Do the basketball gods honor their debts?

Maybe I'm the only one in the world, but I'm not extremely interested in the draft. I'm interested—but not obsessively so. 

So I'm posting a little diversion—as well as a request for others to post some of their most significant (good or bad) memories of following this team. Here's mine:

I love the Jazz. I grew up obsessed with them. The only thing that rivaled me love for the Jazz was my devotion to Utah Utes basketball. And this was back in their hey-day: the 90's when the team rocked the WAC, when even if they played badly they could dominate Shawn Bradley, when Jimmy Soto was cute and Rick Majerus was fat (hopefully someone out there will recognize the reference—if not, maybe I'm as old as my kids think I am).



Back then my dad would get me Jazz tickets every Christmas. And he always got them from someone who had rocking season tickets, so I'd usually sit somewhere between rows 8 and 20. I even sat on the 2nd row once. I'd always get to go to 3-4 games a year, and I'd always take my high school buds. We'd drive down with to the Delta Center with our windows rolled down and Van Halen rocking on the stereo much, much, much too loud.

And then we'd always end up in a little row in the stands—because one of my buds always decided he hated the Jazz mid-way through the game and start loudly and obnoxiously cheering for the other team. The worst was in a game against the Spurs when my friend decided Dennis Rodman was the greatest dude in the history of ever. I nearly hit the guy during that game.



And the Utes—well I was equally obsessed. My friends and I would skip school for the first round of the NCAA tourney every spring ... approaching AP tests be damned. And when I went to college, of course I went to the U. I played in the marching band and loved every minute—especially when the Utes beat BYU 34-17 in Provo and the BYU crowd started pelting us with food (because the Utes' cheerleaders were really going overboard when celebrating the touchdowns).



But what I really wanted was to make the pep band—so I could go to all the basketball teams and the tourney (that was when the Utes always made it. It was automatic. Expected. Fans would have rioted to not make it. (This is why I can't follow NCAA basketball today—it's just too painful to watch my Utes and remember what they were just 10 years ago). I was crushed when I was the last trombonist cut from the pep band my freshman year. No NCAA trips for me.

But I still skipped school for the 1st round that year—college exams be damned. It rocked. That was when Little Caesars introduced their Hot-n-Ready campaign, and about 15 guys congregated to my house, each with his own large pepperoni pizza. Except Boomer bought himself 2.

But here's where the story gets painful.

In the summer of '96 I left Utah for an LDS mission in Canada. I missed the 96-97 and 97-98 basketball seasons. And you all know what happened those years. Two trips to the finals for the Jazz. Elite Eight followed by National Championship Game for the Utes (5 freaking minutes away from killing their Kentucky demons and winning it all!)



And I missed it all.

Actually, that's not true. I didn't miss it all. My prep day on my mission was Monday. So my Mission President would allow us to get video taped games from the previous day and watch them on Monday. 

So here are the two games I got to watch:

Sunday, June 7, 1998: Lost game 3 to the Bulls 54-96. Jazz set NBA record for fewest points scored in a Finals game.

Sunday, June 14, 1998: Lost game 6 to the Bulls 87-86. MJ hits the game winning shot after stripping the Mailman and nudging Bryon Russell out of the way.



And that was it. That was what I got to experience during those two finals runs for the Jazz and those two NCAA tourney runs for the Utes.


So I figure God owes me. Nobody loved the Jazz and Utes more than me, and I missed the greatest two years both teams ever had (the 1940's Utes that won the national championship don't count. I don't know a single person who remembers it). And I also figure that the basketball gods must be subservient to the Real Head Honcho in the Clouds, so at some point I'll get my payback.

Maybe that's why I'm optimistic. Maybe that's why I'll always keep watching my teams. Because at some point God will decide on the right time to pay me back for missing the greatest two years my teams ever had.

* Okay, a little bit about the draft. I've heard several comparisons between Cole Aldrich and Greg Ostertag. I know, I sound like Captain Obvious right now. We've all heard them. Here's my take:

If it's true, if Aldrich really is as good as Ostertag, I'd take him in a heartbeat. I will go to my grave swearing that Ostertag had the talent to be an All-Star. He could dominate a game with just rebounding in a way reminiscent of Moses Malone.

Go watch Utah-Houston, 1997 Western Conference Finals game 6 again—you know the one: Stockton hit the shot while Malone bear-hugged Drexler. Well, Ostertag had 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks guarding ... freaking Hakeem! Yeah, the Dream wasn't quite what he was in 93-96, but still he was Hakeem! And Ostertag dominated inside that game.

If Ostertag had his head screwed on right, if he had worked hard, and if he had simply played like he wanted to 9 out of 10 games (instead of 1 out of 10), he would have been a multiple-times All-Star. I'm convinced of it. Nobody will ever make me believe differently.

If only we could have combined Ostertag and Jarron Collins together, everything about the Jazz may have been different. And I'm sure that's the first time anyone ever wrote those words without an ounce of sarcasm (though still enjoying the ambiguity)

So if Aldrich is really like Ostertag, then get the dude if he's available at #9. And no, already having the KOOF and Fes don't count as a logjam at center that the team needs to worry about.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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