play next week. The Jazz have managed to position themselves in the playoff hunt, and they are only 5 games behind in their division. Utah plays Denver twice yet this season, so if the Jazz win those two games then they only need to make up 3 more -- which is easily done if we come back hungry and healthy in this 2nd half of the season. It's a good time to be a Jazz fan, because as dark as things look now, things are only going to get better. After all, in the last few games the Jazz have (while still not at full strength) knocked off the LA Lakers and Boston Celtics.

Oh, if the Jazz do win the division Jerry Sloan should get COY . . . all the other playoff teams would have died by now with 157 injuries (spread unequally among the rotation guys). So here's to a healthy next 27 (+playoffs) games!

Go Jazz Go!

Sometimes Change is good, other times . . .

. . . other times it can be bad. [of if you have been following the NBA Trade Deadline deals, sometimes change can be just for the sake of change, neither good nor bad!] Hopefully the changes in this Blog are for the better. Similarly, tonight is the first day in the rest of the life of the Utah Jazz. Seemingly fitting, it has gotten me off of my butt and elicited posting again. I really do enjoy blogging, and over the last few months I have missed it. Unfortunately things in life require more attention to others -- in the long list of things I am involved in, blogging daily was easy to give up. (Especially because there are so many great Jazz blogs out there!!!)

I've made some changes here, the first one is that I'm not formatting my post posts to be viewed optimally in a native widescreen format. Last year I was still clinging to my teachings of doing things in a newspaper format (including the thin little columns of text, and so forth). This is a new year and a new age. Widescreen seems to be the wave of the future -- and really, if I'm finally using it, then most of the world would have already adapted to this. Surely this sucks for the loyal fans of my blog (I know you are out there, I check out your IP addresses!) who do not view the blog on a widescreen screen. [You know, the people kicking around on windows 98 era computers and/or reading this at work]

Going widescreen has allowed for me to put seemingly more information in the side bar (which was becoming quite cluttered otherwise). I'm sure that this looks horrible in the regular 4:3 screen ratio (I know, I pivoted my widescreen 90 degrees -- like it used to be -- and took a look for myself, it's nasty); but it's just something I'm going to have to live with. Just like we're going to have to live with situations we wouldn't prefer, but have to none-the-less.

I'm also not going to try to post as frequently as before. I was having fun doing that, and had moved into the Top 100 NBA blog rankings @; but the other big Jazz blogs do that so well already. I don't need to put out a game preview and recap for every game when what I wanted to say has already been said. Kind of like how no soft drink can really complete with the Coke and Pepsi brands, I'm going to once again get back to my roots by posting stuff distinct enough that it warrants reading outside of current Jazz news. I'm going to try to keep up with the YouTube Tuesdays and other regular features though . . . so hold on tight. This is the 2nd half of the NBA season, and I guess, the 2nd half of the blogging season too! Btw, the Blog does look a whole lot better in Widescreen . . . take my word for it!

The King is dead. Love live the King!

Recent events have forced my hand, and I can no longer remain silent. We are all hurting right now. A season filled with injury (no need to elaborate) and insult (lack of recognition from the NBA family, especially during all-star weekend) just got worse. Larry H. Miller died yesterday. Typing the words makes my heart ache and fingers feel ashamed for even punching in the string of offending letters that spells such a statement. Earlier this year Larry was in bad shape, and back when I blogged about it (back when I was a frequent blogger) I even suggested that he was not out of the woods yet. ("after all, 'you know this guy' could have very well become 'you knew this guy' . . . ") It really does pain me that he is gone.

Not just on a Jazz fan level, but on a personal level. While I've never been a Utahn, never been a part of his church, or driven a car from a dealership he owned . . . I am at quite a loss right now. He was on my list of people that I wanted to meet once in my life, and now that will never happen. (For the record, I could easily live without having ever met Stockton, Malone or Sloan in my life)

Larry was different. He was a team owner, and a self-made business man (he used to sell auto parts door to door apparently, and last season generated $3 billion in revenues from his various businesses), but he was a fan first. He had walked the lonely road, and followed his conscience in his endeavors. He wasn't a rich old man chasing girls younger than his grand daughters. He wasn't an over night Internet billionaire who did not work a day in his life. He was the type of man who against logic and sound business sense would be loyal to his initial investments and make them worth the time and blood and effort he put into them.

