Hayward’s emphasis on tradition seemed noticeably inconsistent
Make no mistake about it, as much as Utah Jazz fans love to laud the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone, their multiple playoff runs and pair of Finals appearances, Gordon Hayward was absolutely correct when he stated that overall the Jazz’s tradition of success isn’t anywhere near the level of the Celtics. No matter how you spin it, 17 championships is infinitely more impressive than zero.
Thus, it wasn’t so much the fact that Hayward brought up Boston’s incredible history as a motivator to join their team that bothered me, but rather that he used that to back up his decision to join Boston, but in the same podcast seemed to have inconsistent views about the impact of other past successes.
It just seemed odd to me that he even mentioned that legends like Pat Riley and Larry Bird were before his time and thus they weren’t as relatable to him from a basketball standpoint due to the simple fact that the high points of their careers came before he was even born, but then would go on to make Boston’s storied past seem like an incredible factor in his decision to join their ranks.
In other words, at least in my mind, he almost seemed to say on one hand that past successes were a big deal to him, but that on the other hand they seemed somewhat distant. Of course, it’s much easier to get absorbed in a franchise legacy than connected to an individual person that he didn’t have much opportunity to watch, but it still appeared as if there was a bit of a double standard.
In fact, in Gordon’s lifetime, although the Celtics obviously won a title in 2008, the Jazz have two more playoff appearances (20 to Boston’s 18), the same number of Finals appearances (2) and 169 more regular season wins (1,328 vs. 1,159). Therefore, if we’re looking at things from more of a recency standpoint and applying the standard that Hayward expressed in some instances that much of what happened before his time didn’t feel as relevant, then there’s an argument to be had that Utah and Boston truly aren’t that far apart.
Now, to reiterate (and to avoid Celtics fans getting too up in arms), I’m certainly not saying that the Jazz have been a more successful franchise throughout their history. The 17 championship banners hanging in the rafters in Boston are evidence of that. I’m only saying that in terms of the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality, the gap between these two organizations isn’t all that drastic.
And since Hayward only seemed to put emphasis on the importance of tradition when it backed up his decision to choose Boston over Utah while downplaying it in other mentions, it felt like he was largely ignoring what Utah has been during his lifetime and what it has the potential to continue to be. And in some ways, for Jazz fans, that had to be hard to hear.
Like it or not, though, Hayward’s decision has come and gone, and nothing – not hindsight, hypotheticals, analysis or pipe dreams – can change that. While he was certainly deserving and welcome to make whatever decision he felt was best, it’s still understandable why many Jazz fans would feel slighted or upset.
But with this recent podcast providing at least some semblance of closure, it’s certainly time to move on. And fortunately for Utah Jazz fans, even in Hayward’s absence, the Jazz still have many things going their way and ought to be in store for a bright and entertaining future for years to come.