My nephew’s reaction to a Utah Jazz loss deserves a post all by itself.
My nephew’s reaction to a Utah Jazz loss deserves a post all by itself.
Well, here we are. A few weeks into the season, and the outcomes of these games have been less than stellar. And not just the outcomes, but the games themselves. Sometimes watching them has been akin to watching equally disastrous train wrecks like the roll-out of Obamacare or anything Miley Cyrus. I want to turn away, but I can’t. The worst part is, I can’t think of an easy answer to fix the problem of getting behind by 30 points at halftime to mediocre teams, or the problem of being last in the league in offensive efficiency and 28th in the league in defensive efficiency. I mean, it takes a special kind of bad to be listed as the clear frontrunner on ESPN’s “Tank Rank”.
Whenever things get bad and answers aren’t readily apparent, I like to look to unlikely sources for solutions. In this case, I think I’ve found my source of inspiration. I don’t remember his name, and if I did I couldn’t write it anyway thanks to our country’s HIPAA laws, but from here on out, I’ll call my source of inspiration Jiminy.
The Creative Solution
One chilly night at the E.R., things were quite busy. The waiting room was backed up, and I was the only doctor covering with most of our rooms full. This meant that those who showed up with less emergent problems were triaged into the waiting room while the sicker patients were seen first. And this is the predicament Jiminy found himself in. He had a cut on his thumb. It was bleeding a little. And Jiminy was very drunk.
Jiminy couldn’t understand why he wasn’t shuttled right into a room, past the chest pains and the broken arms, so that the cut on his thumb could be immediately repaired. Jiminy had a problem. He needed to be seen right away. What could he possibly do? Take note, everyone, because Jiminy solved his problem by getting creative. He did what very few people would have thought to do. And he got seen immediately because of it.
Jiminy realized that he needed to create a more important problem for himself in order to be seen sooner. So he walked outside into the dark night. He found a highway near the hospital. He walked into the middle of this highway and laid himself right down on the road. The first car to drive by nearly ran over him. The driver then pulled over, called the police, and WHAM, Jiminy was cuffed and brought into the E.R. ahead of the pack for medical clearance.
Just to make sure that I was treating him with the proper urgency, he began announcing loudly to the rest of the patients in the E.R. that a car ran right over his stomach. Of course, he then informed me privately that his stomach was feeling pretty good and he really needed the cut on his thumb stitched up.
Sometimes you have nothing left to lose. Currently, the Jazz players are finding themselves about there. Tyrone Corbin is finding himself about there. True, expectations were not high to begin with. But they were higher than what we’ve seen so far. At some point, the Utah Jazz have to play like there’s nothing left to lose. The Utah Jazz have to get creative.
I’m not saying they should lay down on a highway in the dark. But I am saying that it’s time to get creative. Do things that others just wouldn’t think to do. If they work, Corbin looks like a genius. If they don’t, well, does anyone think that this team could be playing any worse? Here are some of my creative suggestions, just off the top of my head:
1) Start Rush and sit Jefferson. True, Jefferson hasn’t been terrible, maybe not even any more terrible than anyone else. And Rush has only played something like ten minutes this year and he looked pretty rusty. But truthfully, Jefferson has been a turnover liability with 2 per 25 minutes, he’s shooting 21% from 3pt, and there’s a reason he didn’t play much for Golden State.
Replacing Jefferson with Marvin Williams seems very uncreative, and judging by the Toronto game, seems like it would be very unhelpful. Replacing him with B. Rush, however, will get Brandon back into game shape, give the Jazz a defensive presence, and probably give the Jazz a wing that can shoot better than 21% from 3pt and have fewer turnovers than 2 per 25 minutes. What have the Jazz got to lose?
2) Start Burks. At the point. Sure, he’s not a natural point guard. But he’s skilled. Way, way more skilled than JLIII or Jamaal. And he’s clutch. Coach should tell him at the start of the game, “Look, Alec. I want you to pretend it’s the fourth quarter from the moment you step out there, and pretend that we need lots of points. But no more off-balance 20 footers. I want you to drive every time you see any opening. Drive and dish, drive and finish, drive and get fouled, but be aggressive.”
Seriously, it can’t make our starts worse than they have been. Burks’ clutch stats were tremendous last year. His fourth quarter stats are tremendous this year. I would say his clutch stats this year are tremendous, except that the Jazz have only played Burks a total of 2.4 minutes in which they were within five points with five minutes left in the game. Games have rarely been close enough to be considered clutch situations. Sad face. Burks did shoot 67% from the field in those 2.4 minutes…
3) Provide real incentives and real punishments. Things like “after your second turnover, you get five minutes of bench time. Third turnover, seven minutes.” Why not go crazy with this sort of thing? If you take a charge, you stay in the game 2 minutes more than planned. The five players who have the highest percentage of “hand in the face of the player they are guarding when that player shoots” are the five starters for the next game. The player with the most steals gets to go out for ice cream with Sidney Lowe after the game. Sure, it’s crazy. But it just might work.
Taking It Too Far
Now, a word of caution. It is important to be satisfied with what good comes from your creativity. Be grateful for what problems you were able to solve. And know when to stop. My friend Jiminy did not know when to stop. He thought that, since he was on a problem-solving roll, he should move on to the problem of the handcuffs. His creative solution this time included threatening the cop’s wife and family and then spitting in the cop’s face, in hopes that the cop would relent and let him free.
Well, this one backfired. Before I knew what was happening, the cop was calling for backup while Jiminy was commandeering the tray of chlorhexidine I’d used to clean his thumb and slingshotting it against the room’s glass door. He then somehow got his feet up onto the bed, arms cuffed to the side rails, standing hunched as if he was bed-surfing, and began to throw his weight back and forth to try to propel the bed forward like a battering ram with hopes of pinning the cop against the door. This creative solution was a massive failure. Let’s just say that the rest of his night did not have a favorable outcome for my man Jiminy.
I recognize that there are limits to getting creative. Some crazy ideas may not work. It may not work to provide real incentives, or start Burks at the point. Heck, it may not work to trade away all of the Jazz vets and try to lose lots of games in order to draft a superstar. But why not try? If it backfires, go back to playing it safe. But I’ve had enough of playing it safe. If you ask me, right now it’s time to get a little crazy.
Got any crazy ideas for the Utah Jazz that just might work? Post them in the comments, or tweet them to me at @jeffersoniandoc.
It could be worse.
Ever since we lost our best and brightest new point guard to a hand injury, I’ve had hand fractures on my mind. It’s never good to lose the rookie that you’ve pinned so many hopes and expectations on to a broken anything. Especially a broken anything that needs surgery. But I’ve been thinking back on other similar injuries and have decided that it’s not so hard to look at the glass half full with this one. Let me take you through my thoughts, starting with Trey’s injury.
The Burke Fracture
I got my first bits of information about his broken finger from David Locke, who said in his radio call of the game that Trey’s right index finger looked deformed, like it was dislocated. Trey came out and played a bit after the injury, so I assumed the trainers thought they popped what they assumed to be a dislocated joint back into place. Then came the news that it was broken. After the game, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News tweeted that Trey pointed to the part of his finger between his middle and hand knuckles, which is known to medical types as the proximal phalynx. This is when I knew it was bad. In fact, I went ahead and put my medical reputation on the line that Sunday and tweeted out that it would probably need surgery. According to Wheeless’ Orthopedic Text, proximal phalynx fractures are “potentially the most disabling fractures of the hand”. My guess is that this was a condylar fracture involving the middle knuckle’s joint space, which is a common athletic injury, often mistaken for a sprain or dislocation (why he was likely allowed to return to the game), and the hand specialist would likely use the Chamay approach to repair and stabilize the fracture fragment with wires or screws. I include this information for no other reason than to give you readers something really cool to say at your next water cooler conversation. I know what you’re all thinking. The Chamay approach not only sounds like a killer spy movie, it also sounds like something really unnatural for the hand to have to experience. You would be right. But I’m convinced that it could have been worse…
The Boozer Fracture
Carlos did some good things while he was here. He also did things involving pulled hamstrings, partially torn calves, bruised ribs, and “taking it slow” while he was here. This lead to general frustration of the fan base that then lead to a widespread chuckle upon receiving news that he would miss two months of his first year with the Chicago Bulls in 2010 after sustaining a 5th metacarpal fracture. This bone is most often broken at the knuckle end, or “neck”, and is commonly referred to as a “boxer’s fracture”. How did Boozer do this? Well, in his words: “”It was just dark. My doorbell had rang and I tripped over a bag, tried to brace myself and it popped…I’m 265, 5 percent body fat. I’m heavy, man. I guess I had to brace myself and my weight just collapsed the bone right there.”
I know I am about to surprise a lot of people here, but I’m going to come out with a hard-hitting accusation anyway, one which I’ve made before: Carlos lied. His tripping over a bag and being “heavy, man” did not lead to his busted hand. Anyone who wants to go on believing that Boozer is honest and respectable should try the following: 1) Put a gym bag in front of you in the dark, 2) Walk forward until you trip over it, and 3) Fall, and as you fall, note what your hands do when you catch yourself. They open. The force is transmitted through the base of your open palm and wrist. If you are going to break anything with a fall, it would be one of the carpals (wrist bones) or the forearm. A person just doesn’t get a boxer’s fracture with an open palm. Your hand has to be fisted, exposing the pinky knuckle joint to an axial load. This happens when a person is punching something, thus the name “boxer’s fracture”. This makes even the alternative rumored, equally ridiculous story on how Carlos broke his hand (he broke it thumb wrestling some guy named Tom Donaghy) quite unlikely. Unless he lost the thumb wrestling match, and in a fit of unsportsmanlike rage, hit the wall…or Tom Donaghy…after the loss. But this doesn’t sound like Carlos. He isn’t prone to rage, or being unsportsmanlike, or lying, or…ok. This is my point. It could have been worse…
The Bryant Finger Fracture
Back in December of ’09, the insufferable Kobe Bryant did what he does best. Drum up national media support with his entitled attitude. Call me bitter over this type of behavior, stemming from a Jazz fan who had to listen to media worship Jordan for his “flu” game performance, never mind that he had iv fluids given to him while none of the other players had that benefit. Or maybe it stems from the hero worship that entitled Curt Schilling to contribute to the dark days of steroids baseball by juicing his way to a bloody sock cheater’s victory in the 2004 World Series. Wherever my negative sentiment comes from, it was made worse after reading the national media gushings over the amazing things Kobe was doing with a broken finger. Even a certain Utah Jazz play by play announcer contributed to the hype recently when comparing NBA finger fractures (“if we don’t count Kobe, who played on his broken finger, and only include mere mortals in our analysis”). Gag me.
