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Why I Love SLC Dunk

Ezra Shaw

I love SLC Dunk. Duh. I love the Utah Jazz, so I'm obviously going to love any place that writes about the team I love to read about. So in this vein I love SLC Dunk in the same way that I love Moni's JazzFanatical, Spencer H's Salt City Hoops (a Member of the ESPN Truehoop Network), and I love Spencer C's The Utah Jazz Blog. There are other Blogs to list, but this post is already 3000 words long. Clearly I don't love all of them the same, seeing how I metaphorically put a ring on one of them. But I do love all the Jazz blogs. Big fishes with media credentials all the way down to the one person shows where 100% of the content is a labor of love.

That's kind of where I started, as my old Jazz Blog was purely that -- a labor of love, a blog written from a fan voice, and a place where I was just happy to have my say. Back in those days I could write about the Jazz everyday; and I wrote about AllThatJazz. (Hence the AllthatAmar name). And before the rise of blogs, in the message board days, I could and did write about the Jazz everyday be it at some of the older Jazz only message boards (I see you JazzFanz), or some of the alphabet sports stations' message boards (I started off at CNN/SI). I already was going to follow the Jazz for my entire life, and I was dedicated to following them no matter where in the world I was (from wireless internet in London, England; to dial-up in Canada; to an Ethernet cord that would issue forth a torrent of water during monsoon season in India). [No really, this is a real thing that happened.] We currently exist in a time when you can be a tech-savvy Jazz fan any not need to read or participate at a blog and be happy. Many are.

But for me, it was the logical step to make. I had never met another Jazz fan in my life (online or off) until I was in my 10th year of Jazz fandom. It was some random kid on vacation in Europe that I bumped into in Venice. I tried to cram in 10 years of pent up Jazz conversation in the 40 seconds we talked. It didn't go over well in retrospect. It's fine though, as now I have met thousands of Jazz fans: some who have had absolutely stable Jazz lives where they've lived in Utah for their entire run on this planet (save for a mission); and fans like me who have never lived in Utah once their entire lives. And this is the big deal for me.

I had never met another Jazz fan in my life . . . but now with all of the connections we've made . . . I feel like you guys are with me at almost every moment of my day. Why? Because of the community we have here. It doesn't matter if you are a new Jazz fan or one who has more than two decades under their belt. It doesn't matter if you are a guy or a girl. It doesn't matter if you are LDS or non-LDS. It doesn't matter if you are the Editor of this blog or a lurker. It doesn't matter if you are a "Utah" Utah Jazz fan or a "Non-Utah" Utah Jazz fan. We're all Jazz fans here. Heck, even non-Jazz fans who show up are treated well (I hope). Or at least that's what it used to feel like.

There are some divisive topics, some which may never fully be resolved -- but that does not mean we can't mention them and talk about them as a community. For the number one strength of SLC Dunk has been, and always will be, the voice of the community. Not one unified voice so loud that dissent is drowned out; but a near constant stream of different voices. That was the blog I signed up to be a part off when I was writing FanPosts -- one where at any part of the day (or night) in a 24 hour run you could read a recap of a game, look at some cool bar graphs and statistics, laugh at a funny picture, and then be moved by someone's personal feelings.

For me it's the feelings that really resonate here. That's why we're fans. We're fans of the Jazz because of how that franchise makes us feel. We're not fans because it's easy, trendy, convenient, or even statistically worth while. (I'm sure Andy has a happiness/worry/grief metric up his sleeve) I started writing about the Jazz online back in the mid to late 90s. They were message board posts that would be long enough to be blog posts. The reason I wrote was because I felt passionately about the Jazz. I want us all to retain that passion for the team.

I've heard rumors, rumblings, and received about 50 emails directly from readers who aren't happy with what's happening at SLC Dunk. I love that, and I encourage that. There are several ways to reach me and if you feel like it's not your place to tell me how you feel let me tell you right now that you're wrong. This isn't my place, this is our place. And if you are not happy with things then you should tell me. So right off the bat let met say you can get at me via twitter: @AllThatAmar or @SLCDUNK ; or E-Mail at AllThatAmar @ Gmail. Obscure hints and random rumbles don't help resolve things. Direct communication does.

So let me directly state that I love SLC Dunk. And while things have changed, there's no reason to secede. I'm not of the personal upbringing, or individual personality, to run from something if you don't like it. I will be the first one to admit that there are things here that need to be changed. But I instead have elected to be the change that I want to see here. (Thanks for that quote, Gandhi!) And while some change could not be prevented, some changes are for the better.

