Jazz finally explain how a team and city should co-exist, but rarely do

Jazz finally explain how a team and city should co-exist, but rarely do

Despite the planetary systems of evidence to the contrary, sometimes a sports owner understands the duties and responsibilities of the job and foolishly (read: admirably) acts in accordance with them.
In other words, there are more than a hundred owners across North America looking at Gail Miller and wondering if she is (a) nuts, (b) dangerous, (c) evil, or (d) all the above, with oak leaf clusters.
Gail Miller owns the Utah Jazz, having taken the basketball team over upon the death of her husband Larry in 2009, and will do so until she turns it over to a legacy trust of family members who will be required by contract to reinvest any and all profits generated by the NBA franchise back into the care and upkeep of the team (h/t Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune).
That is, as opposed to turning the profits into a bank for the family, or a way to get rich before selling the franchise to someone who moves it to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland or Zagreb.
In other words, she has set up a system by which the team will almost surely stay in Salt Lake City for decades to come, as opposed to playing arena blackmail, city blackmail or other kinds of popular ownerly games. No whining, no sniveling, no milking the citizens without their consent – why, by modern ownership standards, this is a scandal.
All because of an antiquated notion she clings to despite all rationality – the right thing to do.
Compare and contrast the events in our own local burgs, and shake your head in admiration.
In fairness, there are tax advantages for her and her family in doing this, and the bar for decency is so low that getting tax breaks for not doing something despicable seems like an entirely equitable deal.
Nevertheless, her decision to keep the team (a) in the family and (b) in the city where they reside is such a stunning development that it took more than a year of fevered negotiations with the NBA to make sure that what she chose to do would meet with the league’s approval.
“We worked with the NBA for probably more than 12 months trying to put together a package that satisfied the NBA's needs for financial covenants, eventual opportunities for participation in management and the governance,” team president Dennis Haslam said. “It took a long time, but we got there.”
Larry and Gail Miller bought the Jazz for  $22 million 30 years ago, which are currently valued at a hair beneath $900 million. In other words, the family has done reasonably well by the city, and the city by the family. And the annual profits are more than sufficient to keep everyone living in spectacular comfort.

But what she has done is introduce a foreign concept to modern wealth. Enough money for everyone.

“The Jazz are not our family's team,” son Steve Miller kind of fibbed, because it remains the family’s team. “They are a community asset. They are the Utah Jazz.”
Even allowing for the discordant nickname that has endured for those 30 years, again despite all logic, the Jazz have finally explained what the relationship between a team and its town ought to be, and almost never is. Owners long ago decided that their teams were theirs and only theirs, and the fans to whom they pay lip service in exchange for all the money their fans pay them have come to know that love unrequited is just a scam with free T-shirts.
The people of St. Louis, San Diego, Oakland and whoever is next in the discard bin have discovered that loving a team is typically an act of misplaced faith.
But Salt Lake City got the right owner, one who knows what the true debt really is, and how best to repay it. Gail Miller is not a hero, but she is someone who gets how sports is supposed to work, which is frankly a much rarer thing than mere heroism.
If she drinks, she’s earned one – even if all she did was momentarily shame her financial compatriots by showing the kind of loyalty that usually ends up only going the other way.

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller