In retrospect, I should have framed the argument differently.
The logic was seductively simple—the Dubs kill us. The Rockets and Spurs don’t. Every round we avoid the Dubs is another round Zaza Pachulia’s dangerously oversized head could cause catastrophic injury. If you slow down the game tape, that Durant collision could have been far worse.
But arguments involving conditional probabilities and demonstrated matchup advantages apparently don’t hold much sway with Doc. Nor am I sure the multiple handwritten letters I sent to Adam Silver demanding to see more Alan Anderson during nationally televised Clipper games ever reached their intended audience. Mr. Silver, I get that players need their rest. But I pay good money to share League Pass with 30 other people. And on a primetime Saturday night game, a game the NBA relentlessly markets as THE marquee matchup of the week, I don’t get to see either Alan Anderson OR Paul Pierce try to guard Kawhi Leonard? Unacceptable.
All those arguments fell on deaf ears. Instead, what I should have said was this: the Utah Jazz are wack, and I don’t want to spend a week and a half of playoff basketball thinking about them.
At their best, the Jazz are vaguely reminiscent of those Frank Vogel-coached Indiana Pacers teams that challenged Lebron and the Heat in the early 2010’s. The Jazz aren’t as accomplished yet, but there’s the underpinnings of something similar: a young, hungry, defensive-minded small-market team with a dynamic wing (Paul George/Gordon Hayward), an intimidating rim protector (pre-sucky Roy Hibbert/Rudy Gobert), a young and talented head coach (Vogel/Quinn), and a fan base whose loyalty and passion is only rivaled by its whiteness.
That Indiana team may not have been exceptionally pleasant to watch, but that squad was fun to root for—or at least had identifiable personalities you could base an opinion on. Lance Stephenson blew kisses at Lebron. Roy Hibbert was funny on Parks and Rec. George Hill didn’t have a personality, but his hair did.
The Jazz are as excruciating to watch as those Pacers teams, without any of the fun. They are literally George Hill without George Hill’s hair.
Look, I know it’s cliche to say, because they’re the Jazz and they play in Utah. But I’m sorry—the Jazz* are fucking boring. Hayward is boring. Hill without his Sisqo hair is boring. Gobert has a great nickname and is French and has a 48 foot wing span and still somehow manages to be kind of boring. And for nearly a decade, no one has definitively proven that Joe Johnson is not in fact clinically dead.
*An important distinction here: we are defining the “Jazz” as those players not named Boris Diaw. Because Boris is objectively awesome and obviously belongs somewhere else. Even Google gets it.
The Clippers have been in the playoffs for so many consecutive seasons (I will never get tired of writing that) that it’s somewhat strange to encounter a first-round opponent with which we don’t have some historically protracted beef. At some point during the series, the combination of playoff tensions and questionable refereeing and the inevitability of Chris doing that thing where he deliberately runs into Gobert at mid-court will make the Jazz and Clippers hate each other (or at least the Jazz hate us). But heading into the series, we’ll have to invent some of the enmity ourselves. Again, mostly because they’re so boring.
In that spirit, here’s a primer to hating your 2016-2017 Utah Jazz.
Please, please watch this video. In its entirety.
There’s so much to digest here. Where to begin?
Let’s start with fact-checking our friendly KSL-5 anchors Ashley Moser and Dave McCann. Nothing against the unassailable integrity of the KSL-5 news team—it takes some Ed Murrow-sized journalistic balls to devote a four minute segment to Gordon Hayward’s hair—but in an era of “fake news”, it’s important to get our facts right. Is Gordon’s hair really taking Salt Lake City by storm? Are, as Ashley claims, both “young and old trying to replicate the haircut in the Beehive state?”
I should have never doubted you, KSL-5.
Even Doc, who has repeatedly tried to legally adopt Gordon, couldn’t resist the fad. And honestly, it kind of works on him.
There’s lots you can choose to hate about this video. But perhaps the most objectionable moment comes at the 3:25 mark, when Gordon is asked if he envies anyone else’s hair in the NBA.
Gordon: “I’m gonna go out on a limb and say I have the best hair in the NBA.”
Gordon’s stylist: “I think if GQ says it, it’s pretty safe to say.”
If you would have told me in October a former Clipper would be second in the league in three-point percentage at the end of the season, and asked me to guess who it was, here’s how the exchange would have gone.
“Man, that’s tough. Former Clipper eh? EJ, in a comeback year?”
“Nope. But good guess”
“Jesus, not Dudley. Dudley?”
“You sure it’s not Bledsoe?”
“Yes, not Bledsoe.”
“Cause it could be Bledsoe.”
“Dude it’s not Bledsoe.”
“Uhhh Kerry Kittles still active?”
“Ok, I give up. Who is it?”
“You gotta be fucking kidding me.”
Joe Ingles is shooting 45% from deep, and is second in the league among qualified shooters. Ingles is the second leading candidate for the annual Patty Mills Award, aka the “guy who makes you throw your beer at the TV after he hits back to back corner threes against the Clippers in a playoff game.”
The leading candidate?
If someone on the Jazz is going to start some shit with the Clippers, my money is on Lyles.
First, there’s a documented history of “I’m frustrated so I’m going to hit somebody” clips.
Second, Lyles is also apparently a big Kobe guy. So much so that his twitter handle is literally @treymambalyles. And if you grew up idolizing Kobe, you’re obviously indifferent to human suffering. Even Jazz fans will agree with that.
Third, there’s something about guys who are slightly undersized at the four that make them volatile assholes. Draymond, Z-Bo, PJ Tucker...Once Blake starts backing Lyles down with his patented “how your dad played you 1 one 1 when you were 12” post moves, Lyles is going to start playing dirty. Luckily, Blake has experience in that department.
That’s it for now. We’ll explore the rest of the Jazz roster next weekend.
As always, shout-out to Clips Nation artist-in-residence Connor for the beautiful ‘shops. Connor, you are the Craig Smith to my not Craig Smith.