2.27.2006

White Box of Jazz


A couple weeks back I heard a commentator say that Andrei Kirilenko really needed to hit the weight room this off-season to bulk up. I was shocked. It seemed almost blasphemous to even imagine Andrei without his pterodactyl like wingspan, since I had always been under the impression that it was his greatest asset. Logic would suggest that putting on a few pounds of muscle wouldn’t hurt young Drei—Dwight Howard manages to be both strong and long—but I’ll have none of that logic. Kirilenko without the arms is like Queens without the Bridge. But I can understand the announcer’s desire to see AK do SOMETHING to take his game to the next level. AK has long been one of my favorite players, but even I’ve noticed the way he’s plateaued this season. It’s starting to seem less likely that he will ever have the sort of skill that can be harnessed in key situations. His success seems more the product of geometry: something that long and fast will inevitably fuck things up in a confined space. And I can only assume that his ability to impact a game is as random and chaotic as the genetics that spawned his freakish arms.

But even if Andrei is never able to take over in the clutch, he will always be one of the most dominant players in fantasy basketball. At times, it seems that the game was specially designed to accommodate AK’s game, and no less an authority on fanball than Flip Saunders called him the “MVP of fantasy basketball.” For most of the season I was convinced that triple-doubles were beneath him. He had created his own statistical feat, the fabled 5X5 (For the record, Hakeem recorded six of these before young Andrei hit puberty). But I was wrong. On January 17th Andrei posted his first career triple-double, and made it clear that he was actively pursuing the tri-dub by trying to rack up assists late in the 4th. Jerry Sloan, who famously condoned a flagrant foul on Ricky Davis when Ricky was going for his first triple double, even aided the effort by playing Andrei for the entire second half despite the fact that the game was in-hand. What’s more, Andrei has even become aware of his preeminent position in the fantasy world. "Sometimes people tell me I'm 'eight-cat,' good in eight categories," Kirilenko said. "I have lots of stats, so I'm good choice, they say."

Andrei even went so far as to defend his accomplishment through the guise of cultural observation: “America is a stats country.” This is funny, because I believe Tocqueville said the exact same thing during his 19th century voyage. Indeed, having just dusted off my copy of Democracy in America, I see that Alexis actually said: “It's in the Player Efficiency Rating that one learns the morals, the usages, the spirit, and the character of a player. Finally, one improves oneself in seeing the game, and one learns to know men of all kinds." Here at FreeDarko we view stats through a suspicious eye, yet I imagine even Shoals himself would be hard pressed to deny the accuracy of Andrei’s observation. America IS a stats country. While we’re not alone in our love of fantasy sports, we certainly pioneered them. We’re constantly adding new tickers to the bottom of our channels and the collection of stats has become big business. The blame for this phenomenon doesn’t lie at the feet of Billy Beene, Michael Lewis, Bill James or even the nerdgod who first invented fantasy sports. We would have reached this point without them. We are a results oriented people supposedly living in an “era of accountability.”

Tocqueville never made it further West than Memphis, but I wonder what he would have had to say about Utah, the only state where the man above collected more than 70% of the vote. The Jazz have long been regarded as the “whitest” team in all of basketball, but I was unsure if this was actually true or was simply the vestigial remnants of that Stockton/Hornacek backcourt. Enter statistics. This study shows that throughout the 90’s the Jazz were the second whitest team in the league, trailing only the Bulls (which shocked me, until I recalled Longley, Wennington, Kukoc, Kerr, Paxon, Buchler, and, last but not least, Jack Haley). From 1990-99 the Jazz were 33% white. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find stats that included recent years when the Euro invasion really took off, but a look at the Jazz roster demonstrates that they’re still operating at about the same clip. Five of their fifteen players are white. And while I’m probably the 3,548th person to make the “even their black players are white” joke (Williams and Humphries), that doesn’t even include their Alaskan (Boozer) or Stanford grad (Collins). Clearly this roster was put together with more than just winning in mind.


The question is, who’s behind this? Is it Jerry Sloan or Larry “Brokeback” Miller? Miller is the easy target after the tolerance he demonstrated in recently banning the Oscar frontrunner from his chain of movie theatres. Yet, it’s impossible to think of the Jazz without envisioning Jerry Sloan and his John Deere trucker hat. Sloan is the longest tenured coach in the league, and his fingerprints are all over the Jazz roster. Sure, he had success coaching arguably the greatest duo in NBA history (two trips to the Finals), but he’s never won a ring. Further, since the departure of Stockton-to-Malone the Jazz have gone a woeful 94-125, yet Sloan still somehow maintains his unassailable rep as one of the great coaches in the league. This season they are three games below .500 despite having two players in the midst of All-Star caliber seasons. The last few years have seen Stein and other pundits heap Sloan with praise for getting less-talented players to play hard, but this really doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment to me. It seems like the inevitable result of constantly stocking the team with untalented hustle players like Matt Harpring and Devin Brown. Did the Jazz really think Deron Williams would be better than Chris Paul?

All of this pisses me off because I love Kirilenko. Burns helped me appreciate Memo, but Memo13.com made me positively fall for him. You’ll never hear Memo complain about crooked rims like Wally and Hoiberg. While Cribs has left us with the impression that all ballers have comfy gyms or at least a decent SportCourt, Memo just slapped a rim up over his garage. STRAIGHT SUBURBAN. And before he can even practice his silky jumper he has to shovel his own driveway. Atta, Turk!


I want to see more of AK and Memo. I want to see them in the All-Star game. And since only players on good teams make it to All-Star Weekend these days, I need the Jazz to become a good team. Do you realize how many Kirilenko sippin’ sizzurp jokes we were deprived of this year?

85 Comments:

At 2/27/2006 2:06 PM, Anonymous T. said...

I don't get all this new-fangled "has to had bulk" stuff. Michael Cooper was the man . . . and at 6'7" he weighed 167. I'm 1 foot shorter and I weight 175.

 
At 2/27/2006 2:24 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

I agree. I've always been tall and skinny, and I'm hoping that the Euros will make it more acceptable for my people to once again play in the league. Saturday night I got to see the Warriors in person and watched the skinny Biedrins/Cabarkapa duo continually slide in for offensive boards. We can't back you down, but we have our strengths.

On a related note, let me pass on this sad bit of Biedrins news that was in the San Antonio paper yesterday:

"Warriors forward Andris Biedrins recently wrecked his $100,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which he purchased not long after receiving his first NBA contract in 2004.

"It's pretty wasted," Biedrins told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I love that car. ... It was like my best friend in America."

 
At 2/27/2006 2:25 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

AK doesn't need to change a thing. Fuck the weights. Look at Melo, he's fat and is averaging 26 a game
Ak plays just to play. Nothing more, nothing less. He's not about winning or losing or stats or any of that shit, he's just a russian baller who loves to drive his car at insanely high speeds. Just enjoy him.
I, for one, champion your cause to get him and Okur in the ASG, that would be ffeeeenomenal.

 
At 2/27/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i know DLIC will kill me for this, but melo really done shed his baby pounds this year. in his frame and in his game.

kirilenko is also built for fantasy sports, and not the real world, in that what he does more involves more the semi-inevitable accumulation of weird stats than actual dominance. obviously in real life you'd rather have a d-wade triple-double than one of AK's freak games, but in fantasy, that one three, quota of blocks, and pair of steals means more to the world than the obvious game-changing presence of a guard that drops 25, dishes out 10 assists, and hits the glass to the tune of 10 boards (though i'm beginning to think that high-rebounding guards are overrated in the real thing, since a league in love with the three leads to more easy rebounds for athletic perimeter/wing players).

not that anyone needed me to tell them that, but it does make me sorrowful.

 
At 2/27/2006 3:08 PM, Blogger emynd said...

Great post.

I felt like this post was advancing along the following trajectory, but never really outright got there, so I might as well ask it:

Is Jerry Sloan now considered a "good coach" because he teaches "white basketball" to "white" players? In other words, is his penchant for drafting "style"-less, "white"-ish players and coaching them to play a fairly tame, old-school brand of basketball what leads people to think and/or insist he's somehow still coaching well despite his meager record?

Perhaps not. Perhaps he's just granted a free pass because he's a HOF-er. I dunno. It is curious that in a league that's pretty trigger-happy when it comes to firing under-achieving coaches that Sloan gets a pass. But, then again, he does have quite a legacy.

I do love AK-47, though. Does anybody know if he chose that number on purpose?

-e

 
At 2/27/2006 3:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

maybe brick was saying this in the first place, but it seems pretty easy to get boring players to "play the right way." larry brown deserves more credit for having gotten talented, often dynamic, players to buy into his model. it would be like getting the jazz to play and1 ball.

i will also make the heretical point that it would also be quite an achievment to fuck things up with the best pure point ever and arguably the best pf of all time as the core of your runner-up dynasty.

 
At 2/27/2006 3:23 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

let me try that again: brick was saying that of course hustle players will hustle, i'm saying that obviously dull-ass white guys will be amenable to playing solid, team-oriented, basketball. i don't think they're the same thing, but that depends on how inflammatory you want to believe i'm being.

 
At 2/27/2006 3:45 PM, Blogger elandfried said...

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Kirilenko chose that number of purpose. He's no dummy.

Second, as has been discussed before, I think AK and Memo are two of the least "white" Euros in the leagues. I personally think that is because both Russia and Turkey have a large part of their counry rooted in Asia, not Europe. I've been to Turkey - they are most definitely not Euros. My point is, when giving Boozer and Deron Williams as examples of "white" black players, let's not forget that there are examples of "black" white players to balance the equation.