To be clear, not all finger fractures are busted equal. Trey’s fracture was significant and serious. Kobe’s was…not so much. He had a fingertip fracture. One that does not require surgery. One that does not even require splinting for healing; you can splint it for comfort if you want, but that’s it. His fracture is sort of the equivalent of stubbing your toe, except the pain will last a few weeks, and then it’s better. You aren’t going to do more damage to it by using it, you just take some Advil and keep playing. So let’s not join in on voting a bad person into the Immortal Superhero Everyone Worship Me Hall Of Fame for doing what most people in his situation would do. Yes, you read that right. I called Kobe a bad person. I will not contribute to the general press bow down to praise the guy who was married with a new baby during a time when he should have been on trial for rape, and would have had he not had millions of dollars and the backing of countless press corps to coerce and disparage a poor Colorado hotel worker (“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did” sounds like rape to me). But ESPN would rather praise Kobe despite his poor shooting for playing on what amounts to a stubbed fingertip than call him a bad guy. I am glad that we Utah Jazz fans don’t have to join in on such nonsense. So, it could be worse…
The Tough Old Farmer Fracture
I remember a night in residency that I was working the urgent care area, which is the part of the ER where we see colds, dental pain, and back spasms. Generally quick visits. I went in to see an old farmer in his seventies with a “finger injury.” I asked him what brought him in and he told me “I don’t even think I need to be here, but my son made me come. The jack on my truck popped out a few days ago and I hurt my finger.” I asked him if I could take a look at his finger and…DUDE, your index finger is gone! I mean, gone! There is a little piece of bone fragment sticking up where your finger should be! Where is your finger!
I don’t think I said “DUDE”, but I did ask him if he knew where his index finger was. He looked at me like maybe I was taking this a little too seriously, and then grunted out an “I don’t know, I must’ve lost it.” You lose a remote. You lose a cell phone. You don’t lose a finger! DUDE, your finger is gone! Every stereotype that ever existed about old farmers being tough – they’re all true. ESPN should write articles about guys like this: “Seventy-Five Year Old Farmer Bails 56 Bails of Hay and Milks 23 Cows After Getting His Finger Cut Off.” I would read that. And I would vote a guy like that into some kind of Hall of Fame. At least Trey didn’t keep playing on his finger injury for a few days. And at least Trey still has his finger. Yes, it could have been worse…
Glass Half Full
Let’s recap. Our newest draft find, Trey Burke, broke a finger. It was a serious brake on an important finger, it needed surgery, and it may take up to 12 weeks for him to be back on the court according to some reports (I would guess closer to 6-8). But by all accounts, Trey is treating this injury as a professional should. He did not lie about it. He was fully cooperative. He has shown no rage. He clearly wants to get back on the court. So he’s no Boozer. He is not playing up the injury. He has not exaggerated his plight in any way. And by all accounts, he’s not a bad guy. So he’s no Kobe. He did the smart thing and took professional help and advice before he was beyond help. And he still has a finger. So he’s no old farmer. So, it could be worse. We could have backup point guards who weren’t ready to step up while he’s gone, guards not named John Lucas III or Scott Machado or Lester Hudson. It could be…well, you get my point.
So, the new season is upon us! Just like most of you, I have been counting down the days until the first game with a paper chain that has been wrapped around the bedroom wall. I’ve also been thinking about how this new team must be feeling as they’re coming up on their first day at the new job, new environment, new huge pressures, new everything. My guess is there will be some stomach butterflies among them. Their upcoming first day made me think of one of my first days that may give some insight into the pressures these guys might be experiencing.
My First Trauma Call
I went to medical school in Milwaukee. I loved it there, especially for the valuable training I received from meeting many members of the Knife and Gun Club during clinicals. In my fourth year of medical school, I signed up for a rotation in trauma surgery to prep myself for my residency in emergency medicine. I still remember my first call night of that rotation. There were 4 of us students, but only 3 interns that month. That meant one of us would be on call without an intern to help us. The schedule came that first day, and wham, my name was scheduled on the days without an intern on call. It was just me, the upper level resident, and the trauma surgeon vs the guns and motorcycles of Milwaukee. I got a lump in my throat, and looked forward with dread toward that first 30 hour call shift I was scheduled for.
It came. I was in freshly washed scrubs and new shoes, my pockets packed with trauma handbooks and ATLS reference cards. My fellow students wished me luck as the time came for them to go home for the day. I remember as the hours ticked by that I kept nervously checking my pager. The first several times it went off, it was for easy stuff. Nurses asking if they could give their patients pain meds or asking me to look at healing wounds, standard fare. The upper level resident was awesome and was there whenever I needed help. She encouraged me to get sleep whenever I could, so later that night I remember laying down in one of the call rooms thinking “Ok, I can do this.” Then came the first big page.
It was 3am. The text on my pager read “Trauma I. GSW chest.” I jumped up and ran to the ER, my heart was pounding, I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to help. When I walked into the trauma bay, there was a crowd of doctors and nurses waiting for the patient. Within seconds, the paramedics wheeled him in. He was a young kid, maybe 18, and he was sitting up and talking. ”Couldn’t be too bad,” I thought. Then, suddenly, he wasn’t talking anymore. He slumped down. I caught a glimpse of his chest and saw an obvious shotgun wound, close range, likely self-inflicted. ”I need C-Spine immobilization!” the ER doctor yelled, so I ran over and held the patient’s head still while the doctor shoved a plastic tube down his trachea. The trauma surgeon had an ultrasound probe on his chest, and in minutes declared “He has a tamponade. Call the cardiothoracic surgeon. We have to go now!”
I ran with the team to the O.R. and scrubbed in. Both the resident and the trauma surgeon were short women, so I was charged with standing over them, holding open the chest wall and peeling back the left lung to provide a viewing window to the heart as the surgeon worked. I saw lots of blood pooling into places I knew it shouldn’t be pooling. Some was pooling onto me. My new shoes. ”Pledgets! I need pledgets!” The trauma surgeon started weaving small pieces of absorbable polypropylene material into the wall of the heart, trying to clog the pellet holes. It seemed to be working in the heart, but the aorta was still gushing. The cardiothoracic surgeon came rushing in. He took a look, thanked the trauma surgeon, and replaced her. “Clamps!” It went on. At one point, the surgeon asked the anesthesiologist how many units of blood we’d gone through, and I remember the response was 21. Most of that was on my shoes. That aorta didn’t stop gushing.
I remember watching the heartbeat slow and quiver as the anesthesiologist declared that the patient had gone into an unstable rhythm and needed compressions. I remember being asked to pump the heart as the surgeon kept working, so I layered it between my hands as if it was the jelly in a PBJ sandwich, squeezing a hundred times a minute, watching as the heart turned from its bold strawberry jelly color to a pale peanut butter color. I remember the surgeon calling out the time of death and leaving the room with the parting instructions “Prep the body.” I remember feeling completely alone in the room despite the company of the surgery tech and the kid eight years my junior strapped to an OR table with his chest splayed apart. I remember asking the tech for some “big sutures and one of those tweezer things” because I couldn’t think of what the adson forceps were called. I remember sewing the chest closed in the silence of 4am. I remember going back to the bathroom near my call room, taking off my blood soaked scrubs pants, holding my shoes under the shower water, and quietly crying.
Three hours later, after morning rounds, my fellow students asked me how my night was. After I told the story, one of them looked at my shoes and said “I’ll be back in a little bit.” She came back with some new shoes that were my size. I needed that. On my way out of the hospital, I remember seeing some people gathered in the hallway, crying and wailing. I knew who they were. And I wondered what I had gotten myself into by choosing this career path.
I wish I could remember when he said it and what was exactly said, but I do remember the message Ty Corbin sent to the general public a little while back after he was asked a tough question and was trying to defend his team. He said something along the lines of “most people have no idea what it’s like to feel the kind of pressure that these kids feel every day.” I remember hearing that and thinking that on one hand, I appreciate that Ty Corbin has his players’ backs. But on the other hand, he sort of discounted all of the pressures and hard times and experiences all of us have at one time or another. I felt invalidated. I think all of us understand pressure. We all understand the nerves that accompany expectations, and we understand the sinking feeling that accompanies bad outcomes. That’s why we love sports. Some of us watch these games and follow these storylines and see metaphors for our own lives, our own struggles, and use it as a sort of escapist cognitive therapy for our trials. And that’s why I wish Ty wouldn’t try to separate us from that metaphor. I wish he would encourage it. So I am going to encourage it.
We all have “first day” stories. I just shared one of mine. You have yours. The difference for these players is we all get to watch as they experience theirs. So when we get to watch the first time that Trey steps on the court to play an NBA game, when we get to witness the first time the “core four” starts together, let’s feel with those players. At some point, some of these players will wonder what they got themselves into. They will no doubt feel emotions we are all familiar with: anticipation, pressure, loss, success, fear, doubt, triumph. Let’s feel them too. Let’s find inspiration in how these players redouble their efforts to work through the lows of a rebuilding season, and let’s celebrate with these players as they experience an unlikely buzzer beater against a juggernaut team.
Who knows, maybe we’ll witness the birth of a genuine superstar. Maybe we’ll see the beginnings of real national attention directed towards one of the awesome small market players we have here. Maybe one of these players will end up with a big shoe contract. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up with new shoes because of someone else’s first day.
Thanks to my wonderful wife who reads and proofreads all of my posts and tells me they’re good even when they aren’t. Thanks to my good friend and fellow writer Dave for sharing this site, as well as for @Clintonite33, who has some great blog posts you should read (http://bit.ly/18ri3mA ). Thanks to @andyblarsen (please read SaltCityHoops.com if you don’t already!) and @DJJazzyJody (also read the desnews.com Jazz section, great stuff in there) for taking the time to read and give me feedback and that all-important validation. Thank you all for reading. Please share this entry’s shortlink http://wp.me/p3AlgK-3U via twitter/facebook and I will return the favor as best as I can if you let me know (@jeffersoniandoc). And leave comments!
Have all of you had the experience of backpacking in the mountains and coming across a mysterious, crotchety old man who tells you stories of his encounters with Sasquatch? Or is that just me? I love the tale: the idea of a mysterious creature that is much like ourselves, creating havoc, getting in beef jerky commercials, living in the wild so stealthily that no one has successfully confirmed its existence. Great story. I once had a close encounter myself.
It was the summer of 2002. My friends and I were on the tail end of a week long backpacking adventure, and I decided to explore a lake 2 miles from our base camp to test the fishing. No one else wanted to make the hike, so I packed a two way radio and some tackle into my friend’s diaper bag and took off. As I came out of the woods and onto the shore of this lake, I heard a distinct sound of heavy stomping and trees crashing on the west bank, just ahead of me. It startled me more than Corbin’s decision to start Josh Howard in the playoffs startled me. My mind raced about what it could be. Honestly, my first thought was that it must be a Sasquatch! I recalled my experience of talking to a mysterious man in another range who was convinced he had a run-in with the beast. So this was to be my fate. Death by Bigfoot.
