I thought I had it all planned out. When the NBA reached its lull period of the season — 50-some games in, after All-Star Weekend, and still two months until the playoffs — I would finally write a column on the Jazz because there’s not much else to write about. Besides, the Jazz always come out of the gate on a roll after the All-Star break, so I’d be able to praise the longevity of Stockton and Malone with Utah wins to back me up.

It was all looking so promising. The trade deadline had passed, no team in the league was shaking up the playoff race, and most importantly, the Jazz hadn’t lost since All-Star Weekend. Six straight wins — all on the road — seemed like reason enough to dedicate this space to the Utah Jazz.

Then on Tuesday night, for the third time in the last month on national television, Sacramento gave Utah yet another thorough whooping, winning 107-81 and raising the Kings’ total margin of victory over the Jazz this season to a gargantuan 83 points in just three games.

I don’t think my multiplication tables went up to 83. I don’t even think I’m 83 pages behind on my reading. I was born in ’83.


Because of that ridiculously large number, I will now have to regrettably turn my attention away from the Utah Jazz and toward something uplifting in the league so that the throngs of Jazz fans at Yale can get through their mid-terms easier. I suppose there is a time and place for everything — even the Jazz.

So what’s happy and uplifting these days in the NBA?

Marcus Camby has bad legs and is out for the rest of the season.

Shawn Kemp violated the NBA’s drug policy again.

Michael Jordan is having possible career-ending knee surgery.

Former Nets star Jayson Williams has been charged with manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in jail.

An e-mail was sent to the Supersonics’ website that threatened to kill the NBA’s Yugoslavian players, two of whom — Pedrag Drobnjak and Vladimir Radmanovic — play for Seattle.

Looks like these are bad times in the league, after all.

And if all this wasn’t bad enough for the NBA, March Madness is almost in full swing, meaning the only basketball that people are going to pay attention to for the next month is college hoops. With the NCAA tournament going on, who’s going to want to watch a league that has its superstar on the injured list indefinitely, its funniest retiree possibly on his way to prison, and racist fans?

Nobody. Not even me.

The NBA is in bad shape these days and so are the Jazz. At least for the next month, I’m going to have to accept these two facts of late-February life and submit to the world of college basketball. More ESPN and less NBC. More J-Will and less J-Stock. And yes, for now, more excitement and less boredom.

This is just a warning, NBA and Utah.

But never fear, you can bet that come April, I’ll be warming up for the playoffs and cheering the Jazz on again. In the meantime, though, professional and Jazz basketball better shape up because, as my roommate Billie likes to say, “Okafor (i.e. NCAA basketball) be roastin’!”