Why am I a sportswriter and not an NBA basketball player?
Let me count the ways …
No. 1. I’m pretty short.
No. 2. I’m pretty fat.
No. 3. I’m pretty slow.
No. 4. I often struggle to stay focused …
And No. 5, I often struggle to stay focused.
But the good news is I type pretty fast. So here I am writing a sports column about my exploits Wednesday afternoon at the Zions Bank Basketball Center, where new Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder and his staff put me and several of my colleagues through a “media training camp.”
In preparation for the upcoming season, the Jazz will soon begin their own training camp, one in which Snyder will put his stamp on the team. No doubt wanting a good laugh before diving into a long, rigorous NBA season, the 47-year-old former Duke point guard decided – or perhaps simply agreed – to show a group of know-it-all media types a few rudimentary concepts from the Jazz’s new system.
Between the huffing and puffing and the gasping and wheezing, most of us managed to look around the gym and nod knowingly as we were taught things that were either quickly forgotten or never quite grasped in the first place.
(Before I go any farther, I’d probably better issue a blanket apology to my friends in the media business. I’m generalizing, I know. I’m sure many of you are quite intelligent and highly capable of digesting unfamiliar concepts … in addition to large amounts of free cookies. Worse still, I’m poking fun of you – of all of us, really – knowing full well our knack for taking ourselves too seriously. Sorry.)
Anyway, from what I gathered from Snyder’s speech before our workout, the new-look Jazz will play with an up-tempo style this season. With relatively few variations, for the past three-plus decades the Jazz have done things the same way. From Frank Layden to Jerry Sloan to Tyrone Corbin a common thread ran through the franchise. But now with Snyder, there’s a different feel.
Under Layden, Sloan and Corbin, the Jazz pushed the tempo when the opportunity presented itself. Under Snyder, they’re more likely create opportunities based on tempo. They’ll spread the floor differently and won’t be quite as focused on specific positions.
Snyder used the word “pace” when discussing his offense. He also mentioned the need for very specific “spacing” on the floor.
He explained it (at least part of it) and then tried to give us a better feel for it by asking us to apply the concepts.
He also told us he wanted us to “have fun,” which is code for “I’m not expecting a lot from you.”
He smiled often and made his way from group to group, giving instruction and answering questions.
He laughed with us and I’m pretty sure he also laughed at us.
Even in my athletic prime, I’m certain my jumpshot was never as fluid as I imagined it to be. And yet I’m happy to say I knocked down a few shots. I set a hard screen that elicited an “ooofff!” from a colleague/opponent (highlight of the day) and I also tripped over my own feet while attempting to run a fast break (lowlight of the day). Sadly, there were numerous times my brain knew what to do but my body simply refused to do it in a timely manner.
Did I fully comprehend all the little nuances of what Snyder and his assistants taught us Wednesday afternoon? Nope, not a chance.
But I can type pretty fast.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo