Welcome to the refreshed SLC Dunk! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [http://www.slcdunk.com/fanposts] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here [https://www.sbnation.com/why-we-are-fans] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Hey, Jazz nation. It’s been awhile. I kind of–okay, I did go AWOL during the 2nd round of the playoffs. I took a trip overseas, which I’d planned with the idea that the Jazz wouldn’t make it past the first round. I’m sort of embarrassed about that, so next year I’m gonna plan a trip that coincides with the NBA Finals.
So, this is how I feel about that:
Mylo, Jazz superfan and supremely talented writer, has asked us at SLC Dunk to share ourJazz conversion stories, as it were, to commemorate the new-look website. I wrote a little bit about it here, but I’ll expound a bit further today.
I was born in Utah, where supporting the Jazz comes easily to most people. Sure, there are those annoying folks who wear the opposing team’s jersey to every game just to troll, or the irritating radio guys who talk condescendingly about the Jazz to be edgy, but most of us in the state at least passively root for the team. My earliest Jazz-related memory (this dates me, and will make some of you feel old) is cheering for a guy who I thought was named “Car” Malone. I thought that was pretty great, because I was three, and I knew that cars were cool, and any guy who was named “Car” had to also be cool. A few years later, my second-grade teacher used Stockton and Malone as an example of great teamwork. I still didn’t really understand, because I wasn’t into sports.
The first time I actually knew who was on the team was during the 2003-04 season: Andrei Kirilenko, Greg Ostertag, Gordan Giricek, Raul Lopez, Carlos Arroyo and that lot. I watched them on KJZZ a few times, and listened to Hot Rod Hundley’s calls on the radio when I was in the car with my dad. The Jazz didn’t make the playoffs that year, but I fiercely hate-watched (well, with as much sports hatred as a 9-year-old could muster) the Los Angeles Lakers and “Car” Malone battle Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry, and the San Antonio Spurs in the WCF and later the Detroit Pistons in the Finals. Admittedly, I became a bit of a bandwagon Pistons fan (though I didn’t abandon the Jazz or anything) for the two years when they were great just because they were so fun to watch and they embarrassed the despised Lakers in the Finals. I had a babysitter who was a die-hard Lakers fan, and I never let her hear the end of it. I have no idea what she’s up to now. Probably cheering for the Golden State Warriors somewhere.
I continued to watch the Jazz and the NBA through those “lost-in-the-wilderness” years of ‘03-‘04 to ‘06-‘07, but my focus was more on baseball. If you’d have asked me if I’d rather go to a Jazz game or a Stingers (Bees) game I would have picked the Stingers every time. Heck, if you would have asked me if I’d rather see the Boston Red Sox or the Jazz win a title, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have picked the Red Sox. That started to shift when the Jazz started getting good again, and Deron (De-Rahn?) Williams took them to the Western Conference Finals. That was a fun year, but I was still a pretty passive fan.
The next season, I met a girl in 8th-grade health class who would jumpstart my Jazz fandom for good. You see, as I wrote in my earlier article, before I met her my circle of Jazz super fans was limited to my great-grandmother, a feisty 90-year-old who would watch every game and slam her fists into her bed in frustration when it wasn’t going Utah’s way. She’s the lady in the leading picture. More on her later. Anyway, I became friends with the girl I met in my health class, we talked Jazz basketball, and that motivated me to be more informed about how they were doing. She introduced me to this website, which was my first exposure to the Utah Jazz blogosphere, and I’ve been a regular reader ever since. Now I’m even a very irregular contributor. (Call me the Curtis Borchardt of SLC Dunk) She’s now happily married to a great guy, and we still text back and forth about the team from time to time. It’s her I have to thank for helping me make the jump from “ball is alright, I guess” to “ball is life.”
Thankfully, I was spared most of the Tyrone Corbin era because I served an LDS mission in Indiana, and you guys were spared all the weird takes from myself and Jazzyman, because he left about the same time as me. However, while I was still focused on stuff other than that, I followed Ty Corbin, Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, and S.W.A.R.M. as closely as I could. I took my great-grandma, now 96 years old, to a game in 2011, and Debbie Floerchinger, an amazing Jazz PR rep, got us seats on the second row. At that point, instead of hitting her bed with her fists, she just about beat a hole in my leg as the Jazz topped Demarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings in overtime. Now she’s 100, and still the biggest Jazz fan I know.
I returned home from my mission to a more optimistic fanbase, (as optimistic as Jazz fans get, anyway) and a far, far more exciting coach and core. That’s basically the era we’re in now. The Gobert-Hayward era. Hopefully, (please don’t jinx this, basketball gods) it will be the Gobert-Hayward-Exum era soon. We’ve got a good thing going here at SLC Dunk, the greater Jazzland blogosphere, and the twitterverse. We disagree on things, (so many things) but we’re all united in cheering for our favorite team. What’s next? I don’t think anybody knows. We could be heading for a top-3 seed in the Western Conference, or we could be rebuilding yet again, fighting for the 8th spot. If Dennis Lindsey can figure out how to keep the pieces he likes right now and improve on even one of the ones he doesn’t, this team is going places next year.
Hope springs eternal. Even in Jazzland.
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