Skokie, IL 60076
http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600123552,00.htmlAs the season winds down, the Jazz are stuck with the fourth-worst mark in the league. You knew some lean times in the post-Stockton/Malone era were coming, but who knew it would be the NBA equivalent of the Hindenburg?
This has been one strange, star-crossed season; looking back, you realize the Jazz never had a chance. Fate was against them.
Part of the problem is that the Jazz have not been wise in the Ways of Jerry. How else do you explain Kirk Snyder taunting the Houston Rocket bench or the selfish play or the lack of hustle or Gordan Giricek and Carlos Arroyo lipping off to Sloan during a game? Who do they think they are, Greg Ostertag?
Memo to Young Guys: He's Jerry "Dirty Harry" Sloan. As Jeff Hornacek said years ago, nobody messes with Sloan. Nobody. Sloan is The Boss, not the players. This isn't the L.A. Lakers.
Otherwise, the Jazz couldn't have prevented what happened to them this season. By March, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Raul Lopez were sidelined for the season with injuries, and Carlos Arroyo was settling in at point guard — for the Detroit Pistons.
Larry Miller plunked down a cool $200 mil to lock up three players for the next six or seven years, and two of them are laid up for the season. Now they're earning millions of dollars just for breathing.
For the record, the Jazz have had 201 player games missed; by the end of the season it will be more than 230.
During the Jazz's glory years, nobody took sick leave. In 1996-97, they had 58 player-games missed. In '97-98, it was 53. Incredibly, during the two seasons from 1998-2000, the figures were 17 games and 11 games, respectively.
John Stockton, Karl Malone and Hornacek not only rarely missed a game, they made sure their teammates didn't miss a game, as well. As one Jazz insider notes, "They wouldn't allow others to miss games. I saw them do it. I saw them tell teammates, 'How come you're not playing? What's wrong with you? Get in there. You can play.' "
Then again, this year's team has been struck by injuries that might have put even Stockton on the bench. As Sloan has noted many times this year, the Jazz were fortunate to play injury-free for so many years. Now it's catching up with them.