Finally, I don't think Sloan has much of a choice about drafting and signing mostly "whitish" players. It's Utah people. No black people live in Utah. Few black players are going to sign in Utah or remain in Utah once their rookie contract is up. I don't think this is Sloan's fault. Even their one black superstar (Malone) is the whitest black ballplayer this side of Tony Gwynn. Sloan's working with what he's got.

 
At 2/27/2006 3:53 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

i think one of the greatest moments of the 20th century would have been if Utah somehow had the 1st pick in the 96 draft, got Iverson with a retired Stockton. that would have been beyond tremendous.

 
At 2/27/2006 4:02 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

Love the FreeDarko fellas.

Just a few semi-on-topic thoughts from a life-long Jazz fan and Utah resident: The white bread make up of the Jazz roster is also a result of many "urban" free agents refusing to sign in Utah, presumably because of the demographics of the state. Things have probably changed a bit since Derek Harper issued his now-famous-in-the-SLC "You go play in Utah" comment, but still most of the players who end up here are the non-urban ones like the Alaskan Boozer, the Stanford Collins, and the other Dukie Maggette, who signed the Jazz offer sheet last year only to have the Clips match.

Second of all, the fans in Utah loved Stockton to Malone but are fed up with the joy-less Sloan. The main sports talk radio station in the state is owned by the Jazz, so when the callers call for Jerry to step down the hosts invariably play the company line and say the caller is crazy. but the anti Sloan sentiment is definitely strong. And I would say that the reason he's still employed is three-fold: Miller is very loyal and has basically said that the job is Jerry's as long as he wants it. Second, Sloan's wife passed away from cancer last year and I believe there's something of a sympathy grace period going on here. And third, Miller and Sloan both believe all players should have the same court demeanor and work ethic of Stockton and Malone and don't have patience with players who put style over substance (see Arroyo, Carlos).

And speaking to the question raised by emynd about whether Sloan gets praise for pushing the "white basketball agenda" despite the poor record, there could be some truth to that, but the fact remains that if this team could hit layups they'd be 8 games over .500 with mediocre talent (due to injuries). The system is built to get layups and none of these players can finish at the rim. The praise is valid because anyone watching a team with Milt Palacio running the show in crunch time and still flirting with a playoff spot needs to credit the coach.

Lastly, the AK-47 thing was a marketing creation. When he first came into the league the team pushed the whole Russian Rifle AK-47 thing like crazy.

And on preview, what elandfried and mutoni said.

 
At 2/27/2006 4:05 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

On his personal website, Andrei attributes his christening as AK-47 to former Jazz guard Quincy Lewis. He also says "only Americans could come up with this nickname".

http://www.kirilenko.ru/?lang=eng&chapter=andrey&subchapter=nicknames

 
At 2/27/2006 4:12 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

AK did indeed choose the number on purpose.

e, i don't know if sloan gets respect because he coaches an old school brand of basketball, but it is an interesting theory. his trademarks (according to his nba.com page) are "intensity and work ethic." that does seem like the sort of shit that old white men look for. i don't think i've ever watched a basketball game with my father where he hasn't concluded that the winning team won because they played harder or made more of their free throws.

but sloan's numbers are pretty hard to fuck with. he's got like the 6th best winning percentage of all time and the jazz had 16 consecutive winning seasons. but my problem is that at some point the numbers and the attitude made sloan untouchable. like shoals pointed out, it would be pretty difficult not to make the playoffs with stockton and malone. malone is the 2nd best PF of all time, and stockton still has more assists and steals than anyone who's ever played the game. but, even more importantly, they fit together perfectly.

now, sloan can go 42-40 and be named coach of the year.

 
At 2/27/2006 4:35 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

good stuff, pichi. i had no idea that there was an anti-sloan movement in the SLC. i thought he was worshipped. frankly, i was kind of hoping someone would call me an idiot for questioning sloan.

i forgot about that harper line. that's classic. and you and elandfried are right that it might be harder for them to sign some players, but i still think most players in the league consider money, playing time and the opportunity to win long before the consider location. maybe i'm wrong.

i think it has more to do with a desire to appease the white fan base, though. that clarmont article that i linked found a strong correlation between a team's racial composition and the racial composition of the area, and also said that the most skilled white starters locate in places with larger white populations. i think that's clearly the case in the league right now with nash, AK, Memo and even Wally.

 
At 2/27/2006 4:43 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Allow myself to introduce myself amd bring some heresy of my own by questioning the positioning of the Mailman as the 2nd best PF of all time. Absent Stockton (and then the rep that allowed him to shoot 14 FT's/game and foul continuosly on defense) how much more is he than a supremely conditioned version of Marc Jackson?

 
At 2/27/2006 5:22 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

Slightly off-topic, but love him or hate him, it's simply incredible that Malone put up 30 a night for 18 years and up until that last season in LA only missed 10 games, including suspensions (for dropping David Robinson like a boneless chicken and giving Isaiah 40 non-scriptural meaning). It's interesting that Stockton and Malone were so able to play through injuries and miss only a handful of games in 18+ year careers, despite their rough play. I mean, Stockton set more nasty picks in the lane on power forwards than most so-called enforcers in today's league could dream about. And strangely enough, Shandon Anderson left the Jazz and went on to have the longest games-played streak in the league for a while. So what was it that made these players into the kind of iron men that are the antithesis of the Carlos Boozers of the world? And what if Kirilenko had spent an offseason with Malone in Arkansas doing his crazy workout, running uphill with tires tied behind him? It would be like a bizarro workout musical montage scene with the NBA version of Apollo and Ivan Drago, only with their personalities switched.

 
At 2/27/2006 5:31 PM, Anonymous Sid said...

Not making any accusations here but the last 5 drafts when they were on the fense between players they chose the whiter player each and every time. Make excuses for it but it's true.

Lopez over Parker in 2001
Borchardt over Boozer in 2002
Aleksandar Pavlovic over Dahntay Jones and Boris Diaw in 2003
Kris Humphries over Al Jefferson in 2004
and Of course they just had to take Deron over Paul in 2005

All of which the players the Jazz chose have turned out to be not so good. With exception to Lopez who probably would have been an all-star like Parker if not for injuries but was a flop none the less.

 
At 2/27/2006 5:51 PM, Anonymous T. said...

I'd take issue with all of the Jazz guys "playing white" - Hornacek, despite appearances had a black man's game. Runners, floaters, tear-drops, crazy reverse dribble fall-aways, rainbows over guys. This was not fundamental basketball.

Besides - Ricky Green and especially Adrian Dantley were style. Urban style.

 
At 2/27/2006 5:54 PM, Anonymous Pacifist Viking said...

I live in Minnesota, and it is ridiculous that Mark Madsen is a popular "fan favorite." The guy can't play, but so many fans in MN love him because of his "hustle" and "attitude." The guy can't play! The reason they notice his hustle is because his every movement reveals his suckhood as a player, so it's quite clear he's hustling to do anything. Minnesota isn't as lily-white as some might believe, but it's still a largely white fan base. And this loser of a dud is one of the players wasting KG's career while the fans cheer like mad because this white guy just grabbed a loose ball.

 
At 2/27/2006 5:57 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

one of my absolute favorite things about mock draft season is when it comes time to speculate on the jazz pick--it's amazing how often writers pencil in someone decidedly un-sloan-like, only to admit that there's no way in hell he'd go THAT way. but in the end, they leave it, just so no one will accuse them of accusing sloan of anything. because the truth is that fucking blatant.

 
At 2/27/2006 6:24 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

T. makes an intriguing argument. i may need to watch some more hornacek tapes. he always looked so incredibly white and goofy, and he had a hoosiers-like backstory--he initially walked on at iowa state. and he had that softbatch face-touching free throw ritual. i'm struggling to remember his actual game, though. i always thought of him as a jumpshooter, which is of course, very white.

i don't know that a floater is a non-fundamental shot, though. a lot of athletic guards (raymond felton, for example) struggle because they can get into the lane at will, but they're so used to being able to dunk that they get their shots blocked a lot in the nba. the floater is an essential shot, quite fundamental, i'd contend.

but, i need to see some footage of ol' horny in action. maybe he had more soul in his game than i initially thought. i'm willing to entertain that notion.

 
At 2/27/2006 6:28 PM, Blogger Rocco Chappelle said...

I think Sloan is getting a pretty bad rap here. Folks are forgetting Sloan's foray into the "Young and Couth-less", DeShawn Stevenson. Sloan even stuck with dude after the Stat. Rape charge. Follow that pick up with the drafting of the most seemingly North Philly Puerto-Rock this side of Peedi Crakk in Arroyo, and I he thought he had his backcourt for the future. It just didn't work out.

T - Good look on Hornacek. He had the prettiest runner this side of Jeff Malone.

 
At 2/27/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

Diaw is arguably whiter than Pavlovic

 
At 2/27/2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

of all nba players, pavlovic looks the most like our beloved shoals. that's got to count for something.

 
At 2/27/2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Rocco Chappelle said...

BR - Horny's execution was priceless. To envision his typical drive, just think of a more fluid/less explosive Ginobli. He would drop the most ridiculous circus shit around the hoop.

I really hated the '93 Barkley trade but I learned to appreciate Hornacek/ Hersey Hawkins/ Clarence Witherspoon lead team. Fuck Tim Perry & Andrew Lang.

 
At 2/27/2006 6:39 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Diaw is the player Luke Walton wishes he was.

 
At 2/27/2006 7:01 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

this is so out of place that's it's perfect. in case you haven't yet heard vy's radio freestyle, here's a link

http://rapidshare.de/files/12352979/renamed_esg_vince_young_and_kiotti_freestyle.mp3.html

if only there were an nba franchise that was, you know, the opposite of the jazz.

 
At 2/27/2006 7:04 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

diaw's website has some fun

 
At 2/27/2006 7:42 PM, Anonymous T. said...

