7-time NBA All-Star
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Midvale, Utah, U.S.A.
Re: 2013 Fall camp/Pre-Season!
Temporary starter John Lucas III, signed in the offseason to be now-injured Burke’s backup, said his team has one focus.
“We’re coming in trying to win games. We’re coming in trying to prove a point,” Lucas said. “A lot of people have already put us down, saying it’s a rebuilding year; it’s a development year. As players, we’re not looking at it like that. We look at it like it’s another chance for us to get better, another chance to prove everybody wrong — prove all the critics wrong.”
That's the problem right there. The fact that Lucas is on the court instead of someone a lot better is where the tanking comes in to play.
And there are plenty of those.
Utah hasn’t been gutted like the depleted 76ers or even like the Suns, with only four players back, but the Jazz are widely regarded to be a bottom-five team in the 30-deep NBA.
More like bottom 10.
“People can say whatever they want. People can rank (us) 30. We don’t really care,” Kanter said. “All they can do is just talk. What we’re going to do is we’re going to go out there and show them that they’re wrong if they’re talking about bad. And if they’re talking about good then we’re going to show them that they’re right. … We have enough talent to beat every team on every court.”
Perhaps, but Jazz brass has avoided focusing on talking about making postseason plans.
“I’m excited about the group to see where we are,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “I’m excited for the opportunity for these guys to step up in this league and get bigger roles and see how things go. We’re expecting to compete.”
But those seven-straight defeats to end the preseason after surprising Golden State in the exhibition opener? Isn’t that a sign of things to come?
“The real season starts tomorrow. That’s what’s so good about preseason — none of it counts, so everybody’s 0-0,” Lucas said. “And that’s how we’re going into it. We learned. We got better. It’s a lot of new guys on the team that wasn’t here last year. We’re jelling.”
While it’s one thing to talk about youth movement, making daily progress and being in rebuild mode, it’s a whole ‘nother to live through it as the losses pile up, isn’t it?
“It’s not fun,” Lindsey admitted. The Jazz GM, who spent five seasons with the Spurs before taking over for Kevin O’Connor last summer, added, “Every game is an adventure. There’s the relief of victory and then there’s the pain of defeat. Going through defeat is like, many times, going through a death, the postmortems after the game, so you have to go through that.”
Like fans, in part because he is one, Jazz CEO Greg Miller is bracing himself for the upcoming reality.
Miller said he’d love to go 82-0. Losing streaks, he admitted, are “probably the most-anxiety-inducing thing that I experience.” In other words, he has high expectations.
“The ultimate sign that it’s all OK is when we make it to the finals and win a championship,” he said. “I just want to be the best that we can be.”
Bonuses for everyone in the organization if all of that happens this season.
Miller didn’t actually offer that, but fans can be comforted that he wants to win as badly as they do.
“With the young players that we have and the relative inexperience compared to some of the teams that have been together a little longer,” he said, “the chances are that we will have some challenging periods this season.”
Miller hopes the youthful cornerstone pieces will build more character from those challenges.
“We’re all going to make mistakes,” he said. “It’s how we respond to those mistakes, the lessons we learn from those mistakes, and our ability to execute what we learned going forward that really matters.”
That’s why he’ll be judging this season on more than just the final win-loss total.
“If the young guys can do that (learn and grow), then I’m OK going through the pain,” he said. “As long as we get better and make new mistakes the next time around and then learn from those and continue to move onward and upward and just get better as we go.”
As for the Jazz players, they’ve optimistically talked about pushing fast-forward on the rebuilding process.
“If you’re a competitor and you constantly hear how people are putting you down … that puts a fire in you,” Lucas said. “It makes you want to go out there and compete to prove everybody wrong. You always want to shut critics up.”
Now, before you leave the kitchen, just imagine the euphoria in Jazzland if those silenced critics even come to appreciate the artwork on the fridge.