It took me a while to calm down and talk myself into believing it could have just been a moose. So I cast my line. A nice trout on the first cast! I cast again, and got another quick hit. I started to reel, when suddenly I heard it again, just 100 yards to my right. This time I really freaked. I reeled in faster, and looked up. Then I saw it emerging from the tree line, a large brown furry creature. It walked right up to the bank next to me and our eyes locked for one of the longest seconds in my life. I was scared out of my mind, totally confused on what I should do. Without warning my inner fisherman took over, finished landing that twelve inch Rainbow, and stuffed it into my friend’s diaper bag. Then I took off. The creature seemed as scared of me as I was of it, and it brambled off in the opposite direction back up into the woods.
The big brown furry creature was not Bigfoot. It was a bear. But the difference was negligible. Either way, it shocked me. Either way, I thought I was going to turn into some animal’s dinner. Either way, my friends wouldn’t believe my story. Either way, that thing wanted the fish I was reeling in, but I FINISHED REELING AND PUT IT IN MY SACK AND RAN OFF WITH THE SMELLY TROUT STILL ON MY PERSON. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
The Mythical Basketball Player
People act dumb when it comes to stories about things that can’t be proven. Which brings me to the point of my post today. We’ve all heard the name “Ante Tomic”. But I’m not sure that anyone has confirmed his existence. I’ve heard tales, read reports of sightings from crotchety old has-beens like BYU alum Travis Hansen or Utah State alum Spencer Nelson, who insist that he is out there somewhere. So do we believe them? Is he a real creature? A 7’2″ 26 year old with a buttery smooth turnaround hook that would make Pau Gasol blush? I’ve done the same thing most of you have done: stayed awake late at night, staring at the ceiling, imagining what it would be like to have solid proof of such a specimen on my very own living room TV, playing for my very own Utah Jazz. But then I wake the next morning, deflated by the realization that it’s all just a dream. How can we make this a reality?
The illustrious network Spike TV is starting a new reality TV show called “10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty”. This is a real thing. A show in which Dean Cain hosts a competition between nine teams of professional Bigfoot hunters in a race to prove the monster’s existence, with, you guessed it, a $10 million reward to the team that proves he’s real. I’d watch that show.
Not long ago I was very entertained by a twitter storm of #UtahRealityTV show suggestions courtesy of @RickAaron featuring theoretical shows such as: The Big Bangerter Highway Theory, Say Yes To The Dress With Sleeves, Toddlers and Testimonies, Survivor: West Valley City, America’s Next Top Multi-Level Miracle Juice…it goes on. In line with this, I propose the Millers sponsor a show called “10 Million Dollar Ante: Nine teams of scouts, former college players, bloggers, and foreign relations guys like Dennis Rodman (yep, he’s off to North Korea again “to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there or something like that”…again, you cannot make this stuff up) all go in search of the mysterious 7’2″ mythical Ante Tomic creature in attempt to prove that he exists. The team who brings home tangible evidence of this remarkable specimen wins the money and lifetime Executive Courtside Seats in those leather recliners in section H.“ I’d watch that show. And I’d send in a video application to get on the show, complete with a montage of me army scooting through the sagebrush in the dark with a buck knife between my teeth in attempt to take down this beauty.
Pie in the Sky
But really, it’s all just hopeful thinking. Just like my hope that Dean Cain will somehow end the Bigfoot show by handing out $10 million big ones as Bigfoot is finally captured. Just like my hope that Dennis Lindsay, Walt Perrin, and Karl Malone bring home the Tomic and he ends up being the next Pau Gasol. But these hopes are the equivalent of me stuffing a trout in my bag as I’m running from a large bear (I recently learned that bears can outrun racehorses over short distances). Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. To this day my friend gives me a hard time about the rotten fish smell I left in his diaper bag.
Ante Tomic makes for a fun dog days of NBA summer topic. But that’s what he should be left to. Let’s not be the fans who hold out hope for an imaginary player when we have some great bigs right here, on US soil, no dreaming required. Kanter, Favors, even Gobert is a 7’2″ reality. And all of them are likely to be better defenders than Tomic would be. We’ll be just fine without having to rely on some beef jerky mascot. Just fine.
Thanks to my good friend Dave for allowing me to use and ruin his favorite diaper bag all those years ago, and to @RickAaron for his excellent stream of entertaining tweet topics a few weeks back. And thank you all for reading! My intention is to return the favor, so as always, if you retweet the shortlink http://wp.me/p3AlgK-3y, I will reciprocate your good deed.
Did you hear the news? Everything in Texas is bigger. Especially their stadium screens. First, Cowboy Stadium gets a 160 foot wide 76 foot high screen, and now we get news that their Texan competitors are out to one-up them with two 277 foot wide 52 foot high screens. That’s really big. Those screens are basically the length of the football field. Wonder why big screens have suddenly become $16.5 million worth of important?
We recently moved. Part of the negotiations in selling our home included leaving my precious 55″ 240hz TV with built in surround sound. I cried inside a little, until my wife reminded me that this means I could get a newer TV for the new home. So, just two days ago we had a 60″ plasma Panny installed, because something inside me insisted that I must go bigger this time. And I couldn’t be happier. For some reason, I think that extra five inches will bring me 12% more happiness when I watch Jazz games this season. Which made me think of the Millers and their gift to us all.
This summer, the Millers announced that they are shelling out $15 million for a 42′ x 24′ lengthwise and 26′ x 17′ width wise centerpiece scoreboard to replace their puny old 10′ x 10′ screen. While this still won’t be the largest NBA screen, it’s the largest one outside of the state known for large things. Which isn’t so bad. So, what’s the motive behind giving us this gift? Why now? I’ve been thinking about all the benefits, or things the organization could do to really take advantage of this new toy, and here’s my top ten:
10) Show life-size replays of Rudy Gobert blocks without cutting out part of his arm.
Just another reminder that Gobert has a wingspan of 7’9″. Look for Bolerjack to remind you of that many many times this season. If his likeness were on our old screen, it would take some tricky camerawork to show a life-size replay of him stuffing someone. Now that we have a 42′ screen, that shouldn’t be a problem.
9) Permanently install a dunk cam on Jeremy Evan’s head.
True, this was one of Evan’s more gimmicky dunks at the contest 2 years ago, but it was still cool. It would be much cooler to see an alley-oop to Evans replayed through the eyes of a dunk cam in the middle of a game on a huge screen. It might be hard to get the camera to stay on his head, though. Let this be a call to allow headbands into ESA. Who knows, maybe Deron would want to come back if we allowed headbands; that’s probably what his argument with Sloan was about. Relax everyone, that was a joke.
8) Hold an NBA2K14 video game contest “Hunger Games” style to determine who wins opening tip-off.
Each team puts forth a tribute to play their own likeness in the video game, head to head blacktop mode, winner to get the first possession of the game, loser to be sacrificed to a hungry crowd. I think we would win more tip-offs this way, since I’m always hearing about how much of a gamer Hayward is. Fans would come in 15 minutes early to watch Hayward school the next unsuspecting opponent, and Hayward would become feared both on the court and off the court next season.
7) Show “Say Yes To The Dress” on the screen while the game is playing.
Stay with me on this one. I asked my wife to help me with ideas for this top ten list, and her response was “I could care less about a big screen.” Then it hit me. Those of us with spouses who like some things more than Jazz games need a way to keep said spouses wanting to come to the games. Why not satisfy them with episodes of “Say Yes To The Dress” or “The Bachelorette” while we are doing one of our favorite things? They will no longer “care less about a big screen” once they’ve seen a Bachelorette proposal on 42 feet of massive glory! Our wives will be running to the ticket office for us. Genius.
6) Revolutionize 3D Sports.
My new TV came with a pair of 3D glasses. Why? Because all new flat screen TVs are 3D capable nowadays. Just because they can be, not because any of us really use it. So I’m pretty sure this new screen will be 3D capable (otherwise they WAY overpaid for 42 feet at 15 million, since the Texans got a 277 footer for only 1.5 million more). If they truly want to be revolutionary, the Millers should pass out 3D glasses to fans as they come in the door, instead of towels or blankets. Imagine twenty thousand fans putting on 3D glasses to watch the scoreboard replays in 3D! Everyone dodging the basketball as it looks like it’s going to hit them in the face! What fun we would all have! I don’t believe that sports has ever been done in 3D before! Oh, wait, I was wrong. It looks like ESPN tried, and no one cared. But no one has tried it at a live event before! They could call it “Double 3D: It’s like you’re there, and you ARE there! Six dimensions of mayhem!”
5) Play a Pay-Per-View event during games that aren’t going so well.
If this season does turn out to be a tough one, with lots of losing (“growing”), we may have to sit through a few games like that Houston home debacle we suffered through last year. I’d be willing to slip the big screen operator the $40 it takes to get a big pay-per-view event broadcast up on screen to ease the pain of some twenty thousand faithful. MMA, Boxing, WWE, whatever it is would be sure to be less painful than watching a game like that one again.
4) Replace the opposing coach’s whiteboard pen with a Touchpen during timeouts in the fourth quarter.
Apparently I can buy a Touchpen accessory for my new Panasonic. I really don’t know what situations this would be useful for at home (I guess I could circle Gob’s big head while watching Netflix’ Arrested Development to emphasize it more than it is already emphasized). But I can think of how it might be useful at Jazz games. What if, during end of game timeouts, a secret spy switched out Popovich’s draw-up pen for one of these Touchpens, and little yellow X’s and O’s and arrows showed up on the big screen to the great delight of fans and Ty? Pop is under the scoreboard, and might not realize what is happening until it’s too late. Hayward could keep an eye up on the screen and then tell Ty “Hey, it’s going to Danny Green for three, let’s double team him” and maybe we could have some end-of-game success. In March of last year I researched Ty’s success in end of game situations. I found that the Jazz had the ball with less than 24 seconds in a game and down by 3, 2, 1 or tied, 26 times to that point in the season. They succeeded in getting the tie or go-ahead 6 times of those 26. That’s 23%. They were 0/12 between December 12th and March 9th. That’s 0%. Bring on the Touchpen.
3) Play “Big Screen Spot the Celeb”.
I don’t think there is anything that I hate more than Jack Nicholson TV spottings during Lakers games. Those broadcasting seconds combine so many things that I hate into one terrible moment that it usually makes me want to turn off the TV and go to my safe place. Fortunately, we have many more likeable celebrities around here that call Salt Lake City their home. Like, um…I know there are some around. Didn’t Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air show up to a Jazz game last year? Shoot, that’s because he’s friends with Mo and Portland now has Mo (Portland will never stop taking things from us – this time they have taken our only celebrity connection). Oh, how about Bachelorette stars Jef with one “f” and Brooks? They’re probably Jazz fans. Maybe. Wait, we have Jimmer! Umm. We have Coach Sloan! Dang, he’s not in the stands anymore either. We will find someone. And when we do, we will make his face forty two feet large! That’ll show every Lakers fan who ever existed! In your much smaller face, Jack!
