If the comments on Bleacher Report, YouTube and other sites are representative of Jazz fans, then I am the only Utahn who loves Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin.
This isn’t true, of course. The Jazz organization and fans appreciate Corbin because he knows how to resolve niggly basketball problems.
I wouldn’t know what to do if I knew that during the four preseason losses, the average number of defensive rebounds favored Utah's opponent 38 to 28. I wouldn’t know what to do with that deficit. It’s a basketball thing.
But of course I wouldn’t know. I’m a cartoonist. I suspect most Jazz fans, like me, are not basketball coaches. We’re accountants, lawyers, truck-drivers, florists, bakers, telemarketers, tech-support weenies, Walmart greeters, masseurs, cops, criminals, jocks and nerds alike. We relax in front of the TV and watch the home team. We feel we have to blame someone when “we” do not win.
I wish everyone could blame me. I would love it if Jazz losses were my fault. I’d stop watching and the Jazz would win the championship. They'd win every year. For years, I thought the Jazz lost game three of the 1998 NBA Finals because I forgot to brush my teeth that morning. I’m still convinced the Yankees lost the 2001 World Series because my wife washed my 10-year-old ballcap the morning of Nov. 4 — game seven.
We Jazz fans all have different upbringings and sometimes odd superstitions, but we can all agree that what a head coach does is mystifying. I would love to know how Corbin is going to solve the rebound problem, the assist deficit and the steals gap.
Website commenters think they know better, because they played a little junior Jazz, middle school, high school or college basketball. Maybe these folks read “Basketball for Dummies.” In reality, they are just as mystified as the rest of us. If website trolls really knew, they’d be working for professional sports.
But I digress... On Oct. 19, I watched Corbin’s press interview on NBA.com. As always, his statements were PR friendly and seemingly sincere. The only real emotion I heard was when he said "That's great!" responding to a press question about Derrick Favors' new contract. I connected with this statement, because I feel the same way.
I guess as fans, we expect to unravel Corbin's PR speak to understand if Gordon Hayward's average of 4.8 assists and John Lucas III's average 2.2 assists is on purpose.
The best stuff coaches say is always short. For example: on Oct. 19, Corbin told the Deseret News, “I think our defense is ahead of where the offense is.”
Ron Boone and David Locke said the same thing 300 times during their radio broadcast. I just like hearing it from Corbin better — with less fluffery. But the trick with head coaches is they don’t say much on purpose. Likewise, Corbin doesn’t want to give away too much.
I think Corbin is a normal guy. Unlike my cartoon, he does not blurt out silly things. He is like former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan. He keeps his plans out of the public eye. I liked Sloan’s faux-plain speaking. Unless you sat right behind the Jazz bench, you never heard a straight utterance from Sloan. What he delivered at press conferences and interviews was Sloan-style public relations.
The problem is PR speak. It doesn't relay Corbin’s strategies to prevent Enes Kanter from being blocked twice per game in defeats, including Sunday's loss to the Thunder.
Politicians use PR tactics to hide information from their constituents, their opponents, lawyers, wives and girlfriends. Likewise, Corbin uses public relations to keep the contents of the store safe. Eventually, the other teams will work out what the Jazz are up to, but that doesn't mean Corbin should tip his hand.
NBC Sports highlights a different type of speech. Today Kurt Helin wrote:
“Apparently Utah’s front office is sold that Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward are key parts of the future of this franchise. Utah is saying all that with their money.” According to Helin, the Jazz front office does its talking with money.
Also, SI.com’s “The Point Forward” blogger Ben Golliver writes:
“Favors will join Wizards guard John Wall (five years, $80 million), Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (four years, $62 million), Pacers forward Paul George (five years, $90 million) and Bucks center Larry Sanders (four years, $44 million) among 2010 picks to agree to terms on rookie extensions so far this offseason.”
By contrast, players speak differently. On Sunday, Kanter said, “Preseason or real season, I’m tired of losing.”
Pretty simple. Kanter wants to win. I’m with him.
Words are kind of like McDonalds’ french fries — cheap and easy but everlasting, growing only slightly stale over the centuries. While I wish Corbin spoke a bit more like Kanter, I am very glad he does not compare his players by their salaries like members of the press often do.
However, I’d like to hear Corbin shout out something unpracticed during a game sometime, even it if was his favorite food. He should shout it out without prior approval from the front office, the legal department, PR consultants or his mother.
Blurting out “pastrami burger” might seem a little weird, but it’s a weird I can deal with.
Aaron Guile lives in Provo, Utah. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter at @AaronGuile.
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