Jazzocalypse is coming

By By Steve Coons

By Steve Coons

I’m routinely confronted by a feeling of anxiety when the sports teams I follow prepare for new seasons. The Utah Jazz, the team I follow most avidly, will play their home opener tomorrow night against the Houston Rockets.

My dad never has hope for the new season, supposedly because so many things could go so horribly wrong. Why punish yourself with high expectations? Without expectations, at worst, you were right and at best, you’re surprised by sudden, unexpected success, he used to say. I’ve since disowned him, refusing to associate myself with such cowardice, but since it is almost Halloween, I will briefly speculate on the miscues and failures that might precede the Jazzocalypse.

This has nothing to do with the average, everyday calamity, like Gordan Giricek blowing up the team bus after someone says something unflattering about his defense, or C.J. Miles, desperate to be the starting shooting guard, taking the easy way out and pushing Ronnie Brewer off a bridge. This is much more serious.

Most fans, for instance, remember Mehmet Okur’s plummeting stats last season after his first child was born. But what if Mehmet Okur should prove more virile than anyone could have ever imagined? How many times can a woman be impregnated in the course of a year? Do you know? Does anybody know? A recent survey of the National Basketball Association’s GMs indicated that the Jazz have the league’s top home court advantage. What would happen, though, if the GMs figured out a way to factor fan petulance into the equation? Can anyone honestly say that Utah would still be number one? The fans that greeted Jeff Hornacek enthusiastically but met Karl Malone at his retirement ceremony with a low roar and a hearty percentage of boos mixed in? The fans that will boo when Andrei Kirilenko is introduced tomorrow night and erupt in applause once he gets his first block? I don’t think so.

Moving on, Matt Harpring is an important player off the bench for the Jazz, but his knee has been operated on more times than Pamela Anderson’s breasts, and his wife is a doctor. What if she advocates amputation? He can barely keep up on defense with two legs, so his prospects with one aren’t spectacular.

Any of these things might prove disastrous for the upcoming season. I shudder to think of the consequences if there should prove to be a clause that voids Deron Williams’ contract in the event of Jerry Sloan mispronouncing his name.

“Deeron…I mean Deron. Aw, crap,” mumbled Jerry Sloan.

“Oh, hell yes, I’m going to Dallas!” said Deron excitedly. All of that sounds pretty terrible and we haven’t even gotten to Andrei Kirilenko yet.

Personally, I predict that the Jazz will win one, or possibly even two championships this season, with 68-73 wins, All-Star selections for AK47, Deron, Carlos, Mehmet, Paul Millsap (as an injury replacement) and an MVP for Boozer. In the Finals, they’ll sweep the Celtics, and Deron Williams will be named Most Valuable Player of the series.

But that’s just because I don’t practice sports pessimism, you know. I’m a realist. It’s really the only way to watch sports.

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