Posted by: jazzmanjoshua on February 1st, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Last Friday around 6 p.m. I walked towards The Gateway. The air was chilly but not freezing as I approached Dick’s Sporting Goods. As I traveled, I tried to prepare myself for the group of 10 year-old Jr. Jazz players I was about to spend my evening with. What were these kids and my night going to be like?
I had flashbacks to when I was that age, sitting in a car with a neighbor who had taken a group of us kids to a football game. We had persisted to push and prod the neighbor the entire night. Finally, about 10 minutes into the drive home he snapped and told us what he really thought. Um…what he thought may not be appropriate to publish word-for-word in this post.
I silently hoped to spend the night with better kids than I was, or to have more patience than my poor neighbor had.
I entered Dick’s Sporting Goods and began looking for my friend, their coach. I found my friend and likely the coolest bunch of Jr. Jazz players on earth on the second floor looking at the Jazz merchandise. As I traveled to ESA and watched the game with these kids, I laughed, cheered but mostly…remembered.
I remembered what it was like to see the game through the eyes of a kid. The eyes of these Jr. Jazzers did not see a team that has struggled as of late. They did not bring a mental guillotine, ready to execute the first Jazz player who did not produce during the game. They gazed from their upper (and I do mean upper) bowl seats down at a court filled with Jazz royalty, an arena echoing the sounds of their favorite gladiators, a universe filled with stars.
It was with this vision in mind that they cheered our successes, jeered the opposing team and played a part in the win. Fiercely loyal, and sometimes a little more passionate than their mothers would approve (which of course I encourage), they did not turn on their team even when things were looking down.
The different vision was not from a lack of basketball or Utah Jazz knowledge. In fact, many of these 10-year-olds had a better grasp of the game than most of my adult friends. I had a sunburned kid, who is apparently the opposing team’s worst nightmare on the Jr. Jazz court, break down the skill sets of every Utah Jazz player for me. He also talked about how he was on a comp team in addition to his Jr. Jazz team. He intellectually analyzed the precursors and reasons for several wins and losses. I knew he and I would get along when he said his favorite move was the “ankle breaker” and proceeded to explain how to perform a successful killer cross-over. He said he wished he could go down on the court and be close to one of the players.
He got his wish. After the game, we descended to the sidelines. The group was within a couple of feet from Al Jefferson when we all chanted “I love Prentiss, Mississippi” to get his attention. Jefferson pointed at us, smiled and waved.
On nights like the one I experienced with these Jr. Jazz players the game is put into perspective. Because in their eyes, there is more terrific than trade talk, more dunk than negative drama and more magic than organizational minutia. I learned recently that my red faced friend went home and told his parents that his feet were still tingling from standing on the court. So are mine, Mr. Netz… so are mine!
I am happy to say that even with the late night of Jazz fun the night before, my friend’s Jr. Jazz team from Morgan, Utah dominated the opposing team at their 8 a.m. game the next morning. Great job, guys! I am sure you left the opposing team with sore ankles.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.