2) Combine several timeout games on the big screen at once.
Imagine the screen sectioned off into four partitions during a timeout entertainment session: the first partition plays 10 feet of the fire engine/blue car/yellow car race with three representing fans cheering below, the second partition shows 10 feet of flex cam, the third partition shows 10 feet of kiss cam, and the fourth partition shows 10 feet of the Key Bank Shake Your Keys contest, all simultaneously. This would be awesome, mostly because I think we would end up seeing a guy on court wearing a blue car t-shirt with a girl on court wearing a yellow car t-shirt, both of them shaking their keys and flexing their muscles and kissing all at the same time in attempt to win all the contests at once. How cool would that be? Only problem is, I would feel bad for the fire engine t-shirt guy that was the odd duck out. Next time, fire engine t-shirt guy, next time.
1) Bring the All-Star Game to Salt Lake City.
This screen contraption is the equivalent of North Korea announcing that they are going to “demonstrate” their superior knowledge by shooting off a rocket, or by naming their leader the Sexiest Man Alive. Except that was The Onion. Fake news. Sorry, China Communist Party.
As an aside, at around 1:40 when the BBC newscaster Lucy is describing Kim Jong-Un’s qualities that led to the “distinguished” award, she keeps a straight face through the whole thing and instantly becomes the world’s most talented news reporter. Awesome. Back to the point I was making. Buying a $15 million indoor stadium big screen is basically the equivalent of the Jazz organization waiving their arms around saying “look at me! I’m no one’s little brother!” The thing is, for some reason, buying a huge screen actually works. Good things come to those who have big screens. The year after Cowboys Stadium got their monster, the NBA All Star game was held in their football arena, and the Super Bowl was there the next year. The year after the Rockets got their behemoth, they got the All Star game and Dwight Howard. The Texans get the Superbowl in their stadium 4 years after getting their new record breaker. Big screens demand attention. Salt Lake City really could use some attention. Maybe marquee players will stick around once they realize the Jazz are classy if only because the Jazz have a lot of pixels in their arena.
That’s it from me. Have another that should be in the top ten? Add a comment!
Thanks to all my faithful readers. If you tweet/retweet this link (shortlink http://wp.me/p3AlgK-29), I will add you to this credits section. Thanks to @Lilbax, @TheLisaWard and @monilogue for RTing this! Send me a message if you tweet it and I haven’t included you.
If you haven’t read part I, read it first. With these two blog posts, I’m confessing unpopular opinions, and here’s my big one: I believe that Jeremy Evans is an elite player. Uniquely elite. I think it’s important to start with this video:
He touched 12’7.5″. No NBA player has ever done that before. In fact, no athlete has ever done that at P3 before. There should be no question that Evans is unique. So as I build my argument that Evans is uniquely elite, don’t be afraid to leave heuristics behind and look at what the numbers have to say. I am going to try to sell my case as best as I can using stats and comparisons and video, but ultimately my unpopular opinion stems from something deeper. I’ll get to that. First, let’s delve into the numbers.
The Playing Time Factor
First, it’s important to understand what a player’s playing time ultimately means in determining efficiency and eliteness. Jeremy has a very small sample size of minutes to use in evaluating his effectiveness, so we must be careful in extrapolation. In fact, in his entire NBA career, he has played 897 minutes. To put that in perspective, if Evans were playing starting minutes (36) every game, this is the equivalent of less than 25 games total. We can take this two ways. We can say that it’s hard to evaluate Evans after 25 games. We can also say, dang, Evans is doing something remarkable for only having 25 games worth of NBA experience. I prefer the latter.
The Efficiency Argument
Scoring efficiency is basically how many points the player produces per possession used (PT/(FGA+0.44*FTA+TO)). And Jeremy Evans is hyper-efficient. Last year, his scoring efficiency was 1.70. That’s remarkable. The Jazz’ second most efficient scorer? Enes Kanter at 1.34. Hayward was close behind with 1.31. Last year, our highest usage player, Al Jefferson, had a scoring efficiency of 1.18, partly because he couldn’t get to the foul line. More perspective: LeBron James had a scoring efficiency of 1.50. If we look at the most efficient scorers in the NBA, we notice that most are big men. Efficiency numbers tend to favor big men because they get fouled and take layups and dunks. There are a handful of big men that approached Evan’s efficiency. The most notable is Tyson Chandler (1.72), who John Hollinger argues has had some of the most statistically impressive offensive seasons ever seen since Wilt Chamberlain.
The other players that approach Evans’ efficiency all have limits to other parts of their game that are so severe that it makes it near impossible for their coaches to keep them on the court for extended minutes. More from Hollinger: Chris Wilcox last year had an uncharacteristically high 1.69 scoring efficiency, but he is a bad defender, fouls often, and can’t shoot outside the paint. Deandre Jordan (1.48) has questionable work ethic, is a terrible FT shooter, can only dunk on offense, and has questionable defense. Chris Johnson (1.56) is a mediocre FT shooter and rebounder who could be interesting with more minutes after an uncharacteristically efficient season last year. Greg Smith (1.52) is intriguing, but is a poor FT shooter, bad shot blocker, and has questionable motor. Ryan Hollins (1.80, highest in NBA) also only dunks, has no post game, loses his cool easily, and is an “amazingly bad” rebounder. There are one or two more, but you get the idea. That’s the extent of NBA players, out of 400, with scoring efficiencies in the same atmosphere as Evans’. Even more telling, many of those players had a season that was much better than they usually have.
When you compare each of these player’s full efficiency (PER includes rebound rate, block rate, etc), Evans bests them all, in most cases not by a little. In fact, if you go to ESPN.com and sort players’ PER (make sure to click “all” and not “qualifying”) you will notice that Evans has the 32nd highest PER in the NBA, tied with Dirk Nowitski. PER biases toward minutes played (it isn’t supposed to, but it does) and offensive usage. Look at the 31 players listed above Evans. All of them are first or second options on their teams’ offense. None are bench players getting limited minutes whose stats could be skewed by a low sample size. Except Evans. Jeremy has a remarkably high PER given the usage he gets. More impressive is that Evans’ season was not unique for him. In fact, he has never played a season of basketball in which he’s shot under 61%. Not in 4 years at college, not in 3 years as a pro. That sort of consistency would be amazing for someone who only takes shots in the restricted area. It’s unheard of for someone who also takes jumpers. And Evans takes jumpers.
The Per Minute / Millsap Doctrine Argument
What is the Millsap doctrine? Kevin Pelton outlines the view-changing idea here, and it’s worth a read. It basically means that players with low minutes and good stats are more likely to improve those stats with more playing time than they are likely to regress to the mean. One explanation of this is as playing time increases, players learn to be more comfortable in their own skin. Why should we say Evans will be any different? So, let’s look at Evans’ per 36 numbers after the all-star break last year:
Pts 17.5 FG%77 FT%67 OReb 5.5 Reb 12 Blk 2.2 Ast 2.7 Stl 1.1
Look at those stats. It’s possible to improve on those numbers? According to Kevin Pelton, it’s not only possible, it’s likely. Some have said that the Millsap Doctrine may not apply to Evans because he is one dimensional on offense and defenders can focus on his one dimension once they learn his game. But I believe this is heuristics talking. First, defenders can’t just learn to jump twelve and a half feet to block Evans’ dunks even if they know what’s coming. Second, Evans can shoot mid-range jumpers. Evans actually appears to excel at jump shots. Last year, from 5-9 feet out he shot 100% and from 10-19 feet out he shot 57%. I will say that this sample size is low (given how rarely shooting plays are run for him) so it may not be representative. But it certainly doesn’t make me think he can’t shoot. It makes me wish he shot more. Want more evidence that Evans can shoot? He took 33 three point shots in his college career. He made over 36% of them. That’s not bad for a college shooting guard. Ever heard of a 6’9″ dunk specialist who could shoot at that clip? And you can guarantee his shot has improved since then; there’s certainly no evidence it has gotten worse. Besides, what else do you think he’s been doing with 3 years of NBA practice time? Learning how to dunk more efficiently?
The Crowd / Sportscenter Argument
No one can argue that home court advantage is not real and important. The crowd gets into a game, and it matters. The crowd is taken out of a game, and it matters. It affects the end result without question, and few places have a more influential crowd than Salt Lake City. What gets a crowd going? What drives this advantage? Big plays. Dramatic “did that just happen?” plays. That’s why I wish there was a stat for Number of Sportscenter Highlights Per 36 Minutes. True, this would bias toward the stars of the game, like LeBron and Kobe and Blake Griffin. When a non-star makes the highlights, it’s because of something truly special. And Evans, as a non-star, has managed to make the highlights an inordinate amount of times. Let’s remind ourselves of some noteworthy ones:
Now seems like a good time to remind you that Evans has played the starter’s minutes equivalent of 25 NBA games. Not many players with a lifetime of starts can boast a highlight reel like that one. Guess how often Evans dunks? Once every 10 minutes (Blake Griffin dunks once every 12.9 minutes, and he’s got Chris Paul). Guess how often Evans blocks a shot? Once every 14 minutes. That’s a game changing crowd screaming decibel meter maxing play once every 6 minutes Jeremy is on the court. That’s one player. You think Evans could make a difference with starter’s minutes? You cannot underestimate the value of these plays. And no one in the NBA can give them to you on both ends of the floor with close to the frequency of Jeremy Evans.
The Bowel Movement Argument
The real reason I think Jeremy Evans is an elite player is the reason that goes against everything I’ve written in this two part post. It is the feeling in my gut. But not that part of my gut that tells me one person should play while another shouldn’t. No, this comes from some deeper part. Much deeper. Somewhere deep in my bowels, like between my jejunum and my sigmoid colon deep. That’s where stuff is moved. And I want to be moved. Let me elaborate.
