Sour outlooks and Salt Lake stories
Join Doug Smith at noon Wednesday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the Utah Jazz.
Here we go, four games, six nights. Should be a heckuva ride.
That’s what the conversation got around to at practice on Tuesday: body language and sour faces and overall demeanour.
Personally, I see where it plays a role. You don’t want Grumpy Guys bringing down the mood around a team and if someone’s all slumped over and not looking like they care or are having a good, a trickle down impact does exist.
The question from M. Grange ™ was specifically about Jarrett Jack, who seemed more of his chatty bon vivant self in the last couple of games – and it elicited this response from Jay.
“If you’re playing on a team and you look back for the guy who’s making the calls or who’s bringing the ball up the floor and they’re hanging their heads or in a sour frame of mind, you start wondering what’s wrong with him instead of what can we do to get better.
“I think it builds our whole team when our leaders – all of them, I’m talking about Chris and Turk and Andrea, everybody – stand tall and they have their heads up and act confident.”
Jarrett admitted that he took a change in the starting lineup personally and that it probably wasn’t the best thing for the team but, really, who can blame him.
These guys, after all, are human, believe it or not. Just imagine how you’d feel if your boss came to you one day and said he was changing your responsibilities? Nothing personal, of course, but you can’t do what you’ve been doing because, well, because we like the other guy better.
It may make sense to an outsider and to sports fans concerned only with the final score feelings often don’t enter into the equation.
But can’t you see how a guy would be irked right off the bat? Understand how it might take a couple of days to get used to a new lot in life?
I can. And I think it says a lot about a guy who gets over it quickly and gets back to being his normal self, which I think we’ve seen Jarrett do over the last few days. As Antoine Wright pointed out:
"We need him to be upbeat, playing hard, talking, getting everybody involved because that’s when we’re at our best.
"Sometimes body language can be misinterpreted. He’s a mentally tough guy, he just wasn’t having a good week; sometimes people tend to wear their emotions on their sleeve a bit more than other people."
Lord knows (hi, T.J.) that some take a lot longer to deal with it.
I was trying to think of any good stories over the years about the Jazz and being in Salt Lake and then I remembered, it’s the Jazz and being in Salt Lake.
But I guess there were a couple.
The fans in Salt Lake can be quite, um, vocal and opinionated and it’s a great arena where they are right on top of the action.
Well, one night, back in the day, a couple of them were giving Darrell Walker the business as he’s leaving the court and they were being quite rude. Darrell, being Darrell, flips them the bird and ends up getting a $5,000 fine for his actions.
Glen Grunwald, then the GM, was on the trip, and we were sitting in the lounge of the downtown Marriott dissecting the game and the Walker incident and wondering how it’d play with the league.
Seems we didn’t have to be that worried because that same day, Latrell Sprewell tried to choke P.J. Carlisemo and that kind of dominated the NBA news.
Salt Lake is also the place Jay coached his first game a year ago after replacing Sam and, for city not known for its bars, it was a place where Quag and I were able to sit and watch the Grey Cup on year in a pretty good sports bar.
If you’ve got questions, I try to come up with sensible answers if you stop by these parts around noon.
Speaking of Salt Lake and NBA news, here’s an offering from today’s Trib on the future of yet another ex-Raptor still hanging around the game.
So before snoozing on the couch most of the night, I flipped through a bit of the Knicks-Nuggets thriller and saw New York wearing No. 15 patches on their uniforms in tribute to the late Knick icon Dick McGuire.
I’m thinking that’s a nice tribute to a guy who spent more than six decades with the organization in some way, shape or form.
And I also figured it was nicer than what they should have been wearing:
Little hearts with No. 23 in them. Or, even better, little hearts with No. 6 in them.
A fair amount of mail yesterday, some of it even non-rants. But there’s room for more if you click here with your query.
So how big are these next four games?
Big, no question about it. But to suggest the entire season rides on the outcome of games against Utah, Denver, Miami and Charlotte (I figure 2-2 is a pretty good result) is a bit of an overstatement.
Even if it goes south between now and next Monday, there’ll still be nine games to go and the season won’t be lost.
Looking at how jumbled the standings are – and I’m talking only the Heat, Bobcats, Raptors and Bulls – an awful lot can happen in nine games so, please, when we get to the end of this series, don’t think the season’s over one way or the other.
It won’t be. And the emotional rollercoaster ride will continue.