Posted by: Danny-Hansen on April 28th, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
In the 80’s he was one of the most hated men to enter the Salt Palace and Boston Garden. In the 90’s he was one of the most hated men in Canada, on NBC, and in the CBA. And in this last decade he was the most hated men in New York. I speak, of course, about Isiah Thomas. This is a guy who has had the highest highs and the lowest lows. Yet among all of the bad of Isiah’s career, I came across this pearl of wisdom from Isiah about how to win as an NBA franchise. His words strongly reminded me of this year’s Jazz team. His words are contained in the book The Franchise by Cameron Stauth, which chronicles the run of the Detroit Pistons in that era. In the book, Isiah offers these gems.
“But it’s hard not to be selfish. The art of winning is complicated by statistics, which for us becomes money. Well, you gotta fight that, find a way around it.
“Lots of times, on our team, you can’t tell who the best player in the game was. ‘Cause everybody did something good. That’s what makes us so good. The other team has to worry about stopping eight or nine people instead of two or three. It’s the only way to win. The only way to win. That’s the way the game was invented.”
This Jazz team is defined by the fact that they play like a team. During the TNT postgame after Game 4, Chris Webber and Charles Barkley pointed out that the Jazz win cause they don’t rely on one player to get things done. They have a system that finds the open man. It has been called an “equal-opportunity system”. But the system only works, if the players on the team are willing to make the extra pass and move without the ball. During the regular season, the Jazz lead the league in assists per game. And in this playoffs, the Jazz are doing the same. The system is working.
It is important to point out, that none of the Jazz players this postseason seem to be playing for their next contract, meaning none seem to be trying to do everything by themself. They are relying on each other to get an open shot, or rotate on defense.
Jerry Sloan pointed out:
â€œIt’s fun to watch what they’re trying to accomplish,â€ Sloan said. â€œIf we can run our offense and execute it, and set screens to help each other, I think we can score every time — if we can make the shot.â€
Another key ingredient to success is that everybody is contributing. In Game 2, it was a hot Korver off the bench that fueled the Jazz to victory. In Game 3, Paul Millsap saved the Jazz from disaster with a near 20-20 performance. In Game 4, Wesley Matthews and CJ Miles had big scoring nights. Kyrylo Fesenko has been clogging up the middle for the whole series. Ronnie Price has had some great defensive plays. Kosta Koufos has had some key 2nd half buckets. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer have been amazing all series. It is everybody doing what they can for the team and not themselves. It is refreshing to watch in today’s NBA.
In the movie, Hoosiers, Coach Norman Dale describes the way basketball is to be played. He said, “Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit: team, team, team – no one more important than the other.” And that is what the Jazz are doing in this series. They are winning with teamwork and unselfishness. And though it seems a little old-fashioned, it is working. A team missing two starters, both of whom are former All-Stars, a team with 3 undrafted rookies on the roster (not to mention one in the starting lineup), and a team with only 3 first round picks on the roster is running a division champion out of the building. If that’s not winning like a team, then I don’t know what is.
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