My son and I attended the Utah Jazz autograph signing night at The Solution last week. Although it was a good chance for my son to see the players up close, it was a little deflating to find out that the players aren't as personable as I had hoped they would be.
Because I have a mind that frequently drifts off into the obscure and absurd, on the drive home I thought about how the Jazz PR department may have briefed the players before the event.
Here is how I envisioned the team meeting went:
Jazz PR guy: OK, guys. I've been instructed to brief you on what may or may not happen at tonight's autograph party for season ticket holders. All you'll have to do is sit at a table for two hours and autograph memorabilia for your fans. It should be a fun night where you'll get to meet some people who have been here from the beginning and have kept this franchise successful for years. We want to make sure they all have a good time, so please be on your best behavior.
Hopefully, you will all enjoy this event. Remember, these are the people who make it possible for you to have a job playing basketball. Keep that in mind when your hand gets tired of writing your name tonight. Oh, and by the way, you are all contractually obligated to attend.
So, who's excited for tonight?!?!
Judging by the lack of enthusiasm, I would guess there are probably a lot of questions you may have about the event. So let's have a little Q & A session. Go ahead and ask me anything you want.
Al Jefferson: "So, how long do we have to be there?"
Great question Al! The event starts at 6:00 p.m. and ends at 8:00 p.m. However, it may be a good idea to arrive a few minutes late with a bag of chicken wings or something.
Gordon Hayward: "What are we supposed to do?"
You will be seated at a table in the hallways of the arena and the fans will line up to have you autograph their jerseys and other memorabilia.
Paul Millsap: "What if I really don't like people? And what if I specifically don't want to be there?"
Listen, I know some of you feel uncomfortable with crowds and would rather not have conversations with them. I can totally understand that. So, if you don't feel like talking to them, just grunt or cough and then hum a song or something.
DeMarre Carroll: "Can we bring our phones?"
Sure you can! But please limit phone use while autographing. We need to get these people in and out so that we can all stop at the Cheesecake Factory before it closes.
Derek Favors: "What do we do if someone says something to us, like "Hi" or something?"
You just try saying "Hi" back and then maybe something generic like, "Keep it real" or something along those lines. Remember though, NO eye contact. We don't want people inviting you to go mini-golfing or something.
Steve Brown: "Is REO Speedwagon going to be there?"
What? No, no this is just an autograph party. Steve, you don't need to come.
Al Jefferson: "How long do we have to be there though?"
Alec Burks: "What kind of pens will you have for us to use? What if they run out of ink?"
There will be several Sharpie markers there for you, both black and silver, so that you can successfully autograph over dark and light colors. If one of your Sharpies runs out of ink, just sigh loudly and stand up quickly and make like you're going to leave. The fans will eat that stuff up!
Randy Foye: "Do we have to take pictures with them?"
No. We want these lines to move quickly, so there will not be any photo opportunities. The photo night will be later in the year for high rollers only.
Jeremy Evans: "What if there is a guy who gives me a huge list of dunk ideas? Or a guy that wants to treat me to IHOP?"
Ahhh, you're talking about @JimboRudding. Yeah, we know all about him and our office personnel here have looked into it and there's NO WAY that guy can afford season tickets!
(extremely loud laughter from entire group)
There will be maroon coat security, so there's no reason to fear.
Al Jefferson: "What if my hand gets tired of signing?"
Just take a little break and try to shake the blood back into them. That usually works. But make sure you do that while a fan is standing waiting for you to autograph something so that they know how hard you are working.
Randy Foye: "What if one of the little people looks at me?"
You mean a kid?
Randy Foye: YES, THEM!
There will most likely be a good amount of kids there. Just ignore their questions and they will eventually leave you alone.
Paul Millsap: "Where are we supposed to look when they approach us?"
Anywhere but into their eyeballs or in their general vicinity. We don't want them thinking that you're in love with them or something!
(pockets of laughter)
Derek Favors: "Should we say, "You're welcome for the entertainment?'"
That would be a GREAT thing to say! It will let them know that YOU supply their entertainment.
Al Jefferson: "But how long are we expected to sign our names for?"
Enes Kanter: "Can I bring funny stripe hat?"
Yes, but no tweeting a picture of you holding it next to your abs.
Derek Fisher: "What if I lie about things?"
Ummm…Derek, I'm not exactly sure why you are here.
(Awkward silence. Everybody stares as Derek, head down, slowly walks out of the room.)
Jamal Tinsley: "What if they ask personal questions like, ‘Do you like Utah?' or something like that?"
You just say something nice, like: "Well, I'd like it more if there were some decent clubs here." Or you could just say something non-specific like, "It's cold snow, man!"
Marvin Williams: "What if an old person coughs on me or smells like a buffet?"
Then that would be a good time to put your nose and mouth inside the neck of your hoodie.
Al Jefferson: "Is there a time limit?"
Yeah, Al, it's only two hours.
Gordon Hayward: "Will there be video games?"
Not that I am aware of, but you could bring a portable device and just play a little in between signing autographs. This will let the fans get to know the real you; like, your hobbies and stuff. Try not to get mad if one of their questions makes you die in your game though.
Craig Bolerjack: "Will it be expected that we give 110% out there?"
We here at the Utah Jazz ALWAYS expect that. You know that Boler! But, if you're tired, just go ahead and give anywhere from 88% to 93%.
Siegfried and Jensen: "What about our hair? Does it look alright?"
Yes Siegfried and Jensen. Your hair looks as magnificent as if it were 1992.
Les Olsen: "Anyone in here want to make some copies?"
I don't think so Les. We're just having a team meeting here.
(everybody stares as Les, head down, slowly walks out of the room humming his jingle)
Matt Harpring: "Will there be signage about fry sauce? And how about the Hurricane Katrina we just had?"
Yes, there will probably be signage. Do you mean Hurricane Sandy?
Al Jefferson: "Let's say I get there on time. When would y'all let me go home?"
Two hours later.
Steve Brown: "What about me? I mean, I have scouts that night, but where do you need me to sit?"
Steve, you are not required to attend. Thanks though.
Al Jefferson: "WAIT A MINUTE! Why doesn't Steve have to go?!?!"
It's pinewood derby night, Al.
Jeremy Evans: "Is there a way I don't have to show up to this on account of how tired I am?"
No. Every player is required to be there. Go ahead and close your eyes in between autographs though if you need extra sleep.
Paul Millsap: "What if I'm not really glad that they came and I don't like signing autographs?"
Just pretend you are somewhere else.
Jerry Sloan: What about me?
(slow clap started by Matt Harpring)
(group stands and comes together for Jazz group cheer)