Not to change the subject, but 1 hour and 30 minutes ago on the Toyota Center floor, I saw something to strike fear in the hearts of Western Conference teams everywhere - Black Jesus/STAT warming up and going at about 75% speed.

He doesn't look like he has any issues with the knee.

(Oddly enough - given the conversation - he works out with Marc Ivaroni. Who may have been the whitest white guy who ever whited. Who also played a very odd role on that 1988 Jazz team which took the Lakers to 7 games - he'd start and play about 10 minutes a game because Thurl Bailey hated starting).

I also saw Raja Bell getting two cups of coffee with lots of sugar from the media/staff dining.

 
At 2/27/2006 7:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i was about to throw aside all my night's goals and settle in for several hours of television, but that news has me wanting to live forever. FOREVER!!!!!!!

 
At 2/27/2006 7:56 PM, Anonymous T. said...

Well . . he's still not expected back for another few weeks.

 
At 2/27/2006 8:04 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

t, i think i speak for everyone when i say that you should never worry about changing the subject when it comes to good news about amare. that's kind of always the subject.

but you're completely wrong about horny (can you believe the jazz anouncer regularly called him that during telecasts?)having anything close to a "black man's game." the running leaning floater fadeaway teardrop is pure white man, as it is an open admission of being unable to finish at the rim. vinny del negro had a whole bag of those type of trick shots. it was the only thing that allowed him to survive. we could use more italian americans in the league.

and shoals, that diaw site is coming together nicely. i was hoping to save those tony & boris wine drinking pics for a rainy day. SO SO FRENCH. it's pretty funny that he's a member of parker's entourage. parker's site is being designed by the same people. if you go to it now, you'll hear a radio advertisement for his concert where tony says, "this is tony pizzle, aka tha machine."

 
At 2/27/2006 8:11 PM, Anonymous T. said...

There's no way that Stockton and Hornacek had similar games. When I hear "white man's game" I think triple-threat position, close-outs, hustle, diving on the floor, defense - John Stockton, Madsen, Rambis, Ryan Bowen.

Hornacek's game was pure creativity - which wasn't the game of the Iowa cornfields he was raised in. His game was pure Earl Monroe - from the streets of Balmer - spins, wrong footed jumping. The Pearl couldn't finish at the rim either - Hornacek (and his proper antecedant - Pistol Pete) had the opposite of the staid shoot-a-jumper-off-a-pick game.

And I'm not disparaging the white game - hell, it's what I play. I'm all about passing one side, picking away, curling, shooting the elbow jumper off the crackdown pick on the FLEX offense. That's my game.

But it's not the game of Hornacek.

 
At 2/27/2006 8:16 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Aside from dunking instead of shooting floaters, and the fact that he has quite possibly the most, er, unconventional J in creation, how 'black' a game does Matrix have? His whole game is based on work done without the ball.

 
At 2/27/2006 8:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2/27/2006 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two falafels for the "Atta, Turk!" comment.

 
At 2/27/2006 10:16 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

THIS REFUSES TO SHOW UP UNLESS YOU LOAD THE "POST COMMENTS" WINDOW< AND THAT AIN'T WHAT I ASKED FOR

just as all international players are not the same (note to
any newcomers: we know this, but say it all the time because it's so funny that others don't), white folks are hardly as homogenous an nba bunch as cultural politics would have us believe. i don't think there's any accounting for it along the lines of ethnicity or geography, but maravich was someone with a "white" game who was nevertheless sick as fuck. and as his been discussed here before, bird's style was more than just non-descript guts and technique. or it made guts and technique into an art form, as opposed to the opposite of one that it's seen as today.

 
At 2/27/2006 11:11 PM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

"Not making any accusations here but the last 5 drafts when they were on the fense between players they chose the whiter player each and every time. Make excuses for it but it's true.

Lopez over Parker in 2001
Borchardt over Boozer in 2002
Aleksandar Pavlovic over Dahntay Jones and Boris Diaw in 2003
Kris Humphries over Al Jefferson in 2004
and Of course they just had to take Deron over Paul in 2005"

Deron and Hump were "whiter" than Paul and Jefferson? Are people really making this distinction?

Regardless, this statement is just false.

Lopez was picked over Parker for 2 reasons: (i) Euro scouts thought Lopez was more talented than Parker; and (ii) the Jazz could stash Lopez overseas for a season.

Borch was selected over Boozer because nearly every scout in the world projected Borch as a lottery pick but for his foot injury, whereas Boozer was thought to be a college overachiever whose game wouldn't translate to the NBA.

Pavlovic was thought to be the best pure shooter available at the slot; I don't know that the Jazz were even looking at Jones and Diaw. For what it's worth 11 of the next 19 players selected after Pavlovic were white.

Humphries was thought to be one of the most "NBA-ready" players in the draft and the Jazz weren't looking for another high-school project.

Deron over Paul was a mistake in my mind, but most NBA scouts thought Deron had more of a pass-first, Jazz-type game than Paul, and would be a better defender and more durable player ready to step in and run the Jazz.

As for taking the "whiter" player every time in the past 5 years, in 2003, the Jazz selected Mo Williams in the 2nd round when many thought they should take a shooter like Kyle Korver.

In 2004, nearly everyone believed that the Jazz were going to draft white Sergei Monia with the 16th pick. Instead, they took the more NBA-ready Kirk Snyder.

In 2005, the speculation was that the Jazz would use their 2nd round picks on another Euro (Roko Ukic, Mile Ilic, Martynas Andriuskevicius, Erazem Lorbek, or Mickael Gelabale) or another point guard (Travis Diener), but, instead, took high shooler C.J. Miles and the troubled kid from Benton Harbor, Michigan, Robert Whaley.

Suggesting that "each and every time" they had the opportunity in the past 5 years, Jazz chose the "whiter" player just isn't true.

The Jazz's history also does not support these irresponsible charges. In the last 10 years or so, the Jazz sought to acquire or actually acquired approximately 53 black players as compared to approximately 16 white players -- or 23%, which is approximately the same percentage of "white" players in the league.

Among others, the Jazz actively pursued G. Arenas, A. Miller, A. Daniels, C. Maggette (Clippers matched offer sheet), J. Terry (Hawks matched offer sheet), and E. Brand (all of whom signed elsewhere); signed M. Palacio, K. McLeod, D. Brown, A. Owens, C. Boozer, K. Clark, R. Bell, M. Ruffin, M. Moore, A. Carr, G. Foster, R. Livingston, H. Eisley, A. Gilliam, D. Manning, J. Donaldson, S. Howard, T. Hudson, C. Morris, J. Humphries, O. Polynice, and J. Starks; acquired by trade D. Marshall, J. Amaechi, J. Malone, and F. Spencer; and drafted R. Whaley, C.J. Miles, D. Williams, M. Williams, D. Stevenson, J. Collins, K. Snyder, K. Humphries, Q. Lewis, S. Anderson, B. Russell, I. Austin, D. Benoit, W. Bond, J. Watson, L. Wright, J. Vaughn, N. Mohammed, T. Braggs, E Lucas, and K. Dickens. In addition, the Jazz also acquired during that time two Hispanic minority players in Carlos Arroyo and Raul Lopez. During that same time period, the Jazz drafted or acquired via trade or free agency only 16 caucasians: M. Okur, J. Hornacek, T. Chambers, P. Chilcutt, J. Crotty, R. LaRue, B. Handlogten, A. Kirilenko, G. Ostertag, T. Fuller, A. Keefe, S. Padgett, C. Borchardt, G. Giricek, T. Gugliotta, and M. Harpring. I'm not sure how a ratio of approximately 52 blacks plus other minorities (Arroyo, Lopez, et al.) to 16 caucasians demonstrates a racist intent to pursue "whiter" players.

This ratio would probably be even larger in favor of minorities but for the fact that several black players have affirmitively shunned the Jazz's organization in the FA market, occasionally forcing the Jazz to forego pursuit of those players despite the Jazz's strong desire to field the best team possible. IMHO, this says a lot more about the players' own biases and possible reverse-bigotry than it does about the Jazz organization.

In other words, there is no evidence that the Jazz organization is any more "racist" than the next team. Rather, it has been a combination of the stated preference of many minority players NOT to play in Utah combined with simple chance that has resulted in the Jazz's roster having a lower percentage of black players than the rosters of some of the other teams in the league. Fans and writers with the temerity to suggest otherwise without any basis other than the current makeup of the Jazz roster are, I believe, simply uninformed.

 
At 2/27/2006 11:45 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

which sounds more far-fetched:

1. "if only those african-american free agents would come to slc, this utah jazz team would be a quite different affair"

2. "as an institution, the utah jazz have built an identity based around sloan's brand of basketball, which some could well label 'white'."

or look at it this way: if sloan has been a massive success as a coach in this league, and he's done so with a certain style of play and a certain kind of player, why should we believe that he'd

a) want to switch up his style

b) at any time had the option of becoming an equal, or greater coach with a different kind of organization.

i appreciate your efforts to prove that the jazz and sloan don't hate the black man, but the issue here is what UTAH JAZZ BASKETBALL proudly stands for, not whether or not it actively antagonizes all that is not like itself. the kkk may be worse than people who oppose affirmative action out of concern for the vicitimization of white folks. doesn't mean, though, that's the latter's not socio-politcally off-putting and problematic.

 
At 2/27/2006 11:54 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

"Aside from dunking instead of shooting floaters, and the fact that he has quite possibly the most, er, unconventional J in creation, how 'black' a game does Matrix have? His whole game is based on work done without the ball."

black game is based on swagger and pure aggression. there aren't too many cats anywhere who have more of that than Marion. His game is as black as it gets. he may not cross you up or anything, but he'll yoke one on your head at just about any moment.

