Posted by: Jeff Winget on April 3rd, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
On Friday, I bought tickets through Flash Tickets to attend the game between the Jazz and the Lakers. I had promised my friend Xavi that we would go to the game to see his favorite player in the NBA, Pau Gasol. I wrote about his first experience at an NBA game before, so I won’t go into much detail about his thoughts in this post.
We arrived at the game a few minutes before tip off, and immediately noticed a sea of puke-yellow jerseys poring into the stadium. Xavi said, “There are a lot of Lakers fans here. Why?” I explained to him that a lot of Lakers fans are Lakers fans only because the Lakers have been winning a lot lately and have Kobe Bryant on their team. I joked that the same fans that were at the game that night wearing Kobe jerseys will be at the game next year against the Heat wearing LeBron jerseys.
When we made it to our seats, pizza and drinks in hand, we looked around. In front of us, there were three rows full of Lakers fans. There was already some trash talking going on, especially with one fan who was particularly vocal in his support of the Lakers. Xavi and I spoke in Spanish about the game, and he zoomed his camera in on Gasol to get a few pictures. When the game started, the talking between the Jazz fans in the section and the Lakers fans increased, although it remained civil and friendly the entire night.
During the first half the cheers for each team seemed about even. When the Lakers scored, there was a big roar from the Lakers fans, and when the Jazz scored, the ESA rocked with its typical “we love the Jazz” reverberations. The Jazz rode an early run to keep the lead into halftime, but watched it evaporate in the third as the Lakers took control of the game and eventually won going away.
During this second half explosion, the stadium felt like Staples Center. The crowd was raucous in its support of the Lakers, the only Jazz event that interrupted it was the standing ovation given to John Stockton when his face was put on the JumboTron. When Kobe shot free throws, the crowd shouted “MVP! MVP! MVP!” (During one of these chants, I asked the kid in front of me where Derrick Rose was, since he is the MVP, but I digress). When CJ Miles was on the line, the crowd booed loudly and did all that it could to distract the young wing as he shot.
As hordes of Jazz fans filed out midway through the fourth quarter, the Staples Center feel intensified. I’ve been to lots of Jazz games in the ESA, and I’ve never seen it so hostile toward the home team. Even when they played the Bulls in the 90s, the Jazz fans could drown out the dissenters. They couldn’t do that on Friday night even though they tried.
As a final note, I asked the loud Laker fan in front of me if he was actually from LA. He said he was, and I congratulated him for not being the type of fan that comes and roots for the Lakers one week and the Heat the next. He said he did come to root for the Heat as well because “LeBron is the bomb.” So much for him not being a star-chasing, bandwagon fan.
Overall, Xavi and I had fun at the game. We got home really late (I went to bed at 3 a.m.), but it was worth the trip. I just wish the game had felt like a real home game and not a game at the Staples Center.
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