There’s a scene in “Warrior” during the final match where you are watching these two conflicted siblings literally beat their way through the complex emotions they have for one another, and you see the conflict in the father’s face as he looks on, and you suddenly realize that the movie has nothing to do with who wins and who loses. This is when the film becomes brave, like very few sports films do (Rocky and maybe Friday Night Lights). This is when you realize that the movie exists to show how competition can bring people together – people who were driven apart in the most severe of ways – and you feel a swelling catharsis of forgiveness and love as great as the brothers and father on the screen are feeling. This is when you are reminded of the time in your childhood when you went down the street to watch a Jazz game with a neighborhood classmate only to witness John Stockton’s buzzer beater against Houston, and everyone in the room is cheering and jumping up and down and hugging each other, and you make a friend for life. This is when you are watching a Utah State football game with your dad, and conversation is awkward at best, until Kerwynn Williams breaks free for a touchdown once, then twice, then three times in 4 minutes on the way to a bowl game blowout and the first Aggies end of year national ranking in 50 years, and suddenly conversation flows easily and freely. This is when you are in the arena with 19,910 other passionate Jazz fans and you suddenly jump up and high five your friends and your family and the total strangers sitting near you after this happens:
That’s the power of sports. And that is something that Jeremy can give us like very few players can. After all my talk of objectivity vs heuristics, this is the real reason I love Jeremy. This is why he needs minutes. He can change how we experience the game. When we see him do what no one else can do, we love the game. And that brings us together. Please. Please. Play Jeremy Evans. Let him move us.
Please read these fantastic blog posts by @allthatamar from SLCDunk here and here. Both gave me insight which contributed to this post. And thank you to the twitterers @davidjsmith1232, @Jazznetworkbuzz, @slcdunk, @UtahJazzPodcast, @Quinnurp7, @JazzNetworkStat, @McCadeP8, @lilbax, @jameson155, @UtahJazzTime, @UtahJazzAustin, @MarkPeacock11, and @MosesStone1980 who helped spread the word about this blog, you are great Jazz fans. RT my tweet, or tweet out the shortlink http://wp.me/p3AlgK-2v and let me know @jeffersoniondoc, and I’ll include you in the credits!
Just like all of you, I have lots of opinions. Some are very unpopular. Some are so unpopular that they would likely be considered heresy and lead to a comments lynching. Opinions like this bomb: It is my opinion that “Warrior” is the greatest sports movie of all time. I found it to be more moving than Rocky, better acted than Raging Bull, more entertaining than Hoosiers, more inspired in its ending than Rudy, and more re-watchable than all four. And I stand by that unpopular opinion. I believe that if you were to show those five movies right now to a group of sports fans who have never seen or heard of any of them, a majority of those sports fans would say their favorite to watch was “Warrior.” So there’s that.
The Unpopular Opinion
Why is saying something like this so damaging to my cred? It’s easy to write off an opinion as being *wrong* because it isn’t time tested or agreed upon by “experts.” And the experts that make their professions doling out opinions are afraid to fringe out because they lose credibility if no one else says they agree. So some would say it’s better to wait before sharing crazy opinions. Well, that may be. But I can’t wait any longer to discuss this next unpopular opinion. It eats at me every time I see a Walt Perrin quote or hear a Jazz Upper Level interview wherein a certain player is either forgotten, or mentioned and simultaneously discredited without reason. So here’s my second bomb-drop of the post: It is my opinion that Jeremy Evans is the best player on this Jazz team. And not because I don’t think they have other very, very good players.
Let that sit and fester for a bit. Now, before you never read anything from me again…
In residency I was taught to always be aware of my own biases. A well received paper on cognitive biases talked all about cautioning against heuristics. “Heuristic” means using personal experience to short cut the problem solving process. Heuristics are known to often lead to suboptimal solutions because objectivity is lost. The aforementioned publication talked of heuristic tendencies that trap E.R. physicians, and warned against awesomely named biases such as Ascertainment Bias, Visceral Bias, Sutton’s Slip, Overconfidence Bias, Diagnosis Momentum, Fundamental Attribution Error…there are thirty aptly named biases that I should be guarding against at all times while working. The take home lesson for my profession is this: just because that patient is an unpleasant, dishonest, ungrateful heroin addict with a very low IQ and an even lower tolerance for life doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an emergency medical condition like septic endocarditis. And I can’t expect to miss septic endocarditis without having to worry about the possibility of a career ending lawsuit. So I have to take that unpleasant person seriously.
Biases are everywhere. They are what makes the expression of unpopular opinions so dangerous to a person’s credibility. The movie “Warrior” is a perfect example. Ninety-five percent of people who hear my unpopular opinion about the movie probably laugh at how crazy it is, especially if they haven’t seen the movie. But before these people laugh, they would do well to evaluate all biases and understand how to disregard them. So, let’s evaluate some associated cognitive biases.
1) The MMA bias: The movie can’t be great because it’s about a fringe sport that is only respected by beer-guzzling meat heads.
2) The Campy Trailer Bias: “The two fighters facing off in the championship are brothers!” I laughed out loud at that line when I first saw that commercial, and thought that the movie looked pretty stupid. I don’t know who is responsible for making the trailer, but whoever it is, shame on them.
3) The Spielberg Bias: Steven Spielberg made Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List. Therefore, everything he makes should get an Oscar nomination. War Horse? Oscar nomination for best picture, even though it was tedious, boring and sappy. Warrior was made by some guy named Gavin. Must be dumb. It’s only big name actor, if you can call him that, is Nick Nolte. Who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Warrior, by the way.
4) The Guys Without Shirts On In The Movie Poster Bias: Quick, name one other good movie that has guys (plural, for all you Rocky III fans) without shirts on in the poster. One. Yeah, I thought so.
It is clear to me that heuristics killed the commercial potential of this movie. It’s funny to read critics’ evaluation of this movie, because most of them include words like “surprisingly.” They didn’t expect it to be any good. But it was good anyway. By the way, this post is not about “Warrior”, it’s about Jeremy Evans. Heuristics has suffocated Jeremy Evans. No one expected him to be any good, so he’s not. Right?
The Evans Bias
NBA execs would do well to come up with a list of thirty of their own potential cognitive bias pitfalls in regards to evaluating talent and player value. If they were to do so, my guess is that Jeremy Evans would be classified as a victim of about 27 out of the thirty. Let’s go through some of them.
1) The “Western” Bias: Everyone talks about East Coast Bias in college sports. College basketball takes it a step further. Putting the name “Western” in your school title basically means you will never be on TV anywhere, ever. What if Evans had played at Kentucky instead of Western Kentucky? He would have had block and rebound numbers that were in the same vicinity of Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis, all while maintaining his offensive fg% of 64%. He would have been seen on TV nationwide as a key player on the #1 seed in the biggest tourney in all of sports doing one of those monster blocks on one end and monster posterizings on the other, and scouts everywhere would have been salivating. Instead, he went to Crossett High School in Arkansas and was found by a college with the word “Western” in its name and no distributing point guard on its team. That school got an all time blocks leader, but almost no publicity.
2) The High Draft Number Bias: This happens every year. Some respected scout somewhere thinks that some dude is a great player and convinces the world and ESPN The Magazine and the Detroit Pistons that Darko Milicic is better than Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. And so, Darko gets a 10 year career and $53 million all while playing consistently worse than Kyrylo Fesenko. That really happened.
3) The Investment Bias: In some ways this melds into #2. It happens with all of us. We pay a lot for that thing we think will be a great thing, and when it isn’t, we still talk it up in hopes to make ourselves feel like we didn’t get ripped off. When a team invests in a player, they want to give that player every opportunity to make the organization look smart. So they spend extra time coaching that player, they advertise with that player’s face on a billboard, they give that player lots of playing time in hopes that he will turn into what they insisted he was worth. It starts from the top: the owner and GM of a team anoint a top five pick, and the coach Yes-Man’s that pick with playing time to show that he agrees with everything his boss is doing so he can get a contract renewal. Conversely, players who are paid less and drafted in the low second round have to consistently play three times better than a lottery pick before getting equal playing time. One bad pass in the summer league from an undrafted guy and he never sees the floor again. One bad pass from your high lotto pick and he gets 3 months with a personal specialized coach.
4) The George W. Bush Bias: Some people define themselves so widely and definitively that they have little hope of succeeding anywhere else. Take George W. He was the president defined by his questionable judgment and quotes like this: “Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” So when he started painting, “expert” critics wrote their reviews before seeing his work. Then someone at Vulture decided to brave out an unpopular opinion and admit that he’s actually pretty good. Now everyone else is agreeing. Poor Jeremy lives with a similar bias. He’s defined himself as a dunker. No one outside of Jazz Nation has seen him do anything else. Rewind to when he was drafted: he shows off his 5 foot vertical at practice and Coach only calls dunk plays for him forever more. He posterizes some dude on a Watson ally-oop and Bolerjack only says “that kid can jump out of the gym” and “it’s another Early-Oop” when talking about Evans forever more. He wins his first-ever dunk contest on national TV and no one even notices his painting at the second contest; he can’t possibly be a good painter because he only dunks! By extension, he can’t possibly have a good turnaround jump shot, he’s a specialist! Good at dunking, that’s all! Never mind that he actually made 100% of his shots from 5-9 feet away, 57% of his shots from 15-19 feet away last year, and 50% of shots from 15-24 feet away his rookie year. He can only make dunks, so that’s the only play anyone should run for him, and we should all refer to him as a specialist.
5) The Look Test Bias: I fear that the Jazz were victimized by this when they had Dennis Schroeder work out for them this year. Don’t get me wrong; I was excited that they traded up for Burke. But I think Perrin wasn’t very excited by Schroeder after seeing him in workouts, the same way his Nike Hoops Summit coach was underwhelmed by him when first seeing him. Until he played and consistently schooled some big names. I think Atlanta got the steal of the draft. If Schroeder’s look test is a C-, Evans’ is an F. Looks like a super skinny bamboo straw with no competitive drive because he talks really quiet. How could he ever defend at an elite level with the body of a string bean? Never mind that Nerlens Noel’s body mass index is actually lower than Jeremy’s, and he’s projected to be an elite defender. Jeremy went to a school with “Western” in its name, so he will never be able to defend big men despite his per-36 block numbers that rank top 3 in the NBA.
6) The Small Sample Size Stats Are Too Good Bias: Look, I’ve taken many upper level statistics classes in my day. I understand the letter “n”. A low “n” means you widen the standard deviation. Doesn’t mean you throw out the standard deviation. I’ve seen too many people do this with Jeremy. His stats are soooo good. They can’t be that good. So let’s throw them out because he hasn’t played much. Never mind adjusting down, because they’re still ridiculous. Let’s all just ignore them and we can go back to a world where numbers tell the story we think they should.
So the next time Walt Perrin refers to Gordon Hayward as “the oldest guy on the team,” let’s remember that Jeremy Evans is not only on the team, he is the most undeservedly slighted player on the team, and possibly in the NBA. I have written 1900 words and haven’t even gotten to the part where I present real evidence that Evans is an elite player. So I’ll have to do that in my “to be continued…” post. So, to be continued…
Many thanks to my faithful twitter followers, especially the readers who like to spread the word. If you aren’t already, be sure to follow @slcdunk, @UtahJazzPodcast, @Quinnurp7, @JazzNetworkStat, @McCadeP8, @lilbax, @jameson155, @UtahJazzTime, @UtahJazzAustin, @MarkPeacock11, and @MosesStone1980. RT this and I’ll include you in the credits section, join the Jazz community!
