Jazz Have One Last Chance to Turn It Around

The NBA Playoffs are ordinary for the state of Utah. We are used to seeing Playoffs come to Salt Lake City, many times with anticipation the Jazz are going far in them.

That may not be the case this year.

In an interview on Sunday with KSL-TV, Karl Malone said it didn’t matter who the Jazz played in the first round, but they were just picking their “own poison.”

It’s becoming apparent Malone doesn’t care. He has been playing for 17 years and has threatened to retire before, shown lackluster efforts and done things that would make former Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi turn over in is grave.

The Jazz will probably make the Playoffs again this year, but it hasn’t been pretty getting there. But even that isn’t quite so shocking as the attitude of the players?especially Malone.

Here is the best player on the team and its leader. He is the one who is supposed to keep morale high when a team hits the dirt.

Some would argue Malone has reason to be upset. After a less-than-normal season for the Jazz, in which the team not only lost games but also ticket sales, the effort of the players is bound to be subpar.

The problem with Utah is that it’s too dependant on Malone and John Stockton. They’ve been depending on them for more than a decade, and with reason: They’ve delivered.

Stockton is hands-down the best point guard to ever play the game and Malone could be the best power forward ever. They’ve taken the Jazz to Playoff after Playoff and have made spectacular plays. They’ve been stellar, not missing games for minor reasons and playing through pain for years. Their drive and desire are second-to-none.

So why is Malone acting this way? There could be several reasons.

One, it could actually be how he feels and he’s just counting the games before he can ride his Harley Davidson all day, plan his gubernatorial campaign, and not have to play basketball anymore. People get tired and need changes of scenery. Malone has been on the Jazz from day one. There are other neat places besides Utah.

Two, it could be just a statement to get his team fired up?simply reverse psychology.

Don’t play hard, guys. I don’t care anymore. Just get your paychecks, call your agents and go home! It wouldn’t surprise me if Malone was trying to get his team out of the Playoff cellar.

Or three, it could be the comment was just blown out of proportion. Maybe he didn’t mean to say what he said. Not likely, though. I’ve seen and heard Malone enough to say he knew exactly what he was saying.

So what should the Jazz do?

They can just make the Playoffs, be happy they made it, continuing their record playoff-making streak to 19 seasons. That way, they could get an early vacation and get more fishing time. Sure they’d lose the extra money they could have made by playing more games, but vacations are so nice!

Or they could take the screaming banshee attitude, make Lombardi proud, go out there and show-up these younger and faster players, letting them know the Jazz ain’t dead until the doc says so.

There are a million cliches for the position the Jazz are in.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

“You’re not a loser until you quit.”

“Quitters never prosper.”

The list is endless. But the meaning is the same. The Jazz, and Malone, need to fight until they have to be dragged off the court on stretchers.

Few people would argue that’s not the attitude of a champion.

The Jazz were once champions. They never got the NBA Finals trophy or gold rings to prove it, but they were champions. Now they are borderline losers and has beens.

To change that status, the Jazz, especially Malone, should take on the Kings, Lakers, Mavericks or whoever they play, and make them give everything they’ve got, and then some, to beat them. That’s a champion.

Lance welcomes feedback at: [email protected].