The good guys won again. Thank goodness.

When we use the term "good guys" to refer to the Utah Jazz, we aren't merely displaying a booster's pride in a team that carries the name of the state to the world. Nor are we passing judgment on the personal lives of individual players. Fans of the game seldom get close enough for those kinds of insights.No, the reference is to the outward qualities that exemplify winning at its best.

Basketball is just a game - a fact that gets buried and lost in the haystack of multimillion dollar contracts and international media attention. The next few weeks, as Utahns now well know, will cast a spotlight on Salt Lake City and the state that no amount of advertising could bring - but in the end it is merely a contest to see which team can put a ball through a hoop more often.

The important thing, as with any endeavor in life, is how those involved with the contest comport themselves. And in that sense, the Jazz have an opportunity to use an incredibly large stage to send a message to a world sinking in a mire of incivility.

In many ways, the members of this team, and the coach, already have. The troubling thing is that their behavior has become newsworthy because it contrasts so starkly with that of their opponents. In civilized society, children are taught neither to make excuses nor to cast blame on others. They are taught that competition is healthy, but that respect for the opponent, and gracious acceptance of the outcome, cannot be abandoned in the name of winning. They are taught that hard work and discipline lead to victory. In short, they are taught to be accountable for their actions. Too often these days such wisdom is drowned out by trash-talking, complaining and belittling.

We applaud the Utah Jazz for once again qualifying for the NBA Finals. The team has great talent and a determination to win. It has brought recognition to the state and has given every Utahn a reason to feel proud.

Most importantly, however, we applaud them for showing how to win, and how to act after doing it. This team has shown that hard work and unselfish teamwork leads to victory, even when the opponents have more individual talent. It has shown how to treat an opponent with respect, and how to resist the urge to return insults. All this may sound simplistic and naive to much of the world, but it works, and the dignity of the Jazz speaks volumes.

We hope it also brings a championship in the days ahead. After all, movies and books aren't the only places where good guys should win.