 
At 2/28/2006 12:20 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

also i would never want to be caught saying that moving without the ball and a "black" game are somewhow mutually exclusive. the same goes for using the backboard at times, the mid-range jumper, the pick and roll, or any of the other things that jerry sloans writes on his pants. it's the absence of the other stuff that would lead me to call someone one way or the other. as in, flex all the fundamentals you want, but like mutoni said, have some swagger to it. ray allen comes to mind--really orthodox, classic game, but no one's questioning his "blackness"

 
At 2/28/2006 12:21 AM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

Sounds like a non sequitur to me.

Your assumption seems to be that Sloan's style of basketball is inherently "white" AND that Utah Jazz Basketball "proudly stands for" some unnamed precept or ideology. While it may be true that the Jazz play a fairly distinct brand of basketball, comparing fundamentally sound basketball to "people who oppose affirmative action out of concern for the vicitimization of white folks" is both ludicrous and offensive. How is playing a certain brand of basketball or standing for "team" basketball as opposed to individual play somehow racist? There are many black players who fit this fundamental style of team play perfectly -- including some of the best players in the league over the years. Players like Duncan, Jordan, Russell, Chamberlain, Magic, the Mailman, David Robinson, Kareem, Olajuwon, Garnett, Baylor, Brand, Hill, Mourning, Lanier, Ewing, Kevin Johnson, Payton, Parish, Kidd, Pippen, Reggie Miller, Cheeks, A.C. Green, Larry Nance, Moncrief, Oakley, Hersey Hawkins, Dumars, Byron Scott, Willis, Ray Allen, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Billups, and Marques Johnson all would have excelled in the Jazz system. The view that "fundamental" or "team" basketball is inherently white just because it isn't And1 Streetball seems itself to smack of racism: it suggests that black players can't play fundamental, team basketball -- a proposition that I simply do not accept.

 
At 2/28/2006 12:24 AM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

Swagger? Sloan was ALL about swagger. Sloan would wet himself to have Ray Allen on the Jazz.

 
At 2/28/2006 12:37 AM, Blogger donthaveablog said...

Pierce made the AK cry...

Kirilenko's eyes started to tear in the locker room as he talked in a shaky voice about his frustrations and inability to stop Pierce. He played just four minutes in the final quarter because of his inept defense, but his small consolation was that none of his teammates could do any better.

http://www.sltrib.com/jazz/ci_3533914

 
At 2/28/2006 12:42 AM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

Give me a break. AK was benched "because of his inept defense?" Hardly. The Jazz AS A TEAM played horribly in that game, and were down 22 in the 4th. Sloan put AK back in as part of the normal rotation, but took him back out because the Jazz were down 22 at the time. Even Sloan's sometimes curious personnel decisions aren't foolish enough to think that replacing AK with Harpring is a defensive upgrade.

 
At 2/28/2006 12:43 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

chitownjazzfan. first off, how does it feel to be in the city that crushed your heart in back-to-back finals? sorry, couldn't resist.

those cats you named all play with swagger but top it off with fundemental play (most of them, anyhow). malone and stockton (the true embodiment of jazz ball and utah itself) never backed up the fundementals with any swagger. maybe stockton at times with some flick no look pass, but it was always out of necessity never to spice things up or make some dude in the 40th row spill his beer and jump out of his seat. this is why everyone hated that team because they were so damn boring. now with fat elvis and ak47, they've got a little su'in sum'in going on and cats on the playgrounds can identify with them a bit, but not too much because Sloan is still patrolling the sidelines and rocking the john deere.
no stars (which are mostly black) want to play there because the jazz don't pay all that well and because the nightlife would be suicide-inducing. only a cat like kobe could survive in that environment since all he does is work out and watch game tape. dude kills me, i bet when he goes to the MTV awards or something he's sitting there nervously twitching and thinking about his place in the triangle.

 
At 2/28/2006 1:06 AM, Blogger Pooh said...

black game is based on swagger and pure aggression.

Wally Sczerbiak, nuff said (not saying the swagger or aggression is justified, but I watched him 70 games a year til this year, and if there is one thing he doesn't lack, it's swagger. And that's largely why KG (and most knowlegdable Minny hoops fans) hate him)

By this definition, Pistol Pete had one of the blacker games of all time, as did (White) Basketball Jesus. KVH had it in spades before it got beaten out of him. Ray Allen is not exactly drowing in 'street cred', I might add.

Anyway, style-wise Marion seems like he has a lot of John Havlicheck.

At a certain point, the categories become so malleable as to become meaningless. But then I'm new here and hopefully will pick up on the FD ethic over time.

 
At 2/28/2006 1:15 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

chijazzfan: look at what i wrote about marion. i don't think black people are stupid or genetically predisposed to play unsound basketball, so back off. but if you can't see the difference between (to take some names from your list) the style of jordan, chamberlin, young robinson, 'zo, kg, payton, kidd, oak, pippen, cheeks and the sloan way of doing things, i don't know what to say to you.

sloan swagger isn't the same as the kind of swagger those guys play(ed) with.

and what i'm saying might be a total syllogism, but it's not a non-sequiter. sloan has been a great coach using conservative, often white, players and a similar approach to the game. it's what got him fame and is in some sense his trademark. isn't it just a little strange to claim that he could've done it with any kind of players, and that he could've been just as successful coaching in a different style?

the affirmative action was obviously supposed to be absurd but that is the difference between calling the jazz a biased organization (i'd never say that) and pointing out that the jazz's identity through the years has been really fucking white.

 
At 2/28/2006 1:22 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i want to officially go on record as disagreeing with the statement "black game is based on swagger and pure aggression". just remember that next time anyone accuses me of anything

 
At 2/28/2006 1:28 AM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

I guess my idea of "swagger" is just a bit different than yours, mutoni and bethlehem. There's certainly no disagreement from me that the Jazz have always had a very workmanlike approach to the game. Self-expression and chest-thumping tend to be disfavored (though players whose effort Sloan likes can get away with it more than others -- See Raja Bell).

But the players you seek to distinguish from the Jazz style, Bethlehem, ALL could be as workmanlike as any players in the game. As flamboyant and high-flying as Jordan's game could be, he wasn't a chest-thumping, Terrell Owens-type showboat. Neither was Chamberlain, Robinson, 'Zo, KG, Payton, Kidd, Oakley, Pippen, or Cheeks. They let their on-the-court play speak for itself and played good, fundamental basketball. That's why I think they would have been perfect in Sloan's system, and I DON'T think Sloan would have had to change his "style" or would have been somehow less successful with those players in his system.

For what it's worth, I think Sloan IS flawed and sometimes seems out of touch with his players, but there's no denying the success he had over the years, oftentimes with lesser talent.

 
At 2/28/2006 5:51 AM, Blogger the lake show said...

Hey all,

From the jump I gotta say I love what you guys write about here. I've told quite a few friends about freedarko and the message of true b-ball fans and weekend players who werent gifted enough to be born 6'9" with a 7'4" wingspan. Ok, enough praise.

From the Utah Jazz "whiting" of basketball to AK 47 and his brilliance in 120 seconds by a Laker fan (from birth.)

To answer the racial question: Yes, Utah Jazz does try to "whiten" their roster. It's completley obvious from their draft picks, free agent signings and Offensive sets (illegal back picks) and its done for their fan base. My opinion: if they want to do that, fine. Who cares but Jazz fans? I dont. It's their loss. I do have one thing lastly to say about the Utah Jazz. If the Godddam rummors are true about sending Carlos Boozer to LA, It better be for Kwame Brown straight up. Were saving Odom for KG.

Jeff Hornacek, Wow. This kid had game. But dont get it twisted, his game was pure white. Floaters in the lane, off balaced but squared-up shouldered shots, bouncing the ball through defenders to set up 12 footers... all white game. Just look at the things Larry Bird did, the ultimate white player. Trash talking, J's in the face, and in his younger days, he might dunk on your ass. Are you gonna say Bird's game isnt white? Of course it is, and I have no problem starting Bird at SF on my all time team. Bird had swagger, remember the Person/Bird fued?

To get back to the Jazz for a second, I can see what they want to do. They are trying to recreate the Celtics in Utah. It wont succeed, they will never get a ring until David Stern rigs the lottery for them to land Morrison and every other great white hope for the next 10 years. Their market is too small to throw Mark Cuban money at a markee free agent. Utah is probably mandatory in every guys trade clause to deny the transaction. But, they do come to compete every night, so they get my respect and Jerry Sloan has alot to do with that.

Jerry Sloan, aka Popovichlite. Sure, his system is boring as hell and is full of illegal back picks. But, if the NBA doesn't mind, then you roll with the rules (or at least until our genius Phil Jackson or TNT's Chuckster bitches about it on TV.) But theres no denying his system is effective. He rarely gets out coached, he uses a consistant lineup (listening Larry Brown and Scott Skiles?) and really does maximize talent. Mark Eaton and Greg Ostertag anyone? If I owned the Utah Jazz, theres no way on Earth im getting rid of this guy until the whole attitude of the front office changes.

Ok, back to the racial issue for my departing words. It's not about a black or white game. Style vs efficiency. Dunks vs jumpshots. Its about putting the dam ball in the hoop, period. Its not even debatable about how dunks are demoralizing to a team (as a 6 foot black jew whose thrown down more dunks than God would have allowed Moses too on Pharoah, Ive seen the hearts being ripped out in slow motion.) But, the same goes for the trey too. Drop, 3 in a row, there goes the heart. I could go on and on about this but....I wont.

