Utah Jazz Editorial: Help needed! NBA fan on the edge

Mar 31, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (left) and center Rudy Gobert (27) wait to enter the game during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz won 95-88. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (left) and center Rudy Gobert (27) wait to enter the game during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz won 95-88. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

Devoted NBA fans (particularly those supporting the Utah Jazz) never receive credit for how emotionally taxing supporting their favorite team or player can be.

Please forgive me. I am in a bad mood.

During the five-year Utah Jazz rebuild project, I fell in love with the NBA all over again. The NBA playoffs had become my favorite time of year. I would watch every game of every series.

Last year’s playoffs Round 1 through the finals were as entertaining as I can remember. This year was even more highly anticipated with the Utah Jazz entering the fray. Unfortunately, aside from an exciting Jazz-LA Clippers series, it’s been a disappointing ride.

News Flash:  This year’s playoffs have SUCKED!

If David Stern was still the NBA commissioner, tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists still living in their parents’ basement would be flooding social media platforms with tales of how the playoffs are rigged. I can hear it now – “Prior to Game 4, the NBA secretly contacted the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, and referees.” “This series cannot end in a sweep.” “Find a way to extend the series.” Thank God for Adam Silver.

Let’s rewind what’s happened so far in this year’s second season. NBA All-Stars Blake Griffin, Isaiah Thomas, Tony Parker, and MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard were all lost to injury. Let’s not forget the #8 seed Chicago Bulls originally dominated the #1 seed Boston Celtics, easily winning Games 1 & 2 in Bean town. However, injury struck again as Chicago headed home with two upset wins, but no Rajon Rondo.

On a personal note, Isaiah Thomas lost his 25-year old sister to a tragic accident prior to Game 1 of the Bulls series, adding yet another blemish to an already discouraging postseason. God bless Isaiah and his family. I am a huge fan of I.T.

The Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Portland Trail Blazers were nothing more than patsies in their 1st round series. The Milwaukee Bucks/Toronto Raptors series was just boring.

The Jazz/Clippers match-up was by far the most entertaining series. Close games, road teams winning on the other team’s court, certain players digging deep carrying their teams to victory, physical play, testy players, one team trying to overcome ghosts of playoff pasts, the other trying to forge a new legacy of winning – this series had it all.

The Clippers were once again struck down by the curse of their former owner and NBA racist, Donald Sterling. Coach Q grew as a coach while his team battled. The Jazz finally overcame in Game 7.

After that the team was off to Oakland which was an almost certain series loss but also what many presumed would be an opportunity to measure the team’s progress. Not so fast. As it turned out, the Jazz were the walking wounded – George Hill’s big toe, Rudy Gobert’s knee, Derrick Favors’ leg, and Rodney Hood’s knee put an end to learning how good this team had become.

Now on top of all that I’ve had to suffer through in these NBA Playoffs, I am expected to be understanding, supportive and patient while Gordon Hayward sows his rightful free agent oats.


Hayward doesn’t even officially become a free agent until July 1st. I am already irritated bordering on anger with a side of anxiety. I have followed the NBA for three decades. Today’s NBA and its players are not your father’s NBA. I get it. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Pardon me while I revisit history.

John Stockton and Karl Malone were originally drafted by the Utah Jazz. Both came here as parenthetical boys. The duo grew up as men and as players. Perhaps younger fans have forgotten Stockton and Malone were voted by Sports Illustrated as two of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time.

Playing in Utah was good enough for them. Each earned their rightful place within the walls of the Basketball Hall of Fame. The team also played in back to back NBA finals. That all happened in one of the smallest NBA markets.

Stockton was heavily pursued by Pat Riley and the Miami Heat. Stockton could’ve taken his talents to South Beach long before LeBron James. If Stockton had left for Miami he’d most likely have a championship ring.

Malone was courted by practically every team trying to convince him to bolt from Utah. Karl was more fragile and emotional than his counterpart. However, Karl remained loyal to the franchise throughout his best years.

Thus, I cannot and will not be quiet, understanding or patient while Gordon and Mark Bartelstein, Hayward’s agent, field phone calls and take meetings from would-be suitors.

Gordon has the upper hand. The Jazz cannot do much more than wait. Will Hayward follow the example set by the statues?

Forgive me for saying it but, he damn well better.

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If Hayward decides to leave Utah, I will always believe the decision to leave was made long ago.

Furthermore, I will enjoy watching Gordon learn one of life’s harshest lessons; rarely if ever is the grass greener on the other side of the hill.