Posted by: Danny Hansen on May 7th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
With the Jazz facing an 0-3 deficit to the Spurs, it has become clear that they are breaking one of the main rules of the Playoffs: You can’t play scared. All we have heard about for the past week and a half is how great the Spurs are. We have heard from national and local media (one local beat writer in particular), coaches, and now some players. Yes, you need to respect your opponent, but there is a line. And the Jazz have crossed it. When you start praising the greatness of your opponent so much that you start to believe it, you have crossed said line. Which brings me to Ivan Drago.
This whole series against San Antonio can’t help but remind me of Rocky IV. Yes the one with the guy who looks like Andrei Kirilenko on the juice. In Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa must go up against an unbeatable opponent. Nobody is giving him a chance, not even his wife gave him a chance. “You can’t win!” she screamed at him. Yet Rocky decided to fight him anyway.
In one of the better scenes from a sports movie, it is the 2nd round of his fight against the Russian, Rocky is just trying to any way not to get knocked out after getting pulverized in the first round. In the middle of the second round, Rocky gives his hardest 3 counter swings and cuts Ivan Drago over his eye. Rocky then is on the attack landing punch after punch and winning the round.
After the round, Rocky’s trainer takes him to his corner and gave Rocky this reminder, “You cut him! You hurt him! You see, he’s not a machine! He’s a man!” Rocky then went out and stood toe to toe with the Russian for the rest of the fight. Now, as I said, the Jazz are playing scared. They seem to think the Spurs are a machine that they can’t beat, but in reality the Spurs are just men. If you come out swinging and fighting, they will respond differently.
As far as I have seen, really only 2 players in this series, through their off-court comments and on-court play, have not been scared. These are Derrick Favors and Alec Burks. Other players seem intimidated by the moment and their opponent. Al Jefferson is so enamored with Tim Duncan that he is thinking too much and not playing basketball, a common flaw shared by former Jazzman Carlos Boozer. Other Jazzmen aren’t sure whether to guard the 3 point line or the paint. And collectively as a whole they aren’t attacking. They are now down 0-3 and I fear some may have given up.
Which finally brings me to Amare Stoudemire. I have to say first, that I think Amare is a knucklehead. He essentially gave his team no chance to win Game 3, when he took himself out by punching the glass covering over a fire extinguisher after a Game 2 loss and severely cutting his hand,. However, I deeply respect what he did yesterday with the Knicks down 0-3 to the Heat. It would have been easy to say, “Teams don’t come back from 0-3. Why even play?” But he did, and he played with a heavily bandaged, and I am sure, sore hand. And they won. Will they win the series? Probably not, but they showed that they care and that was led by Amare. Now, with the Jazz down 0-3, it is time for them to do the same thing. This is a winnable game, and the Jazz need to fight for it.
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