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Why I’m a fan of the Jazz Fan: The Jr. Jazz

Junior Jazz and nacho incidents

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I honestly don’t remember when I first became a Jazz fan. It feels like I was born that way. There wasn’t a moment where I saw a ridiculous assist by the legend, John Stockton, or some sort of event where Karl Malone tussled my poorly combed hair.

Perhaps is was foretold by the ancients, the basketball gods who sit upon blue and red clouds who blessed my mother with an underwhelming child who would have a superhuman ability to enjoy long rebuilds and developing Aussies. Or maybe it was because we had KJZZ and my dad would watch games here and there.

Either way, I had some great memories watching the Jazz. One of my favorite stories was my first Junior Jazz team went to our annual game. If you’re not familiar, every Junior Jazz team gets tickets to see the Jazz. Your whole team gets together and watches the game. It’s a blast.

It’s important to note that these were my only chances to go to Jazz games as a kid. My mom and dad didn’t have a lot of money. My mom worked graveyard shifts at the grocery store so she could be home for us during the day, and my dad worked for years as an adjunct professor while he worked towards a full time position. Because of this, I got to do one sport a year. My parents also gave me an allowance of $1 a week, and I made that dollar stretch! I remember saving for 20 weeks and buying Major League Baseball for Nintendo and playing that till my thumbs were calloused over. I remember for the Jazz game I had a few dollars saved up and my mom was really nice and gave me $5 or so to buy something.

When we got to the game I was in heaven. It was my first visit to basketball mecca, the Delta Center. It was also during the prime Stockton and Malone years. My group walked around the arena picking out their different snacks for the game. I was so excited to have enough money to buy whatever I wanted. Anything. And there it was, the perfect choice. Nachos. But for like 6 bucks! It took all I had but I was happy to pay it.

Looking back now they were obviously cheap nachos. The round yellow chips with liquid “cheese.” I wanted to appear tough so I also got the jalapeños plopped on. Happily, I walked through the entryway to the arena. That first moment entering the stands still gets me every time. The Jazz court is holy ground to me, there’s a moment of reverence as you take in the grandeur of the court and the crowd before you head to your seat. But this was my first time. It was special. I was certainly slack-jawed as I mumbled “thanks” as the attendant handed me my program.

I then saw how steep the stairs were. For someone like me, with a fear of heights, it was a little scary. I gripped the rails and bumbled up the stairs. And that’s when it happened. I don’t remember if I was trying to look at the program as I walked up, or if I was looking behind me at the court as I climbed. Whatever it was, I dropped my nachos.

I didn’t cry, even though I wanted to as I stared at the yellow mess on the stairs. There was only one thought in my head: Did anyone see? We had gotten to the arena early and people were sparse. I looked around hoping that no one saw. To my left was some middle aged lady. She said nothing, only watched. I can’t pick them up in front of her, can I? This was one of those moments where I grew up a little. (The other was that time at a friends sleepover when I had to cut my own waffles.) I looked her in the eye, bent down and scraped every bit of my nachos into the paper bowl thing. She gave a look of disgust and I walked happily to my seat next to my teammates and promptly watched John Stockton make remarkable assists to Karl Malone.

I was a Jazz fan for life.

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