Posted by: Shauna Brock on January 24th, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
It began with Miami. Rolling into the ESA, all high and mighty and at the top of a game they and the media play so well. Miami, expected to win everything versus Utah, who always finishes well even though they are expected to win nothing. Miami, who wanted revenge for a loss they suffered at the hands of a hodge-podge, rough and tumble team that is more muscle than finesse. Miami, who takes their talents, their agents, and their media coverage world-wide because that is the way Lebron and company want it.
Then came Dallas. Dallas with their MVP candidate center and a swagger bred from the cocky and youthful ownership of Marc Cuban. Dallas, a team that like Utah has never won a championship and hungers for one the way the Permian Panthers seek the state high school championship every year.
And Dallas again. In Dallas. With the three ball landing time after time after time and the confidence of the team eroding with each and every shot. The Jazz outplayed the boys from Big D that night, except for the first quarter and that first quarter did them in.
Confidence. With each game since those three we have seen the confidence of this team erode. Bit by bit, the first trickle of an avalanche down a mountain, until it snowballed into the eastern conference road trip that left Jazz Nation gasping for air and seeking a solution that can only come from within the hearts and minds of the team itself.
The slow starts are not about slow starts, they are about believing they can work together to pull it out. The poor defense against the shot is not about a lack of passion but about believing that they have each other’s backs. The shooting percentage is in fact about confidence. It’s about knowing that when the shot goes up, it’s going to go in.
It seems stupid to talk about confidence when it comes to an NBA team. Kelly Dwyer over at Yahoo sports did a piece about the Cavs where he talked about how these are grown men making millions of dollars to play a child’s game and how talking about how losses hurt makes players sound silly. But he also said that these are grown men and grown men have pride. But the heart of what Mr. Dwyer is saying is that like the rest of us, basketball players can suffer a lack of confidence when it comes to their jobs. And right now, the Jazz have about as much confidence as the new kid at school.
In this time of exhaustion and fear, as we stare at this team that sits a game and a half back of Oklahoma City, let us remember a few things.
1) They’ll get their confidence back. Each team, every season has a low point. Right now, we are suffering through the Jazz’s.
2) Last year, the San Antonio Spurs also had seven new players. They hung around the bottom of playoff contention but still made it in. Look at them this year.
3) Even with the road trip, the Jazz are still ahead of last year’s pace (by one game, but still ahead).
Confidence. It’s about believing they can come together and play the game they love. They are not always going to be the most talented match up on the court. They are however destined to be magical – if they can find their confidence again.
The Jazz are ready to break through. They just have to believe it.
It began with the loss to Miami and what was a slow movement down a mountain has become an avalanche. The snow cascades and coats the team and the bench and when the guys lift their heads, they are sore and bruised and they don’t want to climb up and try again. They know they are better than this, and because they know they are better than this, they think too hard and that makes them lose. It’s a cycle that all of us are perfectly capable of falling into. Even professional basketball players. As fans, we can gripe about trades and lineup changes and all the things that seem wrong. But in the end, the Jazz are the ones who have to play the game.
So what’s next?
Only they know.
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