Posted by: Jeff Hofmann on October 23rd, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
I went to Game 4 against the Lakers last spring, the first time I’d attended a game in over two years. And it was awful.
Watching your team’s season end, on their home court, in a blowout, getting swept, is brutal, regardless of the opponent. But when the team that beat you is your arch enemy, it’s exponentially worse.
I hate the Lakers. Have for a long time. I freely admit that this hatred is based largely in envy. The Lakers are always good, and as a result they often beat the Jazz. I probably wouldn’t care about the Lakers if they weren’t a perennial title contender.
But they also do a bunch of things that make it even easier to dislike them. Their roster is and has been stocked with plenty of villains: Kobe Bryant, like Michael Jordan is unbelievably talented but completely unlikable; coach Phil Jackson is one of the most condescending figures in all of sports; James Worthy is considered one of the 50 greatest players ever, because he was lucky enough to play with Magic Johnson; Doug Christie’s wife got in fights with other players; they kept Karl Malone from finishing his career in Utah and didn’t even win him a title; and Jack Nicholson won’t take his dang sunglasses off indoors.
There’s also Shaq, of course. I used to defend him as a good player, even after he punched Greg Ostertag right before the season opener one year. I used to think he got a bad rap (and I derived much enjoyment from his actual bad rapping), and enjoyed his sense of humor. Shaq is funny–when things are going his way. When they’re not he’s just a big, surly guy who has proven he’s not above stabbing teammates and organizations in the back. He puts no effort into conditioning, and the fact that he’s never improved his free throw shooting, even a little, speaks volumes about his skill level and work ethic.
Special mention here for Derek Fisher. He’s a good guy, someone I kind of liked during his first tour with the Lakers. But then he ended up traded to the Jazz, and made it clear from the beginning that he wasn’t happy about playing in Utah (he certainly wasn’t the first to express that sentiment, but that’s no excuse). But Fisher’s a pro, and he played hard and played great for the Jazz, helping them get to the conference finals. Then his daughter got sick, which he obviously didn’t want to happen, but he was happy to exploit her condition as an excuse to get out of his contract (a very magnanimous move by the Jazz, by the way).
He claimed that he wanted to be closer to better hospitals so he could take care of his family. The hospitals in Salt Lake City might not be considered the best, but they’re very good. And if he was serious about the care of his daughter being his primary motivation for leaving Utah, why didn’t he take the next year off of basketball? Why did he sign with the Lakers, and then proceed to play every game–meaning he was on the road away from his family for about half the season? Couldn’t he have done the same thing while playing for Utah? Of course, I probably wouldn’t be annoyed by this at all, except that year, the Lakers beat the Jazz in the second round of the playoffs, while if you took Fisher’s contributions away from the Lakers and added them to Utah, the opposite result would have been likely.
That being said…I’m glad the Lakers are around (and the Spurs, who I despise just as much). Sports are a lot more fun when you have heated rivalries and villains to cheer against. Just look at how happy a lot of Jazz fans were when they heard about Carlos Boozer’s injury.
That’s why I should be an official Jazz blogger. Not only will revel in every Jazz victory, but I’ll gloat over every rival’s defeat and embarrassment. That’s what the Internet is for, right?
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