To the Fickle Fans
Watch the video. Now watch it again. And a third time. Spoiler alert: that tree is never coming down. Feels like watching the Jefferson-led Jazz the past three years, no? Now are you glad for the changes?
Back in April, I tweeted @GreginUtah the following: “I would buy season tix today if assured of this lineup next yr: 1-McCollum, 2-Burks, 3-Hayward, 4-Favors, 5-Kanter, 6-Evans”. Of course, I didn’t think Burke would be in the draft discussion, or I may have put him in McCollum’s spot. I also sent the tweet to a few radio guys, who responded back with a “you’re crazy for wanting Evans as a 6th man”. That’s a discussion for a different day. For today, I’m crazy like Dr. Strangelove. The end scene of this brilliant satire is perfectly fitting.
For those who don’t know: [scene] The U.S. has just inadvertently started a war that will end in nuclear holocaust. The president and his goons are sitting in a chair, defeated and devastated with what is coming, when a decrepit mysterious Dr Strangelove (the creator of the bomb that causes the holocaust) starts to explain why this is a good thing. He tells the president and his men that they will now get to live in glorious previously prepared underground shelter caves full of beautiful women and fine food and be prestigious beyond imagination as they start a new society of survivors, all of whom will share their superior genes and traits. They should be celebrating this turn of events!
What am I trying to say? That Dennis Lindsey is an evil dictator? Ty might think so. He’s the one in the contract year. And DL defied every rotation Ty used last year by letting all of Ty’s favorite besties walk and not getting a single starter-capable player in return. Ty might try to start one of these newbie Jazzmen anyway. Maybe Lowe will do Biedrins a solid and convince Ty to start him in return for tax evasion defense advice. After all, this story is too strange to be coincidental, given Lowe’s recent problems. “Andris, how did you decrease your penalty from 5 years in prison to just a $3,730.60 fine? Who’s your Latvian lawyer?” Another option Ty might try is to start one of the Jazz’ 42 stockpiled second round picks. Don’t know how that would work before they are actually picked, but I don’t know how a lot of things work in the new CBA world and they happen just the same.
Ty isn’t the only one that might think Lindsey is out to play Wiggins Powerball at his expense. Apparently, lots of fans are irate about our poor showing for all the money and cap space we had this summer. People seem to ignore the fact that taking expensive one year contracts for washed up players from Golden State is the only way we see the youth start; we are able to meet the league team salary minimum, but Ty has no one to go to but the young players. It’s just like that scene in Moneyball when Brad Pitt asks Phillip Seymour Hoffman to bench their star, and when he refuses, Brad picks up the phone and trades the star in his face. Dennis Lindsey is Brad Pitt. He’s not tanking. He thinks we have players that are more likely to help us win now, and he’s forcing Ty’s hand. So, is he right? Are these young five more likely to win now than Al et al? Let’s take a closer look using full per 36 min stats.
The Starting Five
1. Trey Burke. This is the biggest question mark. How does anyone know how good he will be? He had a stellar college career, was the consensus player of the year (although that hasn’t been a portent for NBA greatness), is a good shooter and passer, and plays smart. Summer league hasn’t been kind to him, but that’s no portent for NBA greatness either. It’s a valid question to ask whether he will be better than Mo as a starter. But I’ll take that bet. Besides, if he doesn’t work out, we have Neto to fall back on. And after watching those summer league head-fakes and teardrops, I’m fairly certain Neto’s going to kill it in the NBA.
2. Alec Burks. He averaged 17 minutes per game last year, much of it spent learning point guard. His per 36 line: 14 pts, 4.6 rebs, 2.8 ast, 42%/36%/71%. Doesn’t knock your socks off at first glance. His intangibles tell a better story. He’s a rebounding guard. Despite playing “out of position”, his +/- was +3.1, which speaks volumes to his defense. And he’s a go to scorer. I could just say that and expect you to believe me. Or I could show you this: +26.3. That’s his +/- in the last 5 minutes of games within 5 points. His 3pt shooting goes up to 50% in clutch situations, and his offensive rebound rate doubles. The guy is the definition of a clutch player, and the Jazz need a clutch player. Also, his parents sit a few rows in front of mine at home games. It’s awesome to watch them cheer for their kid. He’s a keeper.
3. Gordon Hayward. Per 36: 17.4 pts, 3.8 rebs, 3.7 ast, 44%/42%/82%. Those are very impressive small forward numbers. He’s a top tier 3 pt threat, a good defender and a high character guy you can count on. His +/- is +1.8, goes up to +9.2 in clutch situations, mostly because of his defense. Hayward is destined to be compared to Paul George for the rest of his career, which is fair because they were drafted near each other and play a similar game, and George is now an all-star. Guess who’s advanced stats are better? Here is Hayward’s shooting and scoring efficiency (.501/1.31) compared to George’s (.491/1.17). Not bad.
4. Derrick Favors. Per 36: 14.6pts, 11reb (3.7 off), 48%/68%, 2.6 blocks. Yes, 2.6 blocks. That’s good for 3rd best in the NBA. He invokes fear in opponents. My favorite play ever from Favors happened just over a year ago in the playoffs vs San Antonio. Parker whipped a perfect pass to Splitter on a break who was wide open under the basket. Splitter turned around as he went up for the layup and saw that the closest defender was Favors, who was still a full 10 feet away. But because of past run-ins with Derrick, Tiago freaked and passed the ball back out because he was worried that he was going to get stuffed. That’s how Favors’ defense changes games. If Favors improves his offensive game and brings down his turnovers, he’s among the best big men in the league. Interestingly, his +/- is basically even (likely a reflection of playing next to Jefferson so much), but in the clutch it’s +22. And let’s not forget that his offense is going to improve in triplicate now that Karl Malone is mentoring him. Right?
5. Enes Kanter. Per 36: 16.9pts, 10.2reb (4.5 off), 55%/100%/80%, 1.1 blocks. If Favors’ per 36 is really good, Kanter’s is great, showing tremendous offensive efficiency and potential. His +/- is a stellar +3.8, and goes up to an obscene but admittedly skewed +56 in the clutch. And his defense is not talked about enough, as he posts a solid 98.2 defensive rating (for reference, Tim Duncan’s is better by only 1, at 97.1; Al’s was 107.6). Did you notice that “100% from 3″ number? He took one 3 and made it. I’m confident this is no aberration. Most don’t know that he made 14 of 25 threes at his combine, and apparently it’s a thing for him to drain 3′s at practice with range reportedly all the way out to half court. Laugh now, but we might discover Kanter’s stretch 5 ability this year. Overall, Enes has a huge opportunity to become Most Improved Player and projects to be an all-star very soon. If he gets 36 minutes per game, the MIP award is his.
+ +/- = Wins
What is the take home here? Not counting the point guard whom we can’t yet evaluate, every player the Jazz will start next year has a (in most cases largely) positive +/-. Starters on the Jazz last year? Mo was -1.3, Foye was -1.0, Marv was -1.3, Al was -2.0, Paul was 0.0. Hmm. Why were they the starters again? It’s not like any other bending of those guys’ numbers tell a different story. The starters last year simply played worse than their replacements. Now, this isn’t a slam dunk case. The youngs may have been playing against lesser competition, we may be worse this year because our bench may be terrible, injuries may kill this new team for lack of depth. But to me, at least on paper, this youth experiment is not anything like the tank job fans are making it out to be. Instead, it’s a ride into the future with more talented players getting more playing time, supplemented by a whole lot of future draft pick assets and salary cap space. We should be celebrating this turn of events.
Riding the Trade Bomb
So go ahead, Ty. Hop on that nuclear warhead and ride it off into the brave new world of the unknown. Chances are, things will turn out better for you. Or do you want to try this again?
I want to thank those who left comments on the last post, especially with the Cinderella comparison. Very insightful post. Thanks Dad. Also, if you twitter users aren’t following @MosesStone1980, he’s a great friend of mine and an awesome follow, you won’t regret it. Also take a look at @UtahJazzAustin, @TeamTreyBurke, @LilBax, @nsanba, @MarkPeacock11, @spaffoo, @saltcityhoops, @slcdunk, @Peter_J_Novak, @AllThatAmar and @davidjsmith. All must follows if you are a Jazz fan.
So, I have a Pass of all Passes. I think they’re a great deal. You get all sorts of stuff for really cheap. One day I used the Fun Center tokens that came with the pass to play this game where you hit a button to stop a light on a certain spot to try to win a jackpot. Because I have the reflexes of a lynx, I kept winning. It was the stuff dreams are made of; my wife admiring my skills, a thousand kids wandering over to see what the commotion was, watching with eyes wide as saucers as tickets kept coming and coming. I kept having to call the manager lady over to refill the ticket dispenser. I eventually stopped playing, but not before winning 800 tickets, which is enough to buy a squirt gun and a few Laffy Taffys. The whole thing is a great deal. I like deals, they make me happy. Jazz management, pay attention. People like deals. Deals make people happy. So, on to free agency, where we hope the Jazz get incredible, no regrets, 800 tickets with free tokens type deals.
My Three Point Shooter Fetish
Look, the Jazz tried last year. They brought in three new players who shot 40% from 3. How could they know then that one would sit out most of the year and have a penchant for hero ball once healthy, one would play injured and need foot surgery, and one would be streaky and a poor defender? I love San Antonio’s style. Ever notice how virtually all of their players shoot 40% from 3? I mean, all of them. Neal, Green, Parker, Leonard, Bonner, Ginobili, Mills, Diaw…it borders on ridiculous. So, they throw it in to their HOFer, who either scores or throws it back out, where the ball is hot potatoed around the horn until someone is open. This is Popovich’s coaching plan, and it works. Why can’t Utah do that? Let’s get stacked outside.
Deal Number One
Let’s make a deal. Look at these numbers of 5 shooters. Spoiler alert: one of these players could be an incredible deal.
Player A Player B Player C Player D Player E
’12-’13 3pt% .410 .419 .457 .453 .406
Career 3pt% .377 .401 .419 .446 .337
’12-13 Shooting Eff .518 .555 .618 .548 .603
Career Shooting Eff .482 .530 .555 .549 .524
’12-13 Scoring Eff 1.195 1.326 1.348 1.287 1.504
The reveal: A = Randy Foye, B = Ray Allen, C = Kyle Korver, D = Steph Curry, E = LeBron James. So, outside of Curry’s short career 3pt% and the obvious Lebron scoring efficiency superiority (which is almost unfair to include, although Korver’s this year came close to LeBron’s career #), every one of Korver’s shooting and scoring numbers are better than these other four. In many cases, not by a little. Surprise you? It did me, since Ray Allen is often called the best shooter in the game, with only Steph Curry contending the title if you watch Sportscenter. Tell me, is Curry a max value player? So how much is Korver worth? His true shooting percentage was 4th in the NBA this year. His points per possession on spot ups was 7th in the NBA. His Hawks team was 8 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the floor, despite his lower usage rate. He screens and cuts as good as anyone on offense, he has a high IQ for the game, he excels at spacing, and he works hard on defense.
