Dear Utah Jazz fan,
Many Indiana sports fans kept tabs on the June 24 NBA draft, not only to see who the Pacers would select with the 10th pick, but also see which team would select Butler star Gordon Hayward, and maybe not necessarily in that order.
When the Utah Jazz selected Hayward with the ninth pick, I figured the pressure was off Pacers president Larry Bird to select the hometown favorite and avoid a repeat of the Steve Alford-Reggie Miller draft-day sideshow from 1987. We all know how that turned out.
Thinking Hayward would be a good fit in Utah coach Jerry Sloan’s system and a cinch-fan favorite to the loyal Utah fan-base, I next awaited the latest installment of the Pacers shooting themselves in the draft day foot.
Turns out I was one-for-two. The Pacers didn’t disappoint me, but you Jazz fans sure did.
I’m not an outsider, either. I lived and rooted amongst you for several years, so I know how you think. And let me just say your last two turns in the national spotlight have not made you look like a “Pretty, Great State .” First you rained non-stop abuse on Laker guard and former Jazzman Derek Fisher, one of the NBA’s classier players, like a jilted lover during the playoffs because he skipped town to be closer to his daughter’s cancer treatments.
Then you made the bitter-green Jell-O face over the Hayward choice. I get that you wanted somebody else, somebody big and physical. Hayward is neither, just tall. I also know you can’t score if you can’t shoot. We don’t always get what we want. In Indiana we haven’t enjoyed a draft-night afterglow since Danny Granger.
This isn’t about Hayward pro-or-con. Rather, it’s about your regularly displaying a lack of class on a national stage.
Like Hayward, you once questioned the selection of Deron Williams, and you even booed over John Stockton! I’ll give you a pass on that— Stockton was a little known player out of then unheard-of Gonzaga, and 1984 was before the day of round-the-clock cable TV and Internet sports coverage.
Few dispute your reputation as one of the NBA’s most hostile arenas, but “hostile” doesn’t necessarily translate to “knowledgeable.” All that jeering and hooting doesn’t make you look sophisticated and big-time. It makes you look delusional and bitter, and more characteristic of other insufferable fan-bases like the Boston Red Sox or the University of Kentucky.
It’s not like the Jazz have a history of great drafting where you can afford to trash a pick, either. Your organization once traded the draft rights to Magic Johnson, and following the “we need a big man,” conventional wisdom, have selected the likes of Greg Ostertag, Curtis Borchardt, Kris Humphries and Kosta Koufos over the years.
Sometimes you go against the grain. A few NBA draftniks and beat writers projected Hayward to the Jazz, so they probably know a little about the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
It once defied conventional wisdom when Brigham Young rode through the Wasatch Mountains into the desert valley of Salt Lake and decided, “this is the place,” too. Imagine if he’d had a peanut gallery to hoot him down.
So settle down, Utah. Maybe someday you can look back on your Reggie Miller moment.
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