But, I will tell you straight up why the games are different between american black and white players (notice I said american white players, the Euros I might breakdown in another post.) Its all in the youth. I had the oppertunity to play with fundamentaly sound coaches (white guys) whose son is the point guard and also in the streets and playgrounds of LA. The priorities are different, but the goal is the same, to win. With the coach, they want your shot to be sound, run the offense, hit the open man, rotate on defense to save the coaches sons ass cuz he cant play defense no matter how much is dad yells etc...In the 'hood, the mission is to dunk on everyones head and stay on the court. Both styles are effective and they both produce wins. Both have their positives and their negatives which can be debated to eternity. Its the players who can do both who reign supreme in both the 'hood and the parqee floor. Ohhhh, and I cant forget Nike commercials.

Dam, I didn't get to talk about AK7, but I dont need to, look at the stats.

 
At 2/28/2006 9:59 AM, Anonymous T. said...

Are you gonna say Bird's game isnt white?

I'll step and say that it wasn't. Some social commentators have even noted that Magic vs. Bird - of the two Bird was more 'black' - in his game and in his background. No father, trash talking vs. middle class, two parent household guy who played with flair - as a means to get somewhere. Larry would play with flair for flair's sake (note his 'I'm going to this spot here and i'm going to shoot the jumper and win the game from here' or 'Who's playing for second place?' stories) - Mag - he had flair for days, but it was all with a purpose - the no look? to draw the defender off. The spin? To move away from the defense and create a better passing angle.

And Hornacek's game was as un-orthodox as they come - really it was anti-white.

 
At 2/28/2006 10:21 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

that's what i was saying before about bird. he had the form of a "white" game, but not it's function.

that aspect of magic is really part of what makes lebron, wade, and to a lesser degree melo, attractive to all kinds of audiences. flashy, yes, but never without a solid purpose.

 
At 2/28/2006 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people who want to make utah out to be a racist team should really pop your ignroant heads out of your asses and look at the numbers. Does Utah have white guys...yes...but heres another and more relavent question....Do they have more black than white?....YES. Also, the white guys they do have are good, and would start on any team in this league. Okur, AK, Harp(prob boarderline there), these guys would start on most teams in the league. So all of you people saying Utah is racist....maybe you should look in the mirror and ask yourself if its not you instead.

 
At 2/28/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

people really should look in the mirror before employing the "look in the mirror" cliche. are you saying that we'd realize that we run an incidentally racist nba franchise? that we hate "black" basketball because we mock a team for not having anything to do with it? that we hate white people because twe can't stand watching the jazz play?

 
At 2/28/2006 12:33 PM, Anonymous aug said...

This kind of thing always happens when everyone throws around all kinds of terms that can't be defined(style, blackness, whiteness, sloan-like, etc...). Not only that, everyone is using those words in different contexts in each post to make things more confusing and potentially insulting, racist, ignorant, and just plain stupid sounding. Everything makes sense in your head.

That being said, i think it's pretty hard to argue that the Jazz organization isn't identified with white, middle class america. A lot of them have been, fundamental, quiet(except for malone), hustling, non-athletic freaks(with a few exceptions), etc... Not to say that black society doesn't have the same blue collar, hard working attitude, but it's just the stereotype, which is what i think people are going off of but just toning it down a bit. Black stereotype basketball is that of the and 1 guys and the highlight reel jordan, while white stereotype basketball is the making up for lack of athleticism or natural talent with hustling, fundamentals and smart play, like a matt harpring or the hard nosed defense, and flawless fundamental exceuction of jordan. Obviously, none of this is competely fair or accurate all the time. It's just the stereotype that we tend to think of some of the times when the word black style and white style are thrown out there in basketball convos. They're just stupid stereotypes, that really add nothing to any discussion because of all the exceptions and flaws in their logic. I think that's where the comment board got off track, in that the whole time is now debating over what black and white basketball means which has been questioned over and over among my friends and i, freedarko, other basketball blogs/writers.

I think we can all agree that the superficial impression the jazz leaves on most nba fans and anyone who knows about basketball in general, is that they're a whiter team than anyone else. How true it is, can be debated as ChicagoJazzFan did as excellent a job as any of these posts in here, and i was a bit dissapointed to see his points quickly dismissed. Oh well, AK47 is great and all, but i would've loved him a whole lot more if he went with his preseason plan of making his face protective mask into some kind of superhero mask. If only...

 
At 2/28/2006 12:42 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i believe aug. whether or not we can nail down what makes ball black or white, we shouldn't have to do that to address the fact that the jazz leave a very white scent in the air. or to say that the clip joint was once black as hell. trying to forcefully define these terms doesn't work, but that doesn't refute the fact that some teams and players strike us as one way or the other. it's needlessl to make everyone/every franchise line up for judgement by criteria, but in some cases, you can't help but heed the specter

 
At 2/28/2006 1:25 PM, Anonymous aug said...

I agree, that's why i'm not ashamed to say that the jazz are seen as a very white team and the 01-02 clippers were arguabley one of the blackest teams as of late. That was what i was trying to say, it's just something that hits you when you see the jazz or the old clips. Whether or not it can be completely accurate when you break it down chicagojazzfan style, stats, history and facts can't change the fact that for some reason, you think "man, they're black/white" as far as individual players or teams are concerned. It's not what makes a player black(aggression and swagger? what the hell?) or fundamentals and hard working(chicagojazzfan mentioned tons of black athletes that fit that description which was what i was thinking all along), it's what gives us that instant impression or black or white and why that's really important.

It's crazy how fast the comments fill up these days because of the insane popularity and recognition(for such small site with such humble origins). I used to be able to read something the next day and be one of the first 3 people to comment. It's nice to see such a broad readership nowadays though. Congrats on everything.

 
At 2/28/2006 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a novel idea:

Judge a player by his game, not by his skin color.

 
At 2/28/2006 4:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

you can tell traffic off the jazz boards a mile away.

 
At 2/28/2006 5:10 PM, Anonymous tp said...

Am I missing something? Kris Humphries is white, right? I've been picking up on some comments that seem to imply he's black? What?

 
At 2/28/2006 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bethlehem Shoals: you're a fucking idiot if you really believe that Utah is anti-black. you epitomize the completely ignorant and flat-out impressively stupid assholes that stereotype all citizens of Salt Lake and the rest of the state as antediluvian and culturally stagnant. i've been to texas, and you can't tell me that there aren't any anti-black people there, too. there's an idiot everywhere, and apparently i am responding to one right now.

 
At 2/28/2006 6:32 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

dear anonymous, i've been to utah and i know it's not anti-black. i also never claim texas and would rather live somewhere else in the country. for the hundredth time, though, saying that a place is somewhat lacking in african-american presence--or pointing out this in a team--is not the same as calling it "anti-black."

that said, the mass-mobilization of jazz fans to our humble blog has made for some of the most dour and gratingly defensive conversation this blog has seen in ages. congratulations guys, you have given me at least one stereotype i didn't have before.

then again, why would you ever expect jazz fans to have a sense of irony or humor when it came to race?

 
At 2/28/2006 7:23 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

TP-kris humphries is half-white/half-black.

 
At 2/28/2006 8:38 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

Here's a distinction that might help make sense of what everyone is yelling about:
Employment discrimination law recognizes two standards for holding a firm liable. The first is Disparate Treatment, which is usually some form of intentional discrimination in hiring or promotion (i.e. "blacks need not apply"). The second is Disparate Impact, which says that a formally-neutral institution may nevertheless be discriminatory if it unintentionally favors the performances one group, and thus adversely effects another. So, in a typical case, Sears may have an equal opportunity hiring policy for the position of lawnmower salesman, but because they define the job qualifications in entirely gendered terms - salesmen have to be masculine, aggressive, etc - and because this leads to a disproportionately male workforce, they may held liable for gender discrimination under the disparate impact standard. If Even if Sears defends itself, saying, "its not our fault our workforce is male - women never apply for the job. if they did, we'd hire them" (what's called the Lack of Interest defense), they may still be liable. Here, the court recognizes that women’s' disinterest in selling lawnmowers is endogenous to the employment relationship - a product of the gendered definition of what it means to work at Sears.
The point is, to say an institution like the Jazz is discriminatory isn't necessarily saying that they are intentionally racist. It is simply saying that their institutional identity - the way they define 'good basketball' - may be structured in such a way that inadvertently privileges one group of players over another.

 
At 2/28/2006 10:38 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Interesting that in all this talk of race and the Jazz, nobody had mentioned the strangest element of the whole business.

The Jazz, founded in New Orleans and named after a black musical form, move to white, white, white SLC and... keep the name Jazz. It's the biggest non sequitur in sports. I don't know what it means, but it should be part of the discussion. I think the racial question has always been a big part of the Utah Jazz's identity and I can see them being unwilling to change their name for fear of tampering with that dynamic.

 
At 3/01/2006 12:18 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

aaron -
great point.

 
At 3/01/2006 9:54 AM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

"[T]hat said, the mass-mobilization of jazz fans to our humble blog has made for some of the most dour and gratingly defensive conversation this blog has seen in ages."

Though I disagree vehemently with both the premise of this entire thread, I have stated my case with facts and only a whisper of sarcasm. If I have been grating or defensive, I apologize, but, as a fan of the Jazz since 1980, I find many of these charges against the Jazz organization simultaneously ludicrous and irresponsible. The Jazz play a fundamentally sound brand of team basketball that finds its roots in the systems of Dick Motta and John Wooden. Both of those coaches and Jerry Sloan have purposely sought out and utilized players willing to play within "the system" on the offensive end and hard-nosed defense on the other end regardless of color. Thus, free-lancing individualists of any color unwilling to play defense need not apply. If that philosophy may disqualify certain black players (Marbury, Darius Miles, et al.) (and I'm not necessarily saying it does disqualify them since I have no insights into the inner-workings of the Jazz organization beyond what I've observed as a fan for the past 26 years), it simultaneously disqualifies certain white players (Jason Williams springs to mind). For fans to brand that style of play as inherently "white" simply ignores the reality that arguably the MAJORITY of black players have a hard-nosed work ethic and would fit perfectly within the Jazz system (see my post above and discussion below listing the types of black players who would fit wonderfully into the Jazz "system").

