Utah Jazz

The Long and Winding Road

As the Jazz training camp begins in beautiful downtown Boise, I’m reminded of a question that’s been in the back of my mind. Looking at this year’s schedule, this team indeed has their work cut out for them.

The Jazz have six extended road trips this season, four of them focused on Eastern conference teams.

If the Jazz hope to break into the playoffs, these trips will be vital to achieve that goal.

Here’s my question: if you had a Kirilenko `freebee,’ where would you spend it?

Let us consider it together:Trip One: New Jersey/Boston/Milwaukee, Nov. 8th – 11th

On the Court
The promise of New Jersey remains. One would like to think that the Kidd, Carter, Jefferson combo should rule the east, but they just don’t. I’m willing to concede that there are about three or four teams who should dominate the Jazz, but New Jersey isn’t one of them.

Off the Court
Anyone who has ever been to New Jersey or Milwaukee knows that the overall quality of woman isn’t…exactly…high. No disrespect intend, I’m sure there are some real beauties in both cities, but unless you’re into unusually big hair (and we’ve plenty of that in Salt Lake), Jersey girls may not be your taste.

As for Boston, there definitely are some good looking sports women in that town, but I’d fear that any of us would have trouble understanding that “I theenk yor Wekkid Gud on dat caut” is actually a complement.

Trip Two: Indiana/New York/Atlanta/Charlotte/Memphis, Dec. 17th – 23rd

On the Court
Well, discounting Indiana, this series looks to be the easiest of the bunch, and if things are actually as bleak in New York as everyone seems to think it is, it could be, like, really easy. If the grand collapse continues on its course, by the middle of December, it’s possible that if you show up too early to a Knicks game, Isiah may ask you to come off the bench behind Spike Lee.

That being said, the Jazz have an ability to blow the easy ones, so, don’t anyone get too excited.

Off the Court
There really isn’t anything in this world like a woman from New York, so to follow that up with a trip to sunny Atlanta, and follow that up with some Southern Charlotte charm,  I mean, this is real “Tour of America” kind of stuff people!

Think about this, that Memphis game is two days before Christmas. You could hook up with someone in town for the holidays. Not only is it a freebee, but you don’t have to worry about seeing said freebee when you come back to Memphis on Feb. 28. Brilliant!

Trip Three: Washington/Detroit/Toronto/Chicago, Jan. 15th- 20th

On the Court
Let’s start with the obvious:

  • Detroit is still strong. You’re all with me on that one, right? Okay, good.
  • Newly “wizard-ized” DeShawn Stevenson wants to show the Jazz a thing or two, right?
  • Chicago signed that guy with the big hair and the cell phone commercials.

So, yeah. I’m not saying the Jazz are totally screwed, but it’ll be… interesting.  

But what if Ben Wallace gets a phone call from his his wife before tip-off, needing to pay the bills on line. What if she isn’t very good on the computer, and needs Ben to talk her through it?

No, really, stick with me here.

What if it can’t wait, like Ben bought a super cool hot tub from Italy and they won’t ship it unless they get his check in the mail by a certain date and they have to send it that night  or something. I mean, think about how hard it is to get hot tubs big enough for Ben Wallace, one that doesn’t mess up his hair. He could on the phone till deep into the 3rd.

We can totally kick their ass then.

Off the Court
Okay, Here’s my thing about this trip. Each of those cities are really quite cool, even Toronto in their own way, but look at a map, and then look at those dates again. It’s going to be really cold, like stupid cold. The odds of getting any woman to think about anything other than a heater and/or a parka under those conditions is a pretty tall order. Unless you’ve got a really good Sean Connery impersonation, and I don’t know a single NBA player who does, plan for a series of lonely hotel rooms, curled up with the new ball while watching Sportscenter.

Trip Four: Memphis/Minnesota/New Orleans Feb 28th – Mar. 4th

On the Court
These are big positions game for the Jazz. At least from the limited view of pre-season, there’s no reason why the Jazz shouldn’t be able to beat any of these teams. Chris Paul looks to continue doing well, and it’s entirely possible that Adam Morrison will be able to contribute as a rookie (especially if judged by the ever important barometer known as NBA Live 2007), but if the Jazz core is even mostly in tact at this point in the calendar, look for the Jazz to go 2-1 or even 3-0 here.

Or, to put it another way, “I ain’t afraid of you, Vin Baker!”

Off the Court
Assuming you didn’t use your freebee on Dec 23rd, you still have some strong possibilities here.

My advice: wear a tee shirt that says “I ain’t afraid of you, Vin Baker!”

Trip Five: Miami/Orlando/Philadelphia/Cleveland, Mar. 13th – 17th

On the Court
The last time Lebron James played the Jazz, he left the Delta Center with 51 points. Naturally, the Jazz will be focused on that when they face him again, but it may be hard because that game will come at the end of a particularly difficult road series. Orlando is all upside, and all that “Changing the Culture” talk is the kind of stuff that makes Iverson eager to make statements.

And, then, you know… there’s that other team. Toy store balls or no, the Heat are going to eat teams alive this year.

By the way, I wish I’d been in that first `2006 draft prep’ meeting in Miami. I’d like to imagine that someone looked at everyone else in the room and said something like:
“Ah, screw it, we don’t need to draft anyone. Somebody open up another bottle of Dom P, I want to pour it on this stripper!”

Off the Court
The Miami and Orlando games will invariably have some tanned beauties in attendance, though I don’t know if their allowed to wear their bikinis into the arena. However, should the Jazz finish this series anything less than 2-2, the women will likely not be particularly interested. There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting rejected by a woman in a bar because you shot less than .500 from the field and you weren’t boxing out on defense.

Believe me on that one. I know from experience.

Trip Six: San Antonio/Houston/Portland/Sacramento, Mar. 30th – Apr. 6th

On The Court
I am neither a player nor a coach for the Jazz, and there good reasons why both of those things are true, but I’ve got to believe that this will be a particularly important road trip. Not only do we hope there will be playoff consequences, but the Jazz start said road trip in San Antonio.

If you don’t already, there’s something you should know about the history of Jazz/Spurs.

When the Jazz were making a name for themselves in the mid-90s, the Spurs were the one team that clearly stood in the way. A large number of Jazz fans took it personally. You remember when Karl Malone smacked his elbow into David Robinson’s eyebrow, knocking him nearly unconscious leading to a suspension at an important time during that season? That story was reported in the first five minutes of the local news that night, not the sports section, the first five minutes of the broadcast.

A lot of die-hards in this town never really forgot that rivalry, and if you were to ask one of them if they’d rather see the Jazz make the playoffs or sweep San Antonio in the regular season, they’d have to think about it before they answered.

Off the Court
I’d like to think that most athletes would start breathing through their eyelids for this trip, but two of these games are in Texas, and everything is bigger in Texas. However, if you haven’t accomplished anything by Portland, you stand on dangerous possibility that the Blazers will be sucking so badly that no one but the season ticket holders will actually be attending that game, and they’re going to be pissed.

3 replies on “The Long and Winding Road”

No LA here? A lot of these trips would be to cold-ass cities in the dead of winter. They need to have one where they go to Phoenix and then the Staples center for two games in three nights against the Lakers and Clippers.

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