Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the vast spoils of jazz nation

not to imply that i have something beyond a man-crush on chris conley, but when it comes to a certain pop-punk/emo/post-genre outfit from princeton, NJ and their constant re-defining of their sound, i can only quote from the ubiquitous brokeback mountain: i can't quit you, saves the day.

after the all-star weekend and yesterday's news of 'melo going to the knicks, the pressing question for jazz fans is what to make of elite players and their ability to pressure the league. it doesn't take a genius to figure out that, despite deron william's proclamation that he doesn't want to follow in can'thony's shoes, mr. williams is already in a similar situation. he's contracted with a team that isn't a real championship threat. what's worse, at least from the 'melo perspective, is that the team "isn't willing" to "do what it takes" to win a championship: starting this summer, "what it takes" means signing three elite-level players at once.

deron seems a little less self-centered than anthony (i haven't seen denver pushing their small forward's philanthropic efforts), but the lid is off the jar now in terms of questioning whether d-will has ever heard the word "loyalty." unfortunately, of course, there is no real way to find out whether deron believes in his team as much as it believes in him.

well, that's not entirely true. everybody will know the answer to that question within the next 15 months.

i want to make it clear that this post isn't supposed to be about bashing deron williams. the guy is still a brilliant point guard, though the internal pressures within the organization (combined with a wrist injury) have clearly taken a toll on his game as of late. he's saying all the right things, he's generally playing hard, and he's mostly stopped his snide-if-not-poisoned blame-shifting: the last few comments i've heard from him about the team itself have been consistent with most thoughts held by the fans and the media, namely that the jazz need to make some big improvements and they need to do it right away.

no, rather than continue the speculation about where deron's head is, the burning question in my navy/green/gold soul this week is rooted to where other jazz fans are going to turn should miller/KOC/rigby decide to just push the Big Red Button on the whole team during the (inevitable) lockout and start from scratch. i mused recently on my visceral separation from the NBA and the jazz when i was a younger man, and recalled there that the jazz have already had to rebuild once in the last decade.

but if the emotions are too deep, and the desires too opposing to convince the front office that there is anything beyond a mediocre future for this team as it's currently comprised, jazz fans the nation - nay, the world - over are going to have to deal with something we have literally never even considered before. jazz nation will watch as its oligarchy ships out everything we've come to believe in in favor of a harsh reality wherein players work for paychecks and owners fear bottom lines.

that's not a world i believe in. i still assume, and even demand, that at least one team in the NBA can showcase players who play to win with what they've been given, and management finds 12 players who bring something to the table rather than 3 or 4 gods and a gang of sortas.

here's the rub: chris conley once sang that there's something sweet about seeing the world. but now that we've seen how bitter it can be, do we consider ourselves defenders of a flame of truth, or is old-school finally obsolete?

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