Jazz Fans Can Be Thankful For These Three Things
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Okay, there’s no denying 2020 has been tough. Luckily, we’re reaching the end of the tumultuous year, and with the Utah Jazz nearing a return, there are plenty of things for anxious basketball fans to be thankful for this season.
Since you likely have a Thanksgiving turkey that needs carving, let’s waste no more time getting to the three things Jazz fans should be celebrating this year.
Five Things For Jazz Fans To Be Thankful For
1. Donovan Mitchell’s Extension
Somehow, a handful of dreary Jazz fans have found nothing but misery in Donovan Mitchell’s recent five-year, $193 million max contract extension. Those fans argue the Jazz gave Mitchell too many allowances between a fifth-year player option and a 15 percent kicker should the Jazz choose to move him in a trade.
Truthfully, that’s like fretting over your long lost Aunt Edna forgetting your middle name in the document where she left you a massive family inheritance.
When the Jazz drafted Mitchell in 2017, they weren’t expecting to be getting a max-level player who would one day sign an enormous contraction extension that would keep the franchise competitive for the next half-decade.
But they’re thrilled that they are.
If I told you newly drafted Elijah Hughes would be worth a max-level deal in three seasons while averaging better than 20 points per game for his career, you wouldn’t ask me what contract stipulations existed in the negotiation. You’d just be thrilled the Jazz hit a homerun on another late draft pick.
Jazz fans, you have a very rare star in Mitchell, be thankful for him.
2. Good Ownership
The best thing a sports franchise can have is great ownership[. It’s better than a superstar, it’s better than having a team in a warm-weather tax-haven, it’s better than luck. Owners set the culture, and a good owner can cultivate a winning organization even with lesser talent. On the flip side, a bad owner can destroy a talented team with misguided leadership (looking at you nameless NBA team in Houston).
In 2017, the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward, one of the best players the franchise had seen since Karl Malone and John Stockton left the state in 2003. Instead of going in the tank, the Jazz made three consecutive playoff runs in Hayward’s absence under Gail Miller’s watchful eye.
Yes, drafting Mitchell helped, and luck came with that. But the Jazz identified Mitchell as a target early in the draft process because the Miller family allowed their work ethic to blend seamlessly with Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik’s concept on team building.
The results have been good, not just for the last three years, but for the last 35. Now, as they hand ownership off to tech-billionaire Ryan Smith, it seems they’ve found someone who shares their understanding of leadership from the top.
Smith has big shoes to fill, but his willingness to spend more than $250 million extending Mitchell, and re-signing both Jordan Clarkson and Derrick Favors within the first three days of his first free agency is extremely promising.
Jazz fans can enjoy their favorite Thanksgiving side dish while being thankful the organization is in good hands.
3. Adam Silver
You don’t have to like NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. From the NBA’s more visible dip into social politics or its relationship with international governments, the league has unquestionably turned a segment of its fanbase away.
And yet, Silver has quietly become one of the most important figures in American life over the last nine months, whether we like it not.
When Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 in March, Silver took an incredible risk suspending the NBA in light of a pandemic we knew almost nothing about. The move forced other sports giants’ hands to follow suit, and as a result, likely saved countless lives as it slowed the coronavirus spread that was already closer than we knew.
Then, in an audacious display of ambition, Silver, with the help of Disney created a basketball bubble, safe from the coronavirus that allowed the league to finish its season, rescue enormous amounts of revenue, and avoid allowing a force majeure clause in the CBA to send the league into a tailspin inducing lockout amid the pandemic.
Again, Silver’s ability to bring his league back safely as coronavirus numbers soared across the country paved the way for other professional leagues to follow suit, allowing us all to have a little taste of normality in 2020.
Finally, Silver oversaw a partnership between the NBA, the Players Association, and SalivaDirect, which helped fund the development of a rapid coronavirus test that has been used across the country to keep us safe, and again, save countless lives ahead of the holiday season.
You don’t have to like Commissioner Silver, he’s certainly not bending over to make casual fans happy, but we should be thankful he’s leading the NBA, because without him, we might not be watching sports of any kind during the holidays.
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