To: Jazz Fans. Re: Deron Williams.
Dear Jazz Fans Who Booed Deron Williams Last Night,
What was that all about? I was at the game and I can report that there were more cheers than boos but you dissenters really meant it. Every time he touched the ball, you booed. Why? What could you possibly have against him? I think I know some of the main reasons, I would like to address them with you.
Reason #1: He was going to leave anyway. That’s possible. I’ll even grant you that it’s probable that at the end of this year, if Deron was still with the Jazz, he would sign somewhere else. But you know what? He didn’t. I agree with Kevin O’Connor’s decision to trade him, it was a good move and Derrick Favors might be special. The fact still remains that Deron Williams did not choose to leave the Utah Jazz. The Utah Jazz chose to part with Deron Williams. He is one of the greatest players the Jazz have ever had on their roster. An All-Star, an Olympian, and he took the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals. He was a joy to watch and every fan in ESA should have stood and cheered in appreciation for all he gave to the team and the community.
Reason #2: He drove Jerry Sloan to retire. This might even be the biggest reason you all chose to boo him. I am likely in the minority with this opinion but if it’s true that Jerry left largely because of Deron Williams then I think Deron deserves our thanks. That’s not to disparage Coach Sloan or what he did for the franchise. I think he was a good coach and he earned that induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, without a doubt. I am not sure why so many fans have deified Jerry Sloan as much as they have. Just because he’s the only coach you know, does not make him the best coach for the team. Can we address this? Do you really think the Jazz would be better off now with Sloan than Ty Corbin? Think hard about it.
Look at the team the Jazz have now. The Jazz are young, the core is young. Even our veterans are relatively young. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are considered part of the veteran core and they’re 27 and 26 years old, respectively. Fans who worship Sloan, think back to the years he coached here. How often did he play young guys? How about rookies? Yes, he got better in the last few years but that’s because he had no choice. As more veterans left, the team gradually got younger so he HAD to play the young guys. Do you honestly think Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, or Gordon Hayward would get much playing time if Sloan were still the coach? Hayward would not be starting, I can tell you that. What about the rotations Corbin has been using? Corbin gives minutes to the guys who are playing well. To Jazz fans, that sounds unusual since we are used to seeing Sloan stick to rigid substitution patterns that ignore hot streaks, slumps, or effort.
I’m not done with this either. Deron said in pregame he expected some boos because fans think he forced Sloan out so I feel obligated to continue pointing out why that is such good news for the Jazz. Have you listened to the excitement from the fans this year? Have you noticed how the Jazz play basketball? It’s exciting, right? How many pick and rolls do we run now? A fair amount, yes, but is it EVERY POSSESSION? No. Allow me to point out some things the Jazz do now that Sloan didn’t like.
- The Jazz will take an open jump shot on a fast break if it’s a good look.
- They take open three pointers or long jumpers if the look is good, even if there is a lot of time on the shot clock.
- They are not afraid to run fast breaks.
- They lead the league in blocked shots.
Okay, the last one is not something Sloan would dislike but what did the Jazz offense used to be? Pick and roll, always look for the layup, even if you pass up open looks. The Jazz offensive system was still the same one that was used for Stockton and Malone. Adjustments have to be made for different players, Corbin is finally doing that. And it is an interesing note that for a defensive minded coach like Sloan was, it is Tyrone Corbin’s team that is leading the NBA in blocked shots in the same year he changed the defensive philosophy. Again, I want to repeat that I do not dislike Jerry Sloan and feel he was a good coach for many years. However, I feel it was time for a change. Frankly, it had been for a few years.
So if you take away anger for chasing out Jerry Sloan and toss out the hypothetical anger about Deron leaving SLC as a free agent, what are you left with? An All-Star point guard who is one of the top 3 players in the game at his position who helped keep the Jazz relevant and a playoff team in the years after Stockton and Malone. He seems to be a good guy and we all loved him while he was here. I didn’t burn my #8 jersey when he left and I intend to keep it, maybe even hang it on my wall someday. Every fan cheered for Mehmet Okur tonight, as they should have. We didn’t boo Sundiata Gaines despite him leaving as a free agent, when the Jazz chose not to resign him. I have long felt Jazz fans are some of the more intelligent and loyal ones in the NBA (though I am incredibly biased). We know when to cheer when the team needs a boost and we are loud. We always cheer for players who were traded, boo the ones who left on their own. It makes sense. However, a small percentage of fans disappointed me last night. Deron deserved our thanks and our cheers, which he got from most of us.
To Deron Williams, thank you for everything you gave our team. You were my favorite player during those years and yours was the first Jazz jersey I ever bought. I wish you well and will always root for you, except when you’re playing the Jazz.
To the fans who booed Deron, come on. You’re better than that.