‘Answering the Page’ (Don Grayston - NBAE/Getty Images)
The following is a rebuttal to my own airing of grievances, of a couple of weeks ago. Here is my list of the Top 10 Best Moves the Jazz made since moving to Utah.
1. (tie) “I was never big on creeds” While Seinfeld’s Newman might not have lived by the mailman’s creed, Karl Malone always did. Whether he was rasslin’ with Rodman or referring to himself in the third person, Karl Malone always had to do what Karl Malone had to do, which was score a lot of points. The part-time actor, body-builder, exercise maven and long-haul trucker ended his career with more points in NBA history than every other player not named Kareem. Not bad for the 13th pick out of Louisiana Tech and he sure made the ‘city of Utah’ proud.
1. (tie) Sweet Sixteen! The Jazz draft a relatively unknown choirboy named John Stockton with the 16th pick of the 1984 draft. Over his stellar career, the Great Pasty One gaveth (15,806 assists) and he taketh away (3265 steals) but can you imagine him without Malone? That would be like Siegfried without Roy or Milli without Vanilli.
3. Would you like the undercoating with that new Collective Bargaining Agreement? While car dealer Larry H Miller has had plenty of critics over the years, one thing is perfectly clear, without Larry there is no Utah Jazz. There would be no Delta Center (or EnergySolutions Arena) no Jazz dancers and no man in a mangy carnivore suit shooting silly-string and t-shirt missiles from point-blank range. Larry stepped up and rescued the franchise when Sam Battistone was ready to sell to out-of-town investors. The Jazz would now be in Vegas, Minnesota or Miami, and I doubt TRAX would have extended that far. Without the Jazz, Larry Miller would be Ken Garff and instead of the EnergySolutions Arena, there would be a strip mall full of pawn shops, bail bondsmen and methadone clinics.
4. Yo! Adrian! He still gets no respect Adrian Dantley, the 6-foot 5 inch guard/forward with the girls name and a manly man’s ability to score, averaged over 24 points a game and a .540 field goal percentage for over 15 seasons. He was the Utah Jazz for many years. He finally got his jersey hung in the rafters in ESA, 20 years after he last wore that Jazz jersey. A.D. not in the Hall of Fame is a travesty. There must not be any room for the 18th leading scorer in NBA history out of 258 individuals currently enshrined. Who votes for the Hall of Fame you ask? A secretive screening committee led by Carrot Top, David Hasselhoff and a tipsy Paula Abdul is my best guess.
5. Good Will Hunting for a championship banner. Deron Williams drove the Jazz to the edge of the finals in his first full year as starting point-guard and he got better with every playoff series. Larry knows he’s going to have to back up the Brinks truck to Deron’s backdoor and throw in a few Lexus dealerships to keep him here. I am not going to fully relax until Deron has signed the bottom line on that long-term max deal. D-Will is the future of the franchise as long as they can keep him happy.
6. “It was 20 years ago today, Jerry Sloan taught his team to play. They’ve been going in and out of style, but they’re guaranteed to raise a smile”. Unlike Sgt. Pepper, Jerry has had more than his share of critics (including yours truly at times). Over time, I came to see how Jerry helps make good players great. He takes teams full of low draft picks and other team’s castoffs, runs the pick and roll into the ground, yet he still finds ways to beat more talented teams filled with lottery picks. We’ll agree to disagree on some things, but you can’t deny his record and his success.
7. Utahns Love Booze! When Kevin O’Conner and the Jazz Punked the Cavs on the Carlos Boozer deal, all that was missing was Ashton Kutcher running out and laughing in Cleveland’s general manager Jim Paxson’s face. The Cavs messed up big time by not locking up Carlos to a long-term deal when they had the chance. The bamboozlement for Boozer gave the Jazz as close to a reincarnation of Malone that anyone can ask for. While no one will ever replace the Stockton-to-Malone legacy, the Williams-to-Boozer legacy is just getting cranked up.
8. Philadelphia Freedom Philly, the city of brotherly love and home of the 76ers, shows Jazz fans the love by giving us Jeff Hornacek for Jeff Malone and a draft pick. Horny, originally shipped to Philly in the Charles Barkley trade, was able to escape an awful 76ers team and become a huge cog in the Jazz machine of the late 90s. Things get even worse for Philadelphia fans, already depressed by their city’s sports teams, when they realize their bell has a crack in it.
9. From Russia with Love…gone bad. When our Russian diva Andrei Kirilenko is on, his stat sheets look like a pro-bowlers score sheet. In the history of the NBA only AK has had a five-by-six night, in regulation play (at least 6 each of all five stats -points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals). And only Hakeem Olajuwon and Andrei have had multiple five-by-five games.10. “He’s the one they call Dr. Dunkenstein. He’s the one that make you feel alright.” When the Jazz drafted the high-flyin’ Louisville Slammer Darrell Griffith, he gave the Jazz instant offense. Griffith teamed with Dantley to lead the Jazz into the beginning of their long playoff run in 1984. His monster dunks brought in the fans and the playoff run made the team legit.