This weekend I was able to go the Utah Jazz game. Attending Jerry Sloan's ceremony was something I knew I wanted to do and knew I had to do as soon as it was announced. I am very grateful and very happy that I was able to attend, it served as a completion to that era of Jazz basketball to me, my era, the era that caused me to fall in love with the Jazz.
The abruptness with which Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson left the Utah Jazz in February of 2011 has never sat well with me. I am not going to rehash all the emotions of that dark and dreary time in Jazz history, I do however bring it up to be able to fully express my emotions of this past weekend. When Jerry and Phil left the Jazz I felt as if my Jazz world had been shattered. Hearing rumors from credible sources about how it happened and why it happened lead me to believe that the Jazz were not all that I built them up to be.
For most of my years being a Jazz fan, the Jazz seemed to me this mystical, magical, all powerful, simply perfect entity. I didn't know how they were ran, I didn't worry about how they were ran. When I went to the Delta Center or when I turned on my TV, they were there, they entertained me and left me happy. The Jazz at no time had to prove their worth to me, how right they were in all their decisions nor that they were better than fans. They simply didn't do it, the results on the court did all the talking. When Jerry and Phil left that all seemed to change.
On Friday night the feelings of the last four years, disappeared. It was a magical night, a special time once again to be a Jazz fan.
Walking into the ESA, there was a buzz and excitement in the arena that hadn't been there in over four years. It once again felt like the Jazz that I knew and that I loved. When we walked into the arena we were handed pennants that honored Jerry, it had original Jazz colors with his name and #1223 on them. Lettering was on the ground with Jerry's name and 1223 wins. On every screen on the concourse there were Jerry facts. Walking from the concourse into the arena seeing the new giant screens with Jerry on it gave me the chills. Every detail of Jerry's night was thought of and executed well. Thurl Bailey sang the National Anthem, and did a marvelous job, tributes to Jerry were shown throughout the night on the screens, Jazz greats like Karl Malone, John Stockton and Bryon Russell were recognized in the crowd and received standing ovations.
The halftime ceremony fitted Jerry, perfectly. The speeches were short, sweet and heartfelt. Jerry so overcome by emotion could hardly talk. The fans stood on their feet the entire ceremony and could barely stop applauding to hear what was being said.
Friday night felt like everything was once again all right in our Jazz world. The Jazz PR machine stopped rolling that night and fans were united. The Jazz after a few years once again recognized its history and the people in it. For nearly four years the Jazz PR and media have made fans feel like the Jazz didn't have a rich history. Jerry Sloan and Karl Malone were hardly talked about during that time. On Friday things changed, we as fans once again could rejoice and recognize our past.
The Utah Jazz did right by honoring Jerry and did a perfect job in doing so.