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Winds of Time

July 7, 2010

By Ron Richards

I've been watching the free agent extravaganza with interest, hoping that something would happen to boost the Jazz franchise after what I felt was a disappointing draft.

Well, things change. As time rushes on, I've become more and more interested in and hopeful in spite of myself that Gordon Hayward was not a mistake at all. He's done nothing really spectacular in the summer league so far, but what has been impressive is what he has not done.

He has stayed in the offense, never forced a shot or committed to a foolish defensive play. He's been rock solid, patient, smart, and his basketball IQ is comparable to Einstein's in his respective field. I noticed with interest how when he came in the second summer-league game with a few minutes to go and the game on the line, how easily the mantle of game-saver fell upon his shoulders. It was effortless, natural. I don't think his blood will ever warm up further than frigid, and if he's ever nervous, I wonder if it will ever show.

He's a stone-cold killer with a freckled face from Indiana, and he reminds me more than a little of the same guy who was booed just like Gordon a few years ago.

Johnny Stockton.

No, Hayward's game is different, he plays a different position and is a lot taller and more athletic.

But what eerily reminds me of John Stockton is the way he remains so grounded during the game. No flashy passes for Gordon, just simple assists pin pointed, or dagger like threes with an expressionless face. Blue collar work done exquisitely with minimum effort.

Stock played with the same dispatch and the same demeanor.

Just give me the ball, I'll get it done, whatever it takes.

I'll take that. Can't wait to see him play with the big boys. Something tells me the better the surrounding cast, the better Hayward will play and the more the overall team play will be elevated. It's a very, very rare trait in a basketball player, but I think Hayward has it. He's one of those very select few who makes everyone around him better.

Some nights he may only score in the teens. Some nights he might have to score in the twenties to win. He'll do it, just because he can.

He's not a defensive center, like I wanted out of this draft, but he's something much rarer and of greater worth.

Wait and see, Jazz fans. He may never play in an All-Star game, or lead the league in scoring.

But what will happen is that the teams he plays on will somehow find a way how to win.

It gives me hope after draft night, when I was so depressed about the future of the Jazz it made me nauseous.

Now, I think the Winds of Time have changed direction, mysteriously. Something tells me this is going to be a pivotal summer in the history of the Jazz, and more good things will happen. I don't know exactly what they'll be, perhaps Boozer will bring us a player we didn't expect in return for a sign and trade. Perhaps a trade that will catch us by surprise.

Or perhaps this team will just gel like some teams do and play greater than the individual pieces would have you expect.

I have hope now, cause Opie's playing for the Jazz. Funny how that works, that one skinny kid from Indiana can give an old timer a transfusion of optimism.

Just got feeling, Jazz fans. And it feels good.