Sure, AND1 streetball harkens from the playgrounds of the inner-city and is a style most closely associated with black players, but that doesn't make all other styles of play automatically "white" or "non-black." Streetball is a comparitively recent phenomenon, and with the exception of certain high-flying acrobatic superstars of yesteryear (Dr. J, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor, and Connie Hawkins spring to mind), the majority of black trailblazers (no, not the Portland Trailblazers) in the NBA were fundamentally sound players who apparently now would be accused of playing "white" basketball. Which is not to say that Dr. J, Thompson, Baylor, and Hawkins were not "fundamentally sound" "team players" who would not fit into the Jazz -- they just happened to be distinguished by freakish athleticism and flash that set them apart from most of the rest of the league -- black and white players alike.

Based on your distinction between "white" and "black" basketball, here are some of the greatest "white" players in the history of the game:

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem
Allen, Ray
Archibald, Nate
Bellamy, Walt
Billups, Chauncey
Bing, Dave
Brand, Elton
Chamberlain, Wilt
Cheeks, Maurice
Dantley, Adrian
Dumars, Joe
Duncan, Tim
Ewing, Patrick
Frazier, Walt
Garnett, Kevin
Gilmore, Artis
Green, A.C.
Greer, Hal
Hawkins, Hersey
Hayes, Elvin
Haywood, Spencer
Hill, Grant
Johnson, Dennis
Johnson, Kevin
Jones, K.C.
Jones, Sam
Kidd, Jason
Lanier, Bob
Malone, Karl
Malone, Moses
Miller, Reggie
Moncrief, Sidney
Mourning, Alonzo
Murphy, Calvin
Nance, Larry
Oakley, Charles
Olajuwon, Hakeem
Parish, Robert
Payton, Gary
Pippen, Scottie
Reed, Willis
Richmond, Mitch
Robertson, Oscar
Robinson, David
Russell, Bill
Scott, Byron
Thurmond, Nate
Unseld, Wes
Walker, Chet
Wallace, Ben
Wilkens, Lenny
Wilkes, Jamaal
Willis, Kevin
Worthy, James

For the most part, these players favor substance over style, team play over individualism, high-percentage shots over flash, a workmanlike approach over chest-thumping, and hard-nosed defense at all times. Does this make them "white"? I'm sure they would disagree with this assertion. Moreover, based on these criteria -- which are those seemingly employed by many posters on this board to distinguish between the jump-shooting, fundamentally sound "white" game versus the high-flying, dunking, flash-over-substance, in-your-face "black" game -- Jordan and Magic also could just as easily have been viewed as "white" players as "black."

"The Jazz, founded in New Orleans and named after a black musical form, move to white, white, white SLC and... keep the name Jazz. It's the biggest non sequitur in sports."

Yes, a "Jazz" team in Utah is anacronistic, but some would say foresaking the team heritage also would be an even bigger shame. And, frankly, "Lakers" is even MORE anacronistic than "Jazz."

"The point is, to say an institution like the Jazz is discriminatory isn't necessarily saying that they are intentionally racist. It is simply saying that their institutional identity - the way they define 'good basketball' - may be structured in such a way that inadvertently privileges one group of players over another."

Without getting into all of the reasons this analogy to discrimination within the workplace is flawed -- it is NOT discriminatory to use job characteristics as the basis for hiring -- it also seems to make the racist assumption that one race is capable of playing fundamental, team basketball while another is not. As pointed out above, some of the greatest black players in NBA history have had very "white" games as defined by this board and would fit perfectly into the Jazz system if only they were available and willing to play for the Jazz.

"To answer the racial question: Yes, Utah Jazz does try to "whiten" their roster. It's completley obvious from their draft picks, free agent signings and Offensive sets (illegal back picks) and its done for their fan base."

Ignoring the flawed syllogism that "illegal back picks" is part of the Jazz efforts to "'whiten' their roster," this assertion is completely belied by the facts. The Jazz have pursued via free agency or draft a HIGHER percentage of blacks and minorities than comprise the rest of the NBA. As pointed out above, the Jazz have either signed or publicly pursued approximately 54 black players and other minorities compared to 16 white players -- a smaller percentage of whites than make up the NBA. In the last 2 drafts alone, the Jazz have drafted 5 black players and 0 white players. The fact that many black NBA players refuse to play in SLC -- which, by the way, seems to me to be far less "racist" than Chicago or Los Angeles (other places I have lived) -- is not the fault of the Jazz. Moreover, just because the organization has had the fortune (or misfortune) of ending up with some of the best white players in recent history -- Stockton, Kirilenko, Hornacek, Okur, and Harpring -- who have occupied roster spots that likely would otherwise have gone to black players doesn't mean that the Jazz organization's aim has been to find "white" players to the exclusion of "black" players. I guarantee you that the Jazz are out there trying to find the best players possible for their system, and that the vast majority of Jazz fans couldn't care less what color their players are. For what it's worth, Karl Malone was the most popular person in the entire State of Utah when he played (so was Dantley during his heyday), and could have won a race for Governor by a landslide. Sure, some of you may say that Karl Malone was as "white" as they come, but that, to me, is the ironically racist current that runs underneath all of these arguments.

 
At 3/01/2006 11:21 AM, Anonymous Aaron said...

No. While the name Lakers is anachronistic (and bothers me also), it's not as much a non sequitur as Utah Jazz.

I'm curious if the same people who say that forsaking the Jazz's team heritage would be an even bigger shame are the same who say that forsaking the Braves' team history would also be a shame. There's definitely a racial component here, I think.

Furthermore, this blog has always been simultaneously ludicrous and irresponsible. I think that's why most of the people here read it. They toss around things like blackness and whiteness without any semblance of a formal definition, because they understand that they're not trying for rigor and they're not making any sort of completely universal points. So your exhaustive lists will inevitably come off and grating and defensive, because nobody is here to make serious rigorous arguments, except for you.

 
At 3/01/2006 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This message board has turned into a Michael Jackson song. On the topic of blackness and whititude, try to wrap your minds around these two players and their styles:

Timmy Duncan
Josh Henderson

 
At 3/01/2006 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoals: If you try to link the Jazz or the state of Utah with the KKK, like you did in your edited post, expect some explosive responses. That's just a stupid thing to do. I'm not saying you're stupid, because you edited it in the first place, but be careful making those kind of connections. Us Utahns kan reed an rite two! We don't just play banjos and have children.
And for the record, there are many kickass Jazz festivals in Salt Lake. Don't lump the progressive capital city with the rest of this goddamn Mormon conservative state.
As for non-sequitir
PS: "Anachronisms" are objects that do not fit in their time, like a cuckoo clock in "Julius Caesar." But since when did intelligence matter in an opinion-based message board...

 
At 3/01/2006 11:37 AM, Anonymous J said...

Demographics tell us that the US has White 75.1%, Black or African American 12.3

Teams not picking this percentage of players would be considered Racist(see affirmative action) Making the Bulls and Jazz the least racist teams in the 90's.

The Jazz poster has shown you that the Jazz have taken 5-5 black players in the past two years, dispelling your preconceived ideas.

There are no Lakes in LA, but Utah's Jazz and Blues festival at Snowbird is known world wide to real Jazz music fans. One of the great Jazz clubs on the circuit in the early 20th century was the Chicken Roost south of Salt Lake City. Someone cast doubts on your racial ideas and you deflect it by casting dispersion on a name. I would consider this assassination of the character of a city by preconceived and not well thought up ideas.

Racism
rac·ism ( P )
Pronunciation Key (rszm)
n.
-The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
-Discrimination or prejudice based on race.


Well that kind of labels people here.

 
At 3/01/2006 11:46 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i specifically said that the jazz weren't like the kkk; i gave the "shutting out the qualified white man" stance on affirmative action as an example of how embracing something ostensibly raceless or color blind (like "playing hard") can actually take on racial connotations. not overt racism, but worth discussing as a gray area.

and as someone who has been a widely-read jazz critic in a major U.S. city, i can safely say that at this point, jazz is white as hell.

 
At 3/01/2006 12:29 PM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

"I'm curious if the same people who say that forsaking the Jazz's team heritage would be an even bigger shame are the same who say that forsaking the Braves' team history would also be a shame. There's definitely a racial component here, I think."

Huh? How is one team keeping a team name when it moves from one location to another where the name has no racially-charged or pejorative meaning even possibly relevant to whether another team should change its name as the result of its possible racial connotations? The two examples simply are irrelevant to each other.

Of course, this doesn't even get into my own opinion that forcing a team to change its name from the "Braves" because it may be deemed racially offensive is just plain silly. To my knowledge, the name "Braves" is meant to honor a grand tradition of Native American leaders and warriors, not deride them. If certain images and marketing tools are employed to promote that team that are offensive, then, fine, let's debate whether the team should be compelled to abandon those images and marketing tools, but to force them to change their name? That seems almost Orwellian.

On the other hand, I acknowledge that "Redskins" may have a pejorative connotation, and where to draw the line may be difficult.

 
At 3/01/2006 1:50 PM, Anonymous Nightingale said...

"[A]s someone who has been a widely-read jazz critic in a major U.S. city, i can safely say that at this point, jazz is white as hell."

Shoals - I couldn't agree more. This could be an entire post of its own (the similarities between jazz and ball as race relates to inherent "credibility"), but that can wait for another day. One thing is for sure, though: jazz will always be perceived as "black." Which leads me to my point:

"[W]hether or not we can nail down what makes ball black or white, we shouldn't have to do that to address the fact that the Jazz leave a very white scent in the air."

