Posted by: Kyle Goodman on February 11th, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
All the way out here on the East Coast, almost 2000 miles miles away from Salt Lake City, I often find myself to be the lone Utah Jazz fan wherever I go. Back home in New Jersey, I have friends who are into a variety of teams. I’ve had friends who are Nets fans, friends who are Knicks fans, my best friend is a Celtics fan, and I have known a few fans of other elite teams in the league (Lakers, Heat, Magic, Thunder). Since I am more often then not the only fan of the most “out of place” team in the National Basketball Association (I got lots of “since when was there Jazz in Utah” and “you would like a team run by mormons” comments), I’m often questioned just why I like the Utah Jazz over any other team. And here’s what I tell them:
The Jazz have provided me with more great experiences basketball wise then any other team. The Jazz were the road team in the first ever NBA game I saw. I was six years old in 1998, and my Dad pulled me out of school early so we could go see the New York Knicks with a co-worker. After a great dinner at the All Star Cafe in New York, Dad took me to Madison Square Garden, and I asked who the Knicks were playing. He said the Utah Jazz. Immediately, I found that just the name “Utah Jazz” to sound cooler then “New York Knicks” and I latched onto them, especially after my Dad pointed them out to me on the court. I became fascinated by seeing John Stockton run up and down the court and Karl Malone throwing it down like it was nobody’s business otherwise.
A year later, when I got my first video game console, a Nintendo 64, I also received a copy of NBA Courtside (Featuring Kobe Bryant nonetheless). My friends who played the game with me played as the teams of the day; the Lakers, the Rockets, the Raptors, the Pacers, even the Knicks, but I played as the Jazz. I didn’t always win, but I just loved hearing Chick Hearn and Stu Lance say “Stockton passes to Malone…Malone SLAMS IT WITH AUTHORITY!”. That kind of stuff just excited me as a kid.
Finally, I got to see the Jazz when my Dad went out to do business in Salt Lake City, helping to refurbish the Salt Palace with the industrial painting and flooring company he works. In 2001, we got to see the Jazz play the Houston Rockets, and it was as exciting of a game that I have ever seen. Since that point, I’ve made it a point to try to see the Jazz someway every year since. I haven’t been totally successful, but I’ve been close.
As the years went on and Stockton and Malone eventually retired, I still loved the Jazz for a multitude. Coach Sloan was one reason. I always said that he was the best coach in the league. I felt like he was tough yet fair, a genius in a common man’s body, and I just loved his “straight to the point” Illinois drawl. I loved the Miller family and the front office for valuing consistency and building a positive environment that seemed to kind of draw everybody in. I loved the team’s style of play. The Jazz to me were never an “offensive team” or a “defensive team” but a “balanced team”. I loved the fact that they did everything right on both ends of the floor, and were so good on both ends. I still do to this day.
The players who walk through are another reason. John Stockton was my favorite player of all time. To me, the way he made things happen on the court was only comparable to (at the time) what John Elway did for the Denver Broncos up on Mile High Field. My Dad used to wonder why I liked watching the point guard so much, but I used to tell him that it was because John made things happen. He was like the quarterback. Hell, he pretty much was a quarterback on the Delta Center floor every night. Karl was like the wide receiver who finished every single time, and finished in a way that just left your jaw dropped. The Mailman could always be counted on, and I made a point of that to my old man constantly when his Knicks began to go into decline and the Jazz stayed consistent in the early part of the 2000s. Stockton and Malone are gone, and now they’ve been replaced a slew of players with varying degrees of success. I remember when Deron Williams was drafted, and I didn’t even know who he was. But through the years, he’s been my favorite player. He is truly the complete package as a player. I always liked watching him the pick and roll with Carlos Boozer and Memo, and now I see him doing it with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Andrei Kirilenko was just like the assault rifle that he’s nicknamed after; tough, reliable, and effective. He still is that way. Other players through the years such as Mark EAton, Greg Osterag, Jeff Hornacek, DeShawn Stevenson, Matt Harping, and many others walked onto the ESA floor, and all of them were among my favorite players to watch.
Now as Jazz fans, we need to understand why we love this team. I know most of you are from Salt Lake, and the Jazz are your hometown team. Others may like the team for it’s players. Others may like it for it’s coach. They may say all of this stuff, but in reality we all like the Jazz for the things that coaches, players, and allt hat other stuff provide. We love the experiences, and we love the experiences the Jazz have given us more then any other. Now is not the time to forget those experiences. Now is the time relish in the fact that they’ve happened, and that new great experiences are probably going to come along as well.
Otherwise we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, are we really fans of the Utah Jazz?
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