Kyle Korver loved his time here. Everyone in Utah loved Kyle’s time here. And Kyle wants to come back. In February this year he said he “loves coming back to Utah for a lot of reasons. I still have a lot of friends here, a lot of good memories…it’s always good to come back in Utah.” Later that day he looked right at the camera to proclaim “I am a free agent this summer – free agent this summer! I mean, yeah, I would definitely listen to Utah if they came asking…it was just a great place to live life and play basketball.” Utah loves players who love Utah. And Kyle made it very clear that he loves Utah. The benefits of having him are endless. His jerseys sell like wildfire. He made my wife want to watch Jazz games with me. Corbin said he was easy to work with from a coaching standpoint. He made my wife want to watch Jazz games with me. While he was here, he started an awesome division of his charity foundation called the SEER group, which installs wheelchair ramps for Utah residents in need. He made my wife want to watch Jazz games with me. This is a deal that needs to happen. Bring @KyleKorver back, @GregInUtah.
Deal Number 2
I love international players, and we need a veteran point guard who can pass and shoot. There’s only one thing to do, then: bring back Carlos Arroyo! He’s playing in Turkey, where the Jazz are classified as a celebrity organization, so they can just go get him on the cheap.
Ok, so there’s another player that would fit the mold that I could be happy with. Much has been made of Jose Calderon’s potential fit in Utah. Let’s take a closer look. Do you know who led the league in 3 point shooting this year? Hint: it was Calderon. Who holds the NBA record for free throw shooting? Hint: Calderon does, shooting 98.1% in 2008-09. Ever heard of the 50-40-90 club? There are 6 people in the history of the NBA that are in (Bird, Nash, Durant, Nowitzki, Price, Miller – all HOFers). Calderon just missed it twice, both on technicalities (not enough FT attempts by a few one year, and .003 under 50% the other). The guy can shoot.
How about passing? Calderon has led the NBA in assist to turnover ratio in 3 of the past 5 years. He’s been a top five assist point guard. He’s the Toronto Raptors all time assist leader. He is accurate and smart. He sees the floor well and runs an offense as good as anyone.
Does this make him sound like a high dollar guy? Does a 50-40-90 point guard who leads the league in A:T deserve more money than, say, Mo or Marvin Williams? Because he isn’t going to get it. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press believes his new contract will be for 6-7 million a year. Wow. True, he’s over 30, but still. Wow. Slam that big red button and throw it in the banker’s face, it’s a deal. Do what it takes to get this guy, Dennis Lindsay. This would make me very happy.
This one is perhaps my favorite. Not because he’s the best player of the three, but because he’s so much a Jazz type guy. Not talked about, worked his way into the league, finally made an NBA team and *surprise* he can really shoot. Sound like any other feel good stories, Danny Green lovers? How many of you remember Chris Copeland?
Let me remind you. He’s a 29 year old 6’9″ rookie stretch four, played in the D league and Europe, and was given a chance with the Knicks this last year. He also has dreads. And what has this past basketball year proven, if anything? That dreads = undervalued. Just think about it: Kahwi Leonard, Kenneth Faried, and our very own Demarre Carroll. There’s no way you can pay too much for a player with dreads. New York has made public that they really want to resign this dread head, but they don’t have cap space to offer what he’s worth. What is he worth?
I remember last summer listening to David Locke salivate over Ersan Ilyasova, and rightly so. He’s a tall stretch four who can really shoot. He makes around 8 million/yr. He plays like…Copeland. Copeland averages 20pts and 5 boards per 36 minutes, shooting 48%, and 42% from 3, which improved to 48% from three the last few months of the year. Every time he played, he sparked the Knicks’ offense, despite not being the “go to” guy. The Knicks were 12 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the floor. He was rookie of the month in April, he’s got a serious motor, and he influences games every time his number is called. It’s just, for some reason, Woodson didn’t call his number much in the playoffs. I don’t know why anyone would not call on a talented big man to play (I know, Jeremy…I feel your pain). Copeland is expected to get offers around 4mill/yr, mostly because he’s a sophomore. He’s worth double that. Let’s get this one. Besides, I really want to hear Bolerjack use the nickname “Judge Dredd” when calling games with Copeland.
The Big Picture
So this is my game plan for putting an offensive juggernaut on the floor every night. Calderon/rookie at point, Burks/Hayward/Foye at the 2, Korver/Copeland/Hayward at the 3, Favors/Evans/Copeland at the 4, and Kanter/Favors/rookie at the 5. Who are opposing teams going to decide to leave open? Talk about stretching the floor. I haven’t even mentioned how I think Kanter will eventually turn into a 3 pt threat (it’s not crazy). Look out, NBA. Your newer, younger Spurs team is in town.
I hope everyone who has gone to school in this fine country has had a “Stand and Deliver” moment. I know I have. Mine came as a college freshman. My economics professor split us all into groups, then told us we had a thousand dollars of fake money to invest into 6 stocks he had picked for us, in whatever way we wanted. If our group had earned the most money by the end of the semester, we would get an “A”, no questions asked. He said there was one caveat. We had to outperform him. He then pulled out a dartboard, with the six stocks divided up on it, and threw a dart. The dart landed on “Disney”, so he said he was putting all his money into Disney. Well, come the end of the semester, Disney’s stock had gained the most, so he outperformed all of us, and our countless hours spent researching trends and numbers and meticulously dividing potential stock values were all for naught. Lesson learned. A dartboard is always smarter than me.
And so, as I do with all the important decisions I’ve had to make since then, I pulled out the dartboard to ask it what Utah should do at 14. I included 6 possible picks: Michael Carter Williams, Dennis Schroeder, Shane Larkin, Shabazz Mohammed, Kelly Olynyk, and Jamaal Franklin. The Dart of Fate landed on Schroeder. Nailed it. I’m putting all my money on Schroeder.
Every sports fan loves numbers, because everyone knows that numbers tell the future. So, in case you aren’t as convinced as I am that the dartboard knows best, here is my evidence in the form of hard numbers and complex equations:
-((population of native country x % likelihood of ethnic gene pool producing LBJ type athlete x % interest in basketball over soccer + ability of native press to get name out) x (number of foreign countries in the world)) / (population of USA x % bias towards our own players + coolness factor since we invented basketball)= Dennis Schroeder! This is my IPR (International Prospect Ratio), my equivalent of PER or Locke Offensive Rating. Should be really useful for Lindsay/KOC.
-6’7.25″ wingspan, 10.5″ hand width. For perspective on the wingspan: Olynyk is almost a foot taller than Schroeder, but his wingspan is only about two inches longer than Schroeder’s. For perspective on the hand size, try doing this: put the palm of your hand up to your nose, and attempt to plug both ears with your pinky and thumb. Are people looking at you strangely? More importantly, can you do it? ‘Cause I bet Schroeder can. His hands were 5th biggest among ALL players at the combine, including centers. Can you spell s-t-e-a-l-s?
- (315,989,702) / (7,089,873,510) = 4% = Percentage of people in the world who are U.S. citizens. Leaving 96% of all people to live somewhere else. Maybe there’s a point guard from that 96% that is better than the four PGs currently valued higher that come from the 4%? Maybe, just maybe, we undervalue the best international point guard prospect since Tony Parker because he hasn’t played in a U.S. college?
-18 pts, 6 asts, 50% floor, 50% 3pt, 7/10 FT, 28min: Schroeder’s Nike Hoops Summit stat line. Many people said he looked like the best player on the floor, cutting through defenses effortlessly. Who else was on the floor? Only all the players that are supposed to make next year’s draft the best draft in ten years, including Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, and Andrew Harrison. Each of those guys are projected as potential franchise changers. But Schroeder was the standout.
Hoopsmack gave him an “A” grade, saying he “100% controlled the game…commanded the game…showing a lot of Tony Parker…the U.S. was unable to effectively press Schroeder to any effect”. All the more impressive because he couldn’t speak the same language as his teammates. He had to grab Wiggins’ jersey at one point to call a play for him, and still finished with 6 assists in 28 minutes. The great thing is, it wasn’t just the game. His coach talked about how Schroeder stood out all week at practice.
My favorite quote from the coach? “His on the ball defense is probably the best I’ve seen at this event in three years.” Excuse my salivating. PS: the international team won pretty easily. Yeah, the ones from the 96%.
-17.3pts, 44% FG, 40% 3pt, 53% spot up shooting, 84% FT, 3.6 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.3 SPG. Schroeder’s per 36min stats in his pro euro league as an 18 year old.
-10 billion dollars = my projection of the Jazz’ increased market value due to overseas expansion when taking on a potential German All-star, especially with Nowitzki’s retirement looming. My example: I was in Turkey last year on vacation. I asked almost everyone I met there if they knew Kanter, and no exaggeration, all of them were Kanter fans and all of them knew he played for the Utah Jazz. Some of these people couldn’t understand English, but when they heard me say “Kanter” they would give me a high five. This is at a time when Enes was playing 2.3 minutes per game and picked up in 1% of fantasy basketball leagues. It was the same response with Okur. There are so many Jazz fans in Turkey that I bet the organization could solve the country’s current political unrest by sending Malone over there, Rodman style, to call for peace. Still not sold on the overseas market? Just consider Yao Ming’s all star vote numbers while he wasn’t playing. Or just take it from the Germans: “der jüngste deutsche ALLSTAR aller Zeiten”. Pretty sure that sums it up.
A Long Term View
Everyone should take a look at the big picture when evaluating a potential draft pick. We should be asking ourselves, “Can I see him as the next Stockton? Can I see him starting a car dealership with a teammate?” Well, how does Dennis to Enes Kia sound? These guys were made for each other. Imagine Locke screaming “Dennis to Enes with the flush at the other end!!!” It couldn’t be more perfect. They are sure to be best friends for their entire lives. Road trips together, teaching each other their native languages, getting in thumb wars over Jamba Juices and then embracing each other with their huge arms and hands in a jolly bro hug! That’s how I see it happening. And that’s how my dartboard sees it happening. So let’s hope that’s how the Jazz organization sees it happening. Here’s hoping we bring home the German.
From Me to Karl
Karl, I owe you an apology. I think I was too hard on you with my last post. Since learning you were going to be a part time coach, I’ve read up on some things you’ve said in the past, and my eyes have been opened to your wisdom. If I could, I would like to recycle some actual quotes of yours and turn them into teaching tidbits you will be able to use to instruct our current Utah Jazz big men. Here is how I see your advice being distributed…
From Karl to Ty (Coach Corbin qualifies as a big man, right?)
