Jazz Can Keep Old-Timers and Build for Future

When the greatest player ever to walk onto the hardwood speaks, it makes news. When he tries to reclaim past glory, it makes a whole tidal wave of news.

People want to know if he can still dunk, play defense, make the outside J?hell, if he can run up and down the court.

Michael Jordan uses this attention for motivation. His mission is to prove that he can not only play basketball, he can still dominate.

In his second exhibition game, MJ scored 18 points in 12 minutes, then he took the rest of the game off.

Such tremendous play will take the horrible Washington Wizards and vault them right up into mediocrity.

The best decision Jordan could make as team president was to put himself back on the court.

However, that really doesn?t help this team rebuild (though when looking at the historic context of the situation with the Wizards, it’s more accurate to just say “build”). Jordan is now 38, so he is not going to be around for too much longer.

So maybe Jordan didn?t make the right decision. Maybe the Wizards should focus on younger talent.

Sound like a familiar argument?

For Utah Jazz fans, the call to let the old veterans go and start the rebuilding process comes as regularly as those dreaded midterms.

With the exhibition games underway, sports fans, columnists and radio jockeys immediately skip right over the regular season and start talking about the Playoffs.

Every sports Web site does its fall preview specials and ESPN.com is no different; it went through every team and outlined their destinies.

The Jazz?

Well, their players will once again make the Playoffs. They have a chance to capture their division crown, but they have about as much hope of winning the championship as Paula Houston, Utah?s porn czar, has of stamping out all of that disgusting smut, according to ESPN. OK, so it didn?t add the smut reference to its analysis, but you get the point.

Along with the rundown, this Web site allowed fans all over the world to answer the question: ?Should this franchise get on with the rebuilding or be happy with 50 win seasons and try to coax more years out of Malone and Stockton?? [editor?s note: if you don?t know who Malone and Stockton are, stop reading, drop out of your classes, and return to your secluded family compound].

Answers to this question included:

?It?s time to move on,? from Josh in Elmira, N.Y.;

?There is no doubt that if I was the Jazz owner, I would keep Malone and Stockton for as long as I could,? from Mark in Boston;

And on the more sentimental side: ?After many years of being a Jazz fan, it is time to recognize the outstanding efforts of Karl and John, but it is sad to finally come to the realization that there will never be a championship in Utah. It is time to rebuild and move on,? from Greg in Springville, Utah.

Nice comments, but the question is too black and white. Why is it so evident that one has to get rid of the marquee players to start rebuilding? Why do people think the Jazz drafted players like DeShawn Stevenson or Andrei Kirilenko?

Those guys might turn out to be decent players, but no one in Utah will know until well after Stockton and Malone retire.

Luckily, the team?s front office is not looking at the situation with the same level of tunnel vision that ESPN.com did.

If the Jazz kindly asked their two future Hall of Famers to retire, who would fill their shoes?

The Jazz won?t lull a player like Chris Webber anytime soon. The other major free agents this summer included such old veterans as Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, who are not exactly in the age range to help a team rebuild. Utah should stay its current course.

Enjoy the last few playing years of these basketball legends, and at the same time, slowly start to amass young talent that will, with any luck, pay off in the future.

Matt welcomes feedback at: [email protected].