  • SB Nation United is a thing that had to happen; and the uniformity of site design across the entire network makes the network stronger. Where we are now is not where we're going to be when all the bugs are fixed. Every week there are more and more bugs that ARE being fixed. Everything you've complained about is being looked at. From the mobile site to the readability. But that's change I'm a part of, but have little control over.
  • We got married this off-season to The Utah Jazz Blog. I don't need to bore you with all the months of courtship and details of our love letters; but the main point was that in order to best serve the Utah Jazz fans online -- we felt like coming together was necessary. Instead of visiting one site and getting upset with what you read there, and then going to the other site, and then being upset with something there we wanted everyone to come to ONE site . . . and I guess be upset doubly. I guess that's happened. It's not for the sake of monopoly, that's absurd. There's no monopoly on thought, and there's no monopoly on opinion on the Jazz. After all that's why you have so many competing TV, Print, and Radio stations covering the team; right? It may be hard to see -- but here we have something those other things don't have. We are not financially dependent upon the Jazz, so we can bring up topics other sources cannot. Secondly, we are not content dependent upon the Jazz either. Everything we're doing right now here at The Dunk is from our own individual hustle. We're not in the locker room after the game. We're not at practice. We're not getting quotes from Tyrone Corbin. So it's not like our content depends on sucking up. We're not insiders here, so being an 'outsider' we're free to write what we want, and have no agenda. The only thing we have here is passion for the Utah Jazz -- as external entities from the Utah Jazz.
  • The marriage has been great. Previously SLC Dunk was accused of having too many people who agree with one another. (Funny, this entire off-season seemed like a battle ground over certain topics) We brought in more people, and are sharing quite well. We did not bring in more people to agree with us, mind you; we brought in precisely the blog writers that were supposed to think most un-SLC Dunk-like. We weren't able to retain everyone, and you may or may not have noticed that some people who used to write here haven't written in ages, and some people who used to write there are now writing at other places. The whole point wasn't to assimilate or eliminate competition -- but to bring more voices and opinions to our community. It was bipartisan cooperation. It was not a monopoly -- but Voltron. And together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts.
  • This new SLC Dunk (I guess, 3.0? 3.5?) has 6 Downbeats every week. This SLC Dunk has two different podcast shows every week. We have a number of regular features, like the Player of the Week, and a new section called the High Notes. This SLC Dunk has a better mix than ever between thinking fans and feeling fans -- each with a distinct voice and passion for the team. This SLC Dunk has a video after ever game up moments after the game ends. (Name me one other team blog run by fans that does that?) Oh, and we have other stuff still in the pipeline. And there's a lot of writing happening. There's a lot of reading happening. But most important to me -- there's a lot of listening happening.
  • I don't mean to the podcasts and videos; I mean to you -- the community. We ask for feedback and you guys give it to us (#UDQM). Why is this important? It's important because this isn't a place where you go to see crazy people say crazy things. This is supposed to be a place where you guys can say crazy things too! Like the Town Hall meetings Leslie Knope has in NBC's "Parks and Recreation", the interaction we have here should both be humorous, honest, and inclusive. If you want to have Twilight put in a time capsule - that need will be heard. We don't actually have a time capsule though. But you guys wanted more Downbeats, more Jazz Jam Sessions, and more multimedia -- and that's what we've endeavored to bring you.

I love that we have so many writers. I love that we have such great fanposts (after all, that's where so many of us started: Clark, Yucca, Moni, Andy, Alec, Peter, and myself all did). I love that I'm 100% dedicated to making this as close to a one-stop shop for Jazz blog stuff as possible; but also a must read because of diversity of both content and opinion. But more than all of that, it again has to come down for my love of this community. As a kid born in the 1970s who fell in love with the Jazz in the 1980s -- but had such little access to the team -- my secret agenda is to make this an awesome website that would do everything. And if you only had 2 hours a week to catch up on Jazz info, that this would be the one place to go.

Whenever I read the comments section for some posts, or some game treads it makes me happy. Similarly when I look at Google Analytics I'm usually in a dour mood after, but not when I see the fact that we have people who follow the Jazz on every habitable continent on this planet. Every week we get people from South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe visiting this blog. I love how big and wide spread our SLC Dunk community is. I've been there, back in the bad old days. And I know how hard it is to find other Jazz fans in real life. And this isn't just an international Jazz blog, it's a National one, and Utah one as well. Because of the people I meet here I've made life-long friendships with people I would have normally had zero chance to interact with -- people who live in Utah!

Today we have this site that is worth fighting for. It's a great place for all Jazz fans to come and meet, and talk about the team we all love. You may not like some of the content, or some of the people, but you still come here -- and we are a community. And together we can continue to make this the best Utah Jazz fan run blog there is, not because there's an absence of competition. No, we can continue to make this the best Jazz blog because we have an abundance love for our team and one another.

We're going to restate the rules down the line, but here's the Too Long; Did not Read version of this post:

1. This is your Blog

2. Participate here as little or as much as you want

3. When you participate, don't gang up or start fights

4. The essence of being a fan is feeling, and our feelings may lead us to have different opinions. That's only natural.

5. Respect others, even if they have a different feeling than you.

6. Everyone is equal here, even the guy trying to sell the beautiful and highest rated Boston Celtics Jerseys

7. TUJB and SLCDUNK are together not to form a monopoly, but to give our readership a chance to read both of us at one place

8. We are a community, and that means we listen

9. So tell us what you feel, don't ever hold back, and you can reach me in a lot of ways if you want to talk privately

10. If you do not like something here don't leave. Participate more, and you will find people who feel the same way. Be the change you want to see here. I will support all points of view, even if they are not my own.

Again, I may be the "boss" here, but I'm working for you readers. I'm working for the long time Jazz fan living down in Provo who used to be a season ticket holder. And I'm working for the young Jazz fan in the Philippines who hates the Los Angeles Lakers. And I'm working for everyone in between. But I need you all to work with me, because it's not about me, or Basketball John, or any other singular Utah Jazz fan. SLC Dunk works because of our community. No other Jazz blog has the struggles we do because of what we today are, but no other Jazz blog has the capability to shine as brightly as ours can.

Here we have a home. A home where you can meet other Jazz fans, talk about the last game, watch a funny video clip, or hear two guys talk for ours about the same old topic. It's home for ALL Jazz fans. All opinions. All levels of fan intensity. All levels of SLC Dunk participation.

And that's why I love SLC Dunk, and that's why I'm happy to call it my home. And from the data from Google Analytics, Jazz fans from all over the world make it their home 7,000 times a day too. Thank you, I really mean it, thank you for visiting this blog and being part of my Utah Jazz family. This isn't me some guy who runs a blog talking. This is me, the guy who grew up loving the Jazz but never knowing another soul who also loved this team.

SLC Dunk gave me a home, and filled it with other Jazz fans. It's our home, a home for fans who love the Utah Jazz.