Some casual people look at the Jazz and see an old school franchise. Their coach, Jerry Sloan, is old school. John Stockton's shorts are old school. They work the ball for layups, that's old school. Well, they were old school from top to down because Larry was old school. He did not cut an run when things went bad. He didn't need any stimulus package because he knew the value of hard work.

More than just a hard working, self-made business man he was an even better human being. Sure, his values were conservative (why is this almost automatically a negative adjective today?) but he was more than just a rich old man. I couldn't even begin to list all of good things he did for the community, and the state of Utah, in his life time. Nor am I the right person to do that. What I can do is relate some of my favorite Larry H. Miller stories:

Yeah, Miller used to play soft ball, and he was pretty good at it too!
  • I remember an incident that occurred early in Karl Malone's rookie season. When Malone arrived in Utah he did not know anyone. One night (which probably led to many nights over the years) he was visiting with the team owner. [How often does this happen? How amazing is it that Miller was even accessible to his most wet behind the ears employee?] Somehow, perhaps after dinner, Miller was driving Malone back to his apartment. Instead they were having such a deep conversation on the way back that Larry pulled into a Wendy's parking lot and they just stayed there, talking for over three hours. Both emotional men talked about their demons, what motivated them, and about life. That night a rotund Mormon business man and a large African American athlete from the south bared their souls to each other and forged a relationship that has lasted the rest of Miller's life. They both laughed, cried (anyone familiar with either individual knows that this is the truth) and a team owner was able to connect with one of his players on a level seldom achieved in professional sports. Karl and Larry have been family ever since, Malone even mentioned on TNT when he was on that he was going to go see Larry shortly. I hope for Malone's sake that he did -- otherwise it would be something Malone would beat himself up over for the rest of his life. [For the record, Malone did see Miller at least as recently as last August]
  • Larry did not play favorites though, back in the 1993-1994 season the Jazz were playing the Denver Nuggets in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Malone was having a particularly poor game and killing his own team. Miller -- a Jazz fan first and owner second -- moved out of the stands to personally instruct Sloan to bench Malone. Not to belabor the point, but I'm pretty sure the Lakers owner (Dr. Jerry Buss) isn't even clinically aware of when his team is playing, let alone if it's a home or road game. Larry was a much more hands on coach, but not obnoxiously so.
  • Larry took the time to understand and befriend all of his players -- though some more than others. While Deron Williams has only been in the league for 4 seasons, they have known each other well enough to call each other "friends," (, 2009). Miller even admitted that he does not relish playing against Deron in anything, but it's a challenge he does not shy away from. Why? Because they are both super competitive people -- but while Larry can be a gracious winner, Deron is not satisfied being named victor unless someone loses. What other team owner knows these personality quirks of his players?
  • He also befriended the SLC media where he even had a frequent (monthly? weekly? I don't even remember anymore as I don't get to listen to the radio over the Internet that frequently anymore) radio address on a local sport talk radio station, 1320 KFan. From those radio address I was able to learn much more about Larry, and where I became a huge fan of his.

Miller, though, was much more than just a Utah Jazz guy, or a Utah guy. He was an NBA guy. Miller was one of the instrumental players who was able to negotiate an end to the NBA Player's Association lockout back in the 1998-1999 season. If you are a fan of the NBA product you have Miller partly to thank for that -- regardless if you love or hate the Utah Jazz franchise. If you do love the Jazz, then you have so much to thank for, for this is the guy who was instrumental in making NBA basketball a possibility all these years in such a small market.

So today is the first day in my life as a Jazz fan where Miller isn't a part of the team. And it still hurts. It hurts his family. It hurts the players. It hurts the Jazz community. It hurts the Utah community at large. It hurts all around. Miller is survived with the new face of the franchise, his wife Gail; the Jazz brass (see sidebar at right) -- particularly his eldest son Greg; and a legion of loyal Jazz fans hungry to cheer on the Jazz to bring Larry his first NBA title.

Larry Miller holding his eldest song Greg in 1967 Larry Miller (in wheelchair weeks before having his legs amputated), Greg Miller stands to his right

Please be sure to visit the other great Jazz blogs for their awesome posts on this subject. Together we can heal and console each other. Right now is the time for the Jazz Family to circle the wagons and take solace in the fact that it is always darkest before the dawn returns. SLC Dunk | True Blue Jazz | The Cowhide Globe