In the late innings of any close baseball game, most managers will decide to bring in the bazooka, the big-gun, the flame-throwing relief pitcher who can make opponents quake in their cleats. He is the hired-gun, the specialist and it’s his job to come in and close out the game with a wicked curve or slider or unleash the 100 mph heater. He is known as The Closer. I am not talking about the retail world’s version of The Closer. You know the slimy dude with slicked-back hair smelling of Aqua Velva that sweet-talked you into the rust-proofing and undercoating on that ’93 used Taurus or a 4-year extended warranty on a toaster. I am referring to the alpha-male man’s man with icy Gatorade running through his veins, who wants the ball in his hands in the game’s closing moments.
In basketball, usually the best players start the game and play the majority of the time and usually there has been no clear-cut basketball equivalent to The Closer, until now. For the Utah Jazz, Kyle Korver is The Closer. Instead of hurling split-fingered fastballs from 60 feet, he is dropping 3’s unconsciously from 23-feet-9 inches away. In the place of the 100 mph heat, he is sealing wins by nailing 90% of his free-throws. Even if his shot is not on, he is making the defense come out to guard him which opens up the middle for Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. He is the zone-buster.
Although he usually plays the second quarter and helps start a few good runs, it has been the fourth quarter which he owns. Rewind back to December when the Jazz lost 11 games and I bet the Jazz only lose a few of them with Korver in a Jazz uniform in that fourth quarter. Since his arrival, the Jazz are on a 20-5 tear and he has just nailed big shot after big shot.
If possible, the Jazz should borrow one more thing from baseball to raise the roof even higher in the ESA: the theme song. When Trevor Hoffman, the closer of the San Diego Padres and the all-time leader in saves leaves the bullpen and begins to head onto the field, the Padres’ P.A. announcer begins blaring the slow rhythmic gong…gong…gong from AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells and the crowd goes absolutely nuts. Mariano Rivera enters Yankee Stadium to Metallica’s Enter Sandman and the Dodger’s Eric Gagne enters the field to the Axl Rose wail that begins Welcome to the Jungle.
Korver needs a theme song, some bass-thumping, hard-pounding, blood-pumping, stadium-rocking anthem that puts the crowd over the edge and puts the sound at unsafe decibel levels. I think they could borrow from Hoffman. Just imagine the closing minutes of a game 7 with the Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Jerry Sloan calls a timeout and The Closer walks slowly on to the court and it starts… “gong…gong…gong.. I’m rolling thunder…a pouring rain…I’m coming on like a hurricane…” It would be crazy.