“I ain’t gonna be no escape-goat.”
Now, I’m not exactly sure what an escape goat is. But if it’s anything like the mud-covered escape pig that a friend of mine had to wrestle down and dump into a barrel in under 1 minute to win some sort of backwards redneck contest last year, I wouldn’t want to be one either. I think Ty would benefit from being told to use this as his personal mantra. I’m afraid he may feel like he’s being set up this year. The front office is going to ship out all of his favorite players, after all, leaving him with a bunch of kids who can’t legally rent a car to try to play some semblance of basketball, so the team will tank and get a great pick in the stacked lottery next year. My blood is boiling just thinking of it! This leaves Ty high and dry with a losing record and a terminated contract! So, new mantra for Coach Corbin: don’t be an escape goat.
From Karl to Marvin
“It’s a hard road to hoe.”
Excellent analogy here, Karl. I can’t think of anything that would be harder to hoe than a one thousand mile slab of tarry asphalt. And giving Marvin this nugget of inspiration may help him get through this next brutal 6 month stretch of surgery, rehab, and trying to work back into the rotation after getting his achilles fixed. Of course, that cool 7.5 million he gets while he’s doing all that isn’t so bad. Maybe you could change the quote to “It’s a hard road to backhoe”. You know, still hard labor, but at least you can do it during working hours and then come home to some lemonade afterwards.
From Karl to Derrick
“Starting off my career, I wasn’t a good free throw shooter, and I worked at it and worked at it, and now I want to go up there and shoot free throws, and now…it’s kind of mind-boggling, when you think about how many guys have played the game…when I finish playing and I look back on it, I think it’ll be huge. Right now I’m still playing the game, it’s kind of tough to really stop and think about it.”
Great piece of motivation, this is sure to help Derrick want to continue to improve on his free throws and his form and…I’m getting a little hungry…I can’t remember if I took the garbage out last night…Sometimes when I look up at the stars, I think to myself, what if I were transported to the very edge of space a trillion kajillion miles away, then I tried to travel past the edge, faster than space could expand, what would happen? Would I hit an invisible wall, or would I create more space, or would I cause a space-time paradox nexus and cause everything to suddenly zap away in a great flash of light? It’s kind of mind boggling. Anyway, what was I talking about? Sometimes I lose focus. Good thing you’re more focused than I am, Coach Karl.
From Karl to Jeremy
“I might teach him to kick his legs out so the guy don’t take a charge, and if he do take one, he won’t take another one. I might teach him that.”
Jeremy will definitely benefit from learning to play dirty. Not that you ever played dirty, I know you didn’t. But you learned how one might have played dirty by watching other players (cough cough). And it would be helpful for Jeremy to learn how to stop being so nice. So, besides the charge-and-roundhouse, here’s a list of other moves to teach Jeremy: 1) The Sambo Arm Tear, 2) The Street Fighter Ryu Shoryuken Dragon Punch, 3) The Tyson Ear Chomp, and 4) The Blackmail-Coach-Into-Playing-Me-Because-I’m-Actually-One-Of-The-Best-Players-On-The-Team move.
From Karl to Enes
“I just work out hard enough that, if I’m craving something, I eat it and know I’m going to burn it off the next day with extra intensity.”
This is perfect advice for Enes, Karl. Everyone knows that Enes won “The Biggest Loser: NBA Edition” last summer. But he did it the wrong way. Apparently, he decided not to eat what he was craving any more. All he ever craved was a six-egg omelet and eight pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream and a burrito for breakfast; chicken alfredo pasta, five whoppers and an extra large mounds’o'butter shake for lunch; and the flank of a whale shark for dinner. If only he had just decided to “burn it off with extra intensity” instead, he would have been fine. From now on, shedding that extra poundage will taste better to Enes than a dressing free salad. And for that, Enes thanks you, Karl, and invites you to join him down at the playboy mansion this summer.
From Karl to Carlos
“Now, don’t you lie to me!”
Wait, is Boozer still on the team? I can never remember, he’s never been one to come to practice or games, he seems to always have some sort of injury. Anyway, I was listening to the strange conversation you had a few months ago with Charles Barkley about where he kept his vasoline stashed during games (huh?), and I think you could recycle this accusation. I would love for you to call out Carlos on that fractured hand he got to start the 2010 season. Everyone knows he was lying about how he did it, right? Everyone knows you can’t get a boxer’s fracture by tripping over a gym bag and falling. But you can get a boxer’s fracture by becoming enraged about something and then taking that rage out by violently sucker punching the wall, or the door, or another person. Everyone knows that, right?
From Karl to Karl
“Oh no, no. We done been there. You can’t beat the fart out of a dead mule. Let’s pass on that. They ain’t gonna call.” (when asked if he would be offered a coaching gig with the Jazz)
Yes, Karl, we all know your secret. The secret that you are actually two people in one. This is the only rational explanation for why you refer to yourself in the third person. This might also explain why 1) it turns out you actually can beat the fart out of a dead mule, 2) you still got that call, and 3) you and your other you have both “done been there”.
From Karl to Me
“My attitude has done a complete 360.”
As has mine. So we’re back to where we started. You are back with the Jazz. And I am back to feeling glad I get to hear from you again. Thank you, Karl.
Sometimes you know someone is watching over you. Like when you decide to start a Utah Jazz blog, and Karl Malone announces he is going to be a coach for the team that same day. I am blessed.
Karl Malone is a Skookie. Don’t ever tell him I called him that (as he’s MUCH bigger than me). Let me explain.
On February 15, 2013, Mr Malone spent some time on TNT captivating a nationwide audience with his shining personality during All-Star weekend. During the broadcast, he basically begged the Jazz uppers to call him and offer him a coaching job. He even went so far as to provide the equivalent of a 30 day money back guarantee. I believe Karl said he didn’t understand why he’s never been called, that the Jazz could try him out as coach and if he didn’t work out, he wouldn’t even ask to be paid. Something like that. It was about that time that my mind began to wander. What great things have I purchased that came with 30 day money back guarantees? First thing to come to mind were all my “As Seen On TV” products. Things like my Skookie, my Egg Genie, and my Big City Slider Station.
Let me tell you about my Big City Slider Station. I loved the idea of having a way to make my very own sliders. I once went on a spur of the moment weekend road trip with some friends to go to the White Castle in Chicago and guzzle down as many of those greasy cancer bombs as I could eat, and cancer bombs never tasted so good. So, when the chance came for me to own a slider maker, why, I grabbed that chance by the horns, taking comfort in the fact that I could get my money back in 30 days if I didn’t use it. Well, I used it. Once, when my wife and I had family over to watch a sporting event of some kind. The sliders were great. But since that day, the Big City Slider Station has been riding the cupboard pine. I never took it back. I missed that window, and it is destined to take up space forevermore.
The Allegory Completed
I bet Karl has some fantastic advice to give. Advice you couldn’t find very many other places. I’m sure that Greg Miller couldn’t resist that money back guarantee. Who can? We all bite on those late night commercials at one time or another, right? But here’s the catch: none of us ever send the thing back. We use it once, enjoy it, then realize that we bought a novelty appliance. But if we aren’t careful, that novelty appliance will get comfortable riding the pine, taking up space, trying to entice us into regular use. Which could cause cancer. And by that time, it’s too late for us to ask for our money back.
Truth is, I have two Skookies. I’ve never used either one. But, I’m afraid Karl is like my Skookie, or my Egg Genie, or my Big City Slider Station. Useful enough to make me think I need it, but really just a novelty that will end up wasting money and space.
So, my name is DoctaJ. Spoiler alert: that’s not my real name, it’s an alias that I came up with 2 seconds ago. I’ve learned from extensive blog reading that if you are to write a successful blog, you must have a killer alias. I’ll probably change it later.
I really want to share my thoughts on the Utah Jazz in a public forum that is widely read. So I thought I would start by sharing them in a sort of public forum that is narrowly read. Thanks for reading, person that is included in my definition of narrow! I might also write occasionally about other interests of mine, such as medicine, family, music, movies, poor customer service, et al. But I will mostly write about the Jazz.
I’m a doctor. I’ve clogged the hole in a gunshot victim’s skull with my right index finger to keep brains from spilling out. I’ve thrust my arms into a guy’s chest and pumped his open heart with my bare hands to try to keep him alive. Now you have to trust and respect me.
I always thought that if I ever became a doctor, I could just say “Trust me, I’m a doctor” and I would qualify for things. Well, it didn’t work out that way. I’m probably disrespected more often in a day than 90% of other bloggers with equally stupid aliases, and they all deal with comment sections. Truth be told, most of my shifts in the E.R. include at least one junkie telling me where to go after I tell them I won’t “push that one pain killer that starts with a ‘d’ and chase it with some phenergan.” Some will then leave me a hate note scrawled out on a paper towel before storming out to doctor shop elsewhere. It’s usually not that glamorous, and not that respected. So that unfortunately doesn’t qualify me for much.
My Real Qualifications
I have no real basketball experience. Why does that qualify me? Because I’m like most readers of basketball fan blogs. Hopefully I can express what most readers think, and provide a forum for real fan expression.
I must insert a disclaimer. I do have some experience with basketball. When I lived in the Great Midwest, I once coached a church ball team to a regional tournament victory. Of course, I was only the coach because we didn’t have one until I separated my shoulder and couldn’t play, but I still wanted to come to the games. And we only won because we had this really good player who wasn’t a member of our congregation but played pick up ball with us on Saturdays, and he had lots of really tall, really good friends that he invited to the tournament. And my stellar coaching mind prompted me to play those guys all the time, and sub in the rest of the guys here and there once we were ahead by 20.
Oh, I also was on a church ball team in Virginia that placed second in the regional tournament. We lost our first game, then made a magical Butler/Hayward type run, winning something like 8 games in a row and winning the championship game. Then we were told we had to play the championship game again because they hadn’t lost before that game and we had. By this time, most of our team was crawling up and down the court, since it was our tenth game of the day. We lost, and I have never experienced cramps like I did that day. I now know what tetanus feels like. I was drinking pickle juice for a week to try to recover.
I don’t want to read comments on my posts that say nonsense things like “Idiot…you obviously have no basketball experience…go spend some time drinking from the toilet of your miserable stupidity…” Because this is the point. Most people do not have legitimate, NBA coach qualifying experience. But we are fans. We are consumers of the product. And we have the right to our opinions because we are the ones who matter. Am I an armchair quarterback/point guard/Ty Corbin? Yes. And I go to games. And that makes my comments legitimate. So my hope is that we fans can share our legitimate comments respectfully, in hopes that corporate Jazz Brass take notice of the hopes of the customers they are trying to win over.
So let’s get started!