Memo, Money, Had it

I know he was injured pretty much all of last season.  I know that he showed a lot of rust in the preseason games; I know that he is a 32-year-old on a team at least 2 years away from its arrival.  I know that we are a small market team that owed him $10.8 million dollars this season and he wasn’t going to come close to earning it.  I know that the trade exemption might come in handy if/when another Al Jefferson situation arises.

But it’s still sad to see him go.  The Deron Williams trade was one thing- it was a massive overhaul to reform the franchise completely.  This one feels a little different. The Jazz tossed him onto the scrapheap as an obsolete piece from a different time, the former third-best player on a defunct powerhouse that collapsed too soon.  I don’t mind any of the business aspects of it- paying 8 digits to your fifth-most-utilized big doesn’t make sense to anyone (I mean, besides James Dolan).  At the same time, I wish we could have found a way to keep the one cornerstone of the earlier iteration of the Jazz that seemed to have some genuine organizational loyalty.

He was never the one complaining, causing a commotion about his future, or moping around because he didn’t get more touches.  He was always just playing his game, earning his salary, and filling whatever role the Jazz asked him to fill.   When Carlos Boozer was having phantom calf tweaks and missing large parts of the 05-06 season, Memo quietly stepped up to average 18 and 9.  During the 2007 playoffs against the Rockets, while Andrei Kirilenko was crying to postgame reporters about not getting enough minutes, he was putting in a spectacular effort earning the title of Yao Killer.  Even this preseason, while realizing that his position had been suddenly filled by a strong group of young players, he was still pitching in and doing what he could to help his compatriot, Enes Kanter, have the smoothest transition to the NBA possible.  Of course, he will be best remembered for moments like the clip above, as the clutch shooter that always seemed to have the perfect shot at the perfect moment.  And I guess that’s how it should be.

It was a very minor trade in the NBA landscape and it’s not going to impact who wins the championship.  The Jazz will have more relevant games to win in the (hopefully) near future and somebody wearing the blue and green will step up and hit the big shots.  Craig Bolerjack will come up with a new signature call and Jazz fandom will move forward.  But I’ll always look back fondly on the days when the game was on the line I anxiously waited to hear the words: “Memo… Money… Got it!”

On January 14th, I expect there to be a wide range of reactions to Deron Williams’ entrance onto the floor ESA, but I really hope that there is only one kind of reaction for Memo.  He was a guy worth cheering for.

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