This column isn’t about what the Jazz achieved this past season.
It’s about what they didn’t achieve. And what they will achieve.
Why? Because that’s the way Donovan Mitchell and the rest of his teammates look at it. And if there are some of them who don’t look at it that way, oh ye of little faith … um, Mitchell, the team leader with the staff in one hand and the tablets in the other, would like a word with them.
The man, I swear, is basketball’s version of Moses, ready to lead his team and his people out of bondage and into the Promised Land. Mitchell isn’t thinking small, isn’t being satisfied, isn’t limited in his vision for what the Jazz can conceive, believe and achieve.
His sentiments, expressed by way of a piece titled “No Moral W’s” in The Players’ Tribune, are everything Jazz fans want to read, everything they need to read. Mitchell puts forth an attitude that is different than what many around here think. It is bolder than what many dare to think. And yet, there that brash stance is, written in a way that leaves no uncertainty about what his goals are … no, what his intentions are with the Jazz.
Somebody once said, “It is hard to blow an uncertain trumpet.”
Well. Mitchell is blowing a horn that is clear.
He’s going to win an NBA title in Utah.
Read his words here, and prepare to be pleased, prepare to alter the way you think about the Jazz, at least since Karl Malone and John Stockton had their two shots at Larry O’Brien’s Trophy back in the 1990s, prepare to expect something extraordinary:
“I think a lot of people, just looking at our team from the outside … they might have said, ‘Oh, this Jazz season? This Jazz season was a win.’ Like, just because we had beaten our expectations and everything, somehow that was a W.
“A moral W.
“But what you have to understand is — we didn’t beat our expectations by being the type of team satisfied with moral W’s. We beat our expectations by being satisfied with W’s.
“We beat our expectations by being killers. …”
Wait now, it gets better.
“If we had been a satisfied type of team, we’d have probably gone nowhere. It’s crazy how many excuses this team had to fall back on. … But man, at no time did anyone on our team even think about excuses. …
“All we cared about was being the best.
“And all we ever had in our minds as a goal was a championship. … And we fell short of that. So as far as we were concerned, we had let this city down.”
Mitchell continued and underscored the point even more, writing: “But it’s only a temporary L — because we’re going to be back next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. It’s temporary, because this isn’t the end.
“This is the start of something special.”
And then, there was the best part for Jazz fans.
“… I’m going to take that into this offseason, and use it as fuel to get better. To get Win the West better. To get Bring a Championship to Utah better. And that’s just real. The sky’s the limit here.”
Mitchell wrote how he made a great decision and had good fortune entering the draft, landing with the Jazz, and coming to Utah: “… I just love this league. But maybe most of all, I know I made the right decision because I ended up where I belong. Playing for this team, for this city.”
And he ended his piece by referencing back to how fans had shown up at the airport after the Jazz’s playoff loss to Houston, how impressed he was by that, and adding: “Hopefully the next time we hang out at the airport, we’ll bring a trophy.”
Those are some powerful words coming from a player who is at the center of whatever it is the Jazz will accomplish over the next fistful of seasons, and maybe two fistful of seasons, or three.
Yes, folks, Donovan Mitchell wants to be in Utah. He likes it here. He intends to win a title here. And he thinks the fans get that. He wants them to get that. He seems to be saying to everyone, “Hey, think big. We’re not satisfied. We won’t be satisfied until a championship is won.”
Nobody’s thought that way around these parts for two decades.
Contention for a title? Yeah, that might, if everything goes well, come into play. But winning the whole thing? That’s deep on the shelf, behind 20 seasons of clutter and dust, eclipsed by a good/bad memory of coming close and having Michael Jordan swipe hope away in the final seconds of a Game 6.
That was then, Mitchell is saying, this is now.
And anyone who’s been around him knows he’s not just blowing smoke. He means it. He’s focused on it. He won’t be satisfied until it is done. He’s transforming the Jazz’s state and the Jazz’s state of mind, and perhaps yours, too.
That’s pretty amazing. It’s a new way of thinking. You know the saying, “It’s better to aim for the stars and land in the trees than to aim for the trees and land in the mud.” Mitchell wants to change that. He wants to aim for the stars and land in the stars.
And, in his mind, he’s absolutely convinced he will.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.