Agreed. Further even if the Jazz traded away every white player on the team, the Jazz would still be perceived as "white" (at least in my eyes). It has to be a function of Sloan, the SLC, the fan base, and (team) history.

 
At 3/01/2006 8:35 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

ChicagoJazzFan,

Where to begin?
First off, let me again reiterate that no one on this board is claiming that the Jazz are an intentionally racist organization. What we're saying is that, by valuing a certain style of play, that organization may have racist (discriminatory) consequences for the players that confront it. Call this distinction #1 - intentional vs. institutional racism.

Distinction #2: Signifiers vs. Predicates. We use the words "blackness" and "whiteness" to describe a style of play. That this style happens to correlate with actual race is ancillary to our objective. In contrast, you seem hell bent on making "whiteness" the predicate of an actual, objective virtue - the innate capacity for "fundamental, team-play". You go on to insist that this equation isn't racist, since whiteness/fundamentals as a normative predicate can coexist with blackness as a physical one - thus, we're the ones who make "the racist assumption that one race is capable of playing fundamental, team basketball while another is not." Yet the fact that Grant Hill meets your standard while Jason Williams fails it doesn't refute our argument - it makes it for us. In semiotic terms, White Chocolate is 1000 times blacker than the bourgeois Hill.

You reject my employment discrimination analogy on the grounds that "it is NOT discriminatory to use job characteristics as the basis for hiring". That's true, but only if the 'job characteristics' in question are necessary and legitimate for performing the job. Hard as it may be to believe, your sacred code of "fundamentals" is as irrelevant to actual league success as its blacktop antitheses are to failure. Remove all that stuff about hard-work and hustle (neither of which are exclusive to fundamentals ball) and all you're really saying is "shit that reminds me of Bob Cousy". Fundamentals is a style, not a job characteristic. But by your own (repeated) admission, it remains the prerequisite for "fitting into the Jazz System". If you can't see the racist consequences of such a policy, I don't know what else to say.
then again, at least you didn't write this:

Demographics tell us that the US has White 75.1%, Black or African American 12.3 Teams not picking this percentage of players would be considered Racist(see affirmative action) Making the Bulls and Jazz the least racist teams in the 90's.

wow.

 
At 3/02/2006 12:05 AM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

With all due respect, I think you're splitting hairs. You say that no one is claiming that the Jazz are "intentionally" racist, yet conclude that the Jazz style of play has "racist consequences." Are you using the term "racist" in a colloquial sense, just as you claim to be using the terms "blackness" and "whiteness" purely to describe a style of play? For someone as unschooled in the blogspeak of this particular crowd as I am, I concede that I suppose that is what you COULD be saying, but most other posters seem to be saying something very different, and, quite frankly, so do you.

You and I clearly come from very different backgrounds and have a very different set of beliefs about what constitutes racism and what does not. Your conclusion that by valuing a certain style of play, the Jazz organization has "racist (discriminatory) consequences for the players that confront it" simply tells me that we're going to have to agree to disagree. Your conclusion is that fundamental play has racist consequences.

My conclusion is that by playing a team-oriented, fundamental style that was played by all colors of players long before streetball was ever invented, the Jazz organization has adopted a philosophy that it believes gives the Jazz team a better chance to win than another style and is a style that can be played (and is, in fact, played) by players of all colors. That some players of all colors seem unwilling or unable to play this brand of basketball doesn't mean that adopting this philosophy has a necessarily racist consequence.

As I have explained in my earlier posts, I also disagree that the Jazz style of play "happens to correlate with actual race." That is YOUR conclusion; not mine. It is not me who is "hell bent on making 'whiteness' the predicate of an actual, objective virtue" it is YOU who pretend that "fundamental, team-play" has a "racist consequence" -- which can mean only one thing: that you really believe it EXCLUDES or DISCRIMINATES against "black" players.

Your selection of a single example -- Hill vs. "White Chocolate" -- to make your point also is deeply flawed. I would love to see someone on this board tell Kareem or Robert Parish or Wes Unseld or Ben Wallace that "White Chocolate" is "1000 times blacker" than their "bourgeois" asses. I have a feeling they would feel differently.

Regardless, this example makes my point: fundamental, team play accepts all colors willing to play within this system; and AND1, individual, chest-thumping streetball accepts all colors who wish to carry this banner (heck, I see a couple of white guys on the AND1 circuit even now).

You concede that my distinction on your job discrimination analogy is fair, but breaks down at the point that "job characteristics" are not "necessary and legitimate for performing the job." Where YOUR argument breaks down is when you suggest that "'fundamentals' is . . . irrelevant to actual league success." Do you really believe this? Have you ever coached basketball? I guaranty you that if you polled the 50 most successful basketball coaches in NBA history (or NCAA history), 49 of them (if not all 50) would tell you that the biggest keys to success are fundamental, team play at the offensive end, and rugged, hustling, position defense at the other end. Did you not watch the most recent Summer Olympics? While it would be fallacious to draw any definitive conclusions from this single example, the U.S. team's struggles against far inferior talent demonstrated in spades just how far off base your conclusion is. The history of basketball is littered with teams who had superior talent, but simply were unsuccessful due to a lack of fundamental, team play. If you can't see the truth in this, I don't know what else to say.

 
At 3/02/2006 2:22 AM, Anonymous Jimbo said...

Wow, 70-odd comments? I know part of that has to do with the nature of the particular post, but it seems like there's been more and more activity lately. Which is fantastic, and reflects the good work done by both authors and comment-ors (commentators doesn't seem the right word).

Could I make a humble suggestion to Shoals and Co.? It might be worth thinking what the effect of the increased popularity will be, particularly if you're getting a lot of casual readers. I mean, I don't agree with everything you guys write and to some extent I think your blackness/whiteness dichotomies are flawed, but I've read enough here that I'm not likely to every post an angry comment accusing you of being racist sons of bitches who are trying to stereotype everyone. But what about someone whose experience is only the latest post?

I don't know what the answer is* or even if this is a serious issue. But you know, as empires grow their maintenance becomes exponentially more difficult. Good luck.

* Maybe you could add a disclaimer, or replace all instances of 'blackness' and 'whiteness' with 'Freedarko-ness' and 'anti-Freedarko-ness' or 'Amare-ism' and 'Dumars-ism. (Although that would just be euphemistic and reduce the significance of the discussion).

Jimbo.

P.S. This latest round of comments has been really interesting and this isn't meant to be a roundabout attack on any of those who've responded (well maybe a couple of the more ignorant ones. And maybe the long alphabetical lists of players aren't totally necessary. But overall great.)

 
At 3/02/2006 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Further even if the Jazz traded away every white player on the team, the Jazz would still be perceived as "white" (at least in my eyes). It has to be a function of Sloan, the SLC, the fan base, and (team) history."


Don't statements like this throw intelligence, education, reason, logic, and fairness to the wind in favor of biased, racist and stereotypical doggedness?

So you think you have "the SLC" nailed down, hmmm? Enough to let ignorance lead the words you type (and presumably SPEAK), apparently.

And the Jazz' "fan base" too? Are you even being serious? Let's get serious for a moment... because when you say "fan base" you aren't really talking about any blacks that happen to live in Salt Lake City and root for the local NBA team, right? You're not talking about ANY minority, are you?

No. You're talking about the Mormons. You are talking about their "whiteness" as you perceive it. And you are admitting that even if all the players on the team were black, it is a religion (and Sloan's "illegal" back picks) that would dictate your tongue and your finger tips.

I'm sorry my brother. That's as racist an ethos as I can even dream up. It is beyond the pale that you would even state it.

Any white "air" or "impression" or "taste left in your mouth" by the Jazz organization isn't a function of their "text". It's a function of the decisions you make before you even watch a game that involves the team. It's a function of the distaste you had for watching Stockton run the pick and roll with Malone for the nth time against whatever team it is that you root for. It's a function of the history you perceived as a basketball fan, and is therefore driven by one of the most insidious factions of media fraternity in the world. A fraternity of reporters and on-air personalities that stir up the type of controversey and baseless myth that would rival that of the staffs of the Enquirer or the Weekly World News... and it is so painfully obvious that your views have not only been programmed into you, but that you are determined to stubbornly and ignorantly hold to that reification as if it were a flag to hold above your brow.

Did a pair of missionaries knock on your door? Were they rude? Did they drop a racial slur on their way out? Is there any way I can apologize in their behalf and alter your skewed perception? Because you've said yourself that you would judge this team based on their "fan base"... I just want to know if you will ever speak intelligently and objectively about this topic again.

 
At 3/02/2006 7:48 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

ChicagoJazzFan

Of course you're absolutely right that Fundamentals as a set of skills and dispositions - team offense, hustle, etc. - have everything to do with success. I don't believe otherwise. What I meant by "fundamentals" (in quotation marks) was instead a certain style of play, which is why I explicitly distinguished it from "hard work and hustle" and the other Fundamentals we agree to be important. I now realize that I should have been more clear about what that difference is. Let me try it again.

Before the 3-point shoot-out, our comrade ForeverBurns wrote a very funny parody of jump-shot "fundamentalism" and the heterodoxy of Quentin Richardson. This is the kind of fundamentalism I had in mind in the last comment - a kind that I believe has no role in determining success. For instance, I suspect we'd agree that that Chris Mullin, Reggie Miller and Shawn Marion, despite their differential command of jump-shot fundamentalism, are nevertheless roughly equal in their talents and successes. What's important is that they score: how they score is matter of style.

If you look back to the early comments, the original fundamental vs. non-fundamental distinction came up in this exact context – specifically, in a discussion of Hornacek's floater. In evaluating Hornacek’s “whiteness”, the question settled on whether his floater was or was not a ‘fundamental shot’. Notice that this is not an issue of Fundamentals - Hornacek's actual skill - but rather a particular arrangement of signifiers (orthodox, floater, etc.)

Our discussion only changed to capital-F Fundamentals when YOU YOURSELF intervene. Money quote:

"While it may be true that the Jazz play a fairly distinct brand of basketball, comparing fundamentally sound basketball to "people who oppose affirmative action out of concern for the vicitimization of white folks" is both ludicrous and offensive."

Prior to this interjection, there had been no reference to “fundamentally sound basketball” in the discussion. The term “fundamental” had been ascribed to Hornacek’s floater, not Hornacek himself. You continue:

The view that "fundamental" or "team" basketball is inherently white just because it isn't And1 Streetball seems itself to smack of racism

But no one had said the Jazz were “inherently white”. Indeed, just a few comments before, Hornacek had almost been declared black!
It was YOU who set the equation Utah = Whiteness = Fundamentally-Sound Basketball. And it is your own equation that is responsible for the following unsavory consequences.

1) The original distinction between restraint and swagger had been a distinction between styles of play. Here, swagger was clearly defined as an addition to foundational talents. In contrast, you are forced to redefine ‘swagger’ merely as the absence of Fundamental skills: laziness vs. hustle; selfishness vs. teamwork; showboat vs. workmanlike.

2. You present a list of “some of the greatest ‘white’ players in the history of basketball”. Many on this list are black. Yet you never offer a complementary list of “the greatest ‘black’ players in the history of basketball”. The reason for this is not entirely clear.

3. Most significantly: in order for black players to make it on this list or be imagined as fitting into ‘the Jazz system’, they must assume the qualities and meet the conditions associated with Jazz-style play. These are not only limited to the Fundamentals (which you rightly argue are colorblind) - they concern the style of players as well:

but the players you seek to distinguish from the Jazz style…ALL could be as workmanlike as any players in the game. As flamboyant and high-flying as Jordan's game could be, he wasn't a chest-thumping, Terrell Owens-type showboat….That's why I think they would have been perfect in Sloan's system, and I DON'T think Sloan would have had to change his "style" or would have been somehow less successful with those players in his system.

In other words, any player can "fit into the Jazz system", as long as they are willing to assimilate their own personal style of play to that of Jerry Sloan. This alone tells us nothing. But when you combine it with consideration of the “stated preference of many minority players NOT to play in Utah” , its hard to deny that the style being assimilated to isn't just fundamentals - its whiteness.

 
At 3/02/2006 10:14 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

although i am eagerly awaiting the next installment of chijazzfan vs. silverbird5000 2000, i did want to say something quick fast about our "irresponsible" usage of "black" and "white" in basketball talk.

one of the major problems with this here internets is that, especially when readers are just following a link, the whole issue of context goes out the window. especially if you came here to read one and one piece only, and were referred by a message board community that has an identity all its own, and saw this single post as something that needed addressing according to YOUR terms.

you can say we're careless, racist, imprecise, snotty, vague, or irrelevant, but that ignores the fact that we're not really writing with the "single post goes out into the world and makes a universal statement" model in mind. for better or worse, a lot of what gets said here--right down to the way we throw around certain terms and the tone we take when doing so--has a lot to do with the context of this site (and the context furnished by the site itself).

i guess i'm just hoping that, before people jump to judge us on a single post, that they take about twenty seconds to skim something else and get a sense of our general perspective on things. i'm not saying that we deserve more of anyone's time than it takes to look at one post (and 80 comments!!), but jumping on us without understanding our motivations and institutional mission is kind of a waste of everyone's time.

if you want to argue then, though--with either the original post or the very fact that we exist--by all means go ahead.

 
At 3/02/2006 12:42 PM, Anonymous aug said...

I meant to ask earlier, but are there more pictures in the melo/ak47 series? I wouldn't be against seeing ak doing a keg stand and i'm not above laughing at seeing melo doing a body shot. I guess i am very immature.

 
At 3/08/2006 5:04 PM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

"Our discussion only changed to capital-F Fundamentals when YOU YOURSELF intervene. Money quote:

'While it may be true that the Jazz play a fairly distinct brand of basketball, comparing fundamentally sound basketball to "people who oppose affirmative action out of concern for the vicitimization of white folks" is both ludicrous and offensive.'"

First of all, it is curious that you cite a quote from "Money" and attribute it to "YOU YOURSELF" -- i.e., me. Regardless, your point is simply fallacious. The discussion of "race" versus the colloquial "white" versus "black" styles of play was injected into this thread in a very early post, long before I came along, when elandfried made the leap that this "white style" of play was the only type of basketball that would be accepted in Utah allegedly because "[n]o black people live in Utah," and, therefore, Sloan doesn't have "much of a choice about drafting and signing mostly 'whitish' players. It's Utah people."

THAT is the post that I think sent this colloquial discussion you apparently were having about "styles" over the line to the actual race of the players who play these styles -- along with the strong implication that black players simply are not wanted by "Utah people."

Consequently, your additional suggestion that it was my equation of fundamental play with white players is simply inaccurate. I simply took offense to the suggestion that "Utah people" do not want black players or a "black style" of play, and responded with an explanation about why that was simply inaccurate.

"1) The original distinction between restraint and swagger had been a distinction between styles of play. Here, swagger was clearly defined as an addition to foundational talents. In contrast, you are forced to redefine ‘swagger’ merely as the absence of Fundamental skills: laziness vs. hustle; selfishness vs. teamwork; showboat vs. workmanlike."

You're putting words in my mouth (or, more accurately, into my keyboard). I am the newbie here and apparently lack the ability to distinguish between YOUR nuanced distinction between "black" and "white" play. I simply pointed out that, regardless of how YOU characterize the Jazz play, Jazz fans, like myself, view the Jazz style of play as consisting primarily of (i) fundamentally sound, team oriented offense; and (ii) tough, hardnosed defense. If YOU or this board wish to say that this is a "white" style of play, that is YOUR terminology, not mine.

"2. You present a list of “some of the greatest ‘white’ players in the history of basketball”. Many on this list are black. Yet you never offer a complementary list of “the greatest ‘black’ players in the history of basketball”. The reason for this is not entirely clear."

Again, you're putting words in my mouth. The suggestion was made that Utah people don't cotton to blacks playing for the Jazz. I presented a list of some of the greatest black players of all time, all of whom would fit very well into Sloan's system. I'm sure Sloan and his staff would add scores of other black players to that list. As for the lack of clarity in my rationale for not listing a bunch of white players, no one ever suggested that white players would not be palatable to "Utah people," so such a list would have been irrelevant.
"3. Most significantly: in order for black players to make it on this list or be imagined as fitting into ‘the Jazz system’, they must assume the qualities and meet the conditions associated with Jazz-style play. These are not only limited to the Fundamentals (which you rightly argue are colorblind) - they concern the style of players as well:"

For the record, I'm not Jerry Sloan. I have no idea which players he would like to see play in his system. I have no idea whether any players "must assume" any particular "qualities" or "meet" any particular "conditions" -- I only can speculate as a fan that certain players would fit better within the system than others, regardless of color. And, it is this "regardless of color" qualifier that causes me to question your conclusion that Sloan's system is somehow inherently "racist." Perhaps we are not too far apart on this point since your most recent post seems to backtrack to the point that you almost seem to concede that Sloan's system is not inherently "racist" as you alleged earlier.

"In other words, any player can 'fit into the Jazz system', as long as they are willing to assimilate their own personal style of play to that of Jerry Sloan. This alone tells us nothing. But when you combine it with consideration of the 'stated preference of many minority players NOT to play in Utah' , its hard to deny that the style being assimilated to isn't just fundamentals - its whiteness."

Your conclusion is flawed. The black players who have stated publicly that they would not play in Utah have used the rationale that SLC is very white (compared to most NBA cities, this is probably a fair observation), and that they would not be comfortable in the SLC culture (an assumption probably based on less than complete information and a perceived bias perpetuated in part by the East Coast media that views Utah and its predominant religion as backwards). It has nothing to do with the Jazz style of play.

Regardless, the "stated preference of many minority players NOT to play in Utah" is a phenomenon more recent than Sloan's playing and coaching style. Sloan has played and coached the same way long before there was even a franchise in Utah. It's not as if he was hired as Utah's coach, realized that Utah might be handicapped in its ability to attract black players, and adopted a "white" style of play to cater to the "Utah people" and the makeup of the Jazz team. It's always been Sloan's style ever since he learned it from Dick Motta before Utah even had a franchise. So, your reliance on the fact that certain black players are biased against Utah as a predicate to your conclusion that "the style being assimilated to [sic] isn't just fundamentals - its [sic] whiteness" is flawed and makes it very easy to deny your conclusion.

The long and the short of it is that Sloan's style has nothing to do with Utah's predominantly white population, and to suggest otherwise is not only wrong, but it also is offensive to those of us who actually have some experience with both Utah culture and the Jazz organization.

 
At 3/09/2006 3:18 PM, Anonymous Frankie Figs said...

"First of all, it is curious that you cite a quote from "Money" and attribute it to "YOU YOURSELF" -- i.e., me. "

Really? That is some money unintentional comedy.

 
At 3/09/2006 9:10 PM, Blogger ChicagoJazzfan said...

I was kidding, figs. While my dry humor may not be readily discernible on paper, I would have thought the obviously intelligent posters on this board would have been able to pick that out. Apparently my jokes aren't as "money" as my quotes.

 
At 5/17/2013 5:39 PM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

I don't know if they are only an anti-cultural movement or Asian's country army. Sportsbook Betting community will have a great discussion about it.

 

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