Brad Rock: Sunday wins have been rare for the Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY — If I were Deron Williams, I'd check out some of the Jazz's history before pushing too hard for Sunday games.
The team hasn't exactly been a juggernaut in that area.
Maybe he should settle for playing on Family Home Evening Mondays.
The All-Star guard questioned the Jazz's scheduling practices last week, after CEO Greg Miller said playing on Sunday didn't make business sense.
"It is a business decision to not play home games on Sunday," he wrote on the team's Web site. "We believe it would be very difficult to draw 19,911 fans (a sellout) to EnergySolutions Arena for a regular-season Sunday game, based on past experiences we have had with Sunday home games during the NBA Playoffs. About the only way it would work was if the opponent were the Lakers, LeBron (James) or the Celtics."
But Williams told reporters that stacking games on other days made the schedule more difficult.
"Very much so," said Williams. He went on to add the Jazz seem to play "every day of the week, some months. It's pretty bad."
So the Jazz have been doing what people do in other jobs — squeezing in too many work hours during the week. That, in turn, may have caused them to suffer fatigue and injuries.
Spreading things out seems to make sense from a basketball standpoint. But it doesn't necessarily make perfect business sense. Miller noted that the Salt Lake Bees draw 50 percent fewer fans on Sunday and that Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment movie theaters are also slow on that day.
Sunday is considered a sacred day for Mormons, and since a large share of Jazz fans are LDS, the team has always requested no Sunday regular-season games.
This isn't the first Jazz team that has dealt with the Sunday issue, nor is it the best. Karl Malone and John Stockton avoided Sunday games for 18 years and went further than any Jazz team in history. Jerry Sloan has never complained about scheduling, no matter what the day. His attitude is that somebody else schedules games, his team plays them.
"If you're looking for an excuse, I guess that's as good as any," he has said regarding back-to-backs and other scheduling issues.
There are actually three factors involved in Sunday games: business, basketball and religion. In the business sense, Miller's fear of Sunday games could be unfounded. The Jazz sold out four of six Sunday playoff games in the Salt Palace, and one of the non-sellouts was just 172 tickets shy. At ESA, they have sold out 13 of 14 Sunday playoff games, the other being 284 tickets short of a full house.
Of 11 regular-season Sunday home games, all-time, the Jazz have sold out or come within a few hundred all but three times — and those were in the 1980s.
Somebody is buying tickets.
At the same time, Sundays haven't been terribly kind to the Jazz in terms of winning. They lost their first six Sunday home playoff games.
Two of the most memorable playoff moments in Jazz history were Sunday failures. On May 7, 1995, the Jazz lost to Houston when David Benoit started ricocheting shots from the perimeter in the closing minutes. That game eliminated Utah in the first round.
The Jazz lost Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals when Michael Jordan stopped and popped on Bryon Russell, dashing Utah's dreams of a championship.
The Jazz are 10-10 all-time in Sunday home playoff games, 72-24 on other days. They're 7-4 in home regular-season Sunday games.
All totaled, playoffs and regular season, the Jazz sell out or come within a handful of seats on Sunday 95 percent of the time; they win just 55 percent of the time.
All of which indicates one main thing: Selling tickets on Sunday isn't the Jazz's biggest problem.
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