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Tuesday Topic: Embracing your Utah Jazz fandom and a rambling love letter to the franchise

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Tuesday Topic #1: Are there things you love more than the Utah Jazz? And why do you love the Utah Jazz in the first place?

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I usually bombard everyone with Utah Jazz information that no one asked for, but also information that seems to be so utterly useless that they don't create any real discussions. I love going back into history and learning more about the franchise. I enjoy trying to better identify where our current team stands, both against the modern era peer group and against the Jazz teams we used to root for in the past. But really, this isn't about me. This is about us. And similarly, our site here isn't just supposed to be some AllThatEchoChamber. There's a responsibility that I have that I want to honor. This site is supposed to be a community where we all have our say, and we all get to share in the everyday ups and downs of the team we love.

Stats can be boring. History is a subject we all fell asleep during back when we were in school. Most of us visit this page as a source of entertainment, a diversion from our normal work or school responsibilities. The last thing I want for this place is for it to become just another place for ‘homework' or brain work. It's supposed to be fun.

Every morning is a new day where I am lucky enough to write for a community of Utah Jazz fans from all over the world and from all walks of life. And I don't want to write or investigate topics that are primarily for me that you are all forced to read - regardless of their larger Jazz fan base interest level. I want to write and create content for you all to consume that you want to consume. So this is a call out for requests.

Tell me what you want. I'll do my best to give it to you.

I don't want to just leave this here so empty, so I will explain a little more about what the Utah Jazz mean to me. It's generic, yet personal. And it's a big departure from my normal boring numbers junk. And while I said above that this site isn't about me, maybe this self reflection will be something you enjoy, or at the very least, encourage some of you (lurkers even!) to share with the rest of the class.

Very few things in my life are more important to me than the Utah Jazz. That's honestly something I am ashamed to admit and also very proud to announce. I love the Utah Jazz. I love the Utah Jazz more than some of the people I went through school with. I love the Utah Jazz more than some of my relatives. I love the Utah Jazz more than almost all of the girls I've ever dated. The list of things I love the Utah Jazz more than is an almost infinitely long list. It's just shorter to do the opposite, "what are the things I love more than the Utah Jazz?"

If you ask that question to yourself I'm sure we'll find a lot of common ground. We love life itself, and the people in our lives who make it worth living. That's a no-brainer. We may love concepts or ideals more than the Jazz as well. Most of us would agree that, for example, the Utah Jazz are ultimately less important to the human race as space exploration or at least, the detection of oncoming asteroids or whatever. But if you move along the list of things more important than the Jazz - if you are anything like me - then you realize that is a finite list, compared to the nearly infinite one of things you place the Jazz over.

That dude who cut me off in traffic with the Calvin peeing on something truck decal? Screw that guy. The Utah Jazz are way more important than him, right?

Exactly.

From personal experience I kind of found the Utah Jazz randomly. For a lot of international Jazz fans this is really how it happens. For people born within the local media market I can only imagine that you get to adopt it much earlier in life. Nevertheless, as a boy I totally fell hard for the Jazz.

The uniforms and colors were amazing. As a music lover, including Jazz music, the note logo was the ‘bomb'. I adored coach Frank Layden. I hated big market teams and all the flakes who loved them. And watching Karl Malone dominate people out there on the court helped seal the deal. I intoxicated myself with the Jazz. Almost every birthday or Christmas present was somehow Jazz related. Distant relatives would randomly mail me something just because it had the Jazz logo on it. As a teen the team became a contender. And excuse me for repeating myself again and again, I used to color coordinate what clothes I wore depending on if they were playing at home or on the road.

There was no greater hobby than following the Jazz, even though there were many to choose from. There was no more important news story than finding a few weeks old boxscore in an American newspaper that someone else discarded in a library. I didn't care about looking cool for my peers, I cared about making sure I wrote something purple every time our guys went out on the road. This was the team I wanted to root for . . . forever. If there was a free choice creative writing assignment I would write about one day meeting John Stockton and Karl Malone. How corny, right? Now I get to write for millions of other Jazz fans who share my passions. I bet the teenaged me would have found that impossible. I bet the teenaged me would also probably proofread more than I currently do.

It didn't matter where I lived, or what time zone I happened to be in - the persistent, never ending love of the Jazz went with me all through my personal development. As a basketball fan surrounded by hockey fans in Canada I felt the need to explain to my friends that the Jazz would have defeated the Cavaliers if there was a 3rd place series in 1992. I won a lot of pub trivia in the UK because of my esoteric knowledge of Mark Eaton's defensive prowess, Adrian Dantley's scoring, and many things in-between. The only photograph or picture I have in my wallet still today is a newspaper clipping of John Stockton scoring against the Sacramento Kings that I got from an Indian language newspaper when I was doing a PSM elective there.

Even just today my parents wanted to FaceTime with me but I declined it because the Jazz were in the middle of losing in double overtime to a horrible expansion team.

So why do I love the Jazz? This is the harder question. But in a way, it's simpler as well. Essentially, few things in my life have ever, ever, ever made me happier in life, or filled me with so much joy. After all the first round exits, free agency flubs, and silly coaching decisions in close games by just existing, by just being the Jazz, my life is better for it. I've delivered babies; said goodbye to dying loved ones; I've seen ancient ruins and mysterious places. And I've found a place in this universe that I can understand. Yet out of all of the experiences I've had come and go the Jazz experience is one that hasn't ever gone away.

I'm older now. I know how far this team is from a championship. And at times, I will rather watch a game on League pass after the fact than make sure I am at home to watch it live. There are changes with how I behave as a Jazz fan. This is the natural process. But one thing is clear in my mind - it's that I've seen a team grow together and become a legit championship contender. And I remember what that's like. I will never forget it. I'll never forget that spark of abject, unwavering fandom that I had as a teen.

And I feel like I have to do a better job of both showing that, but also helping to make sure all of you rekindle that love, that uncontrollable happiness that only the Utah Jazz can make you feel.

Of course I want the team to be their best. But I need to remember that the younger me was elated that they just existed at all.

Furthermore, I'm not just supposed to be writing for eggheads who like stats - and I'm not just writing for 30, 40, and 50 year olds (and above) who remember the top of the mountain. Some of you are teens as well. Some of you who visit this site are in their full Jazz blooms. And I want this site to feel every bit your site as it is mine.

I want to write for all Jazz fans. I want us all to write for one another. I want us to write about how we love the Utah Jazz, even if . . . even if our head coach forgets that we have two defensive seven footers on the roster . . . or if our guys under the age of 25 occasionally miss a lot of open shots . . . or even if our best possible star player turns the ball over in crunch time . . . or even if our Top 5 lotto pick from last season isn't going to play a single minute this season.

I know that I will always love the Jazz and care so much for them because whenever they lose it makes me upset and often angry. And I know that I will always love the Jazz because even if they win a game against a bad team it still makes me feel every bit as invincible and happy as I was when they would win years ago.

If I've waited decades for a championship then logically I can wait another season before making the playoffs if that's our fate this year. After all, one of the best moments of my life is yet to come, and it will be a memory us Jazz fans hold forever when we beat the Los Angeles Lakers in game 82 this year. After all, the big picture is just filled up with so many small, individual, small pictures. And even though the Jazz lost yesterday, watching Rudy Gobert throw down that slam to help send the Jazz to double overtime . . . that brought me a lot of joy. Not as much as John Stockton sending the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals. But still a sincere, non-cynical level of joy and happiness that few things in this terrible world can so selflessly give.

I love the Utah Jazz because they've been with me during most of my life, and been such a big source of happiness for me. I love the Utah Jazz because of how they play, the players they have on the team, and the overall feel of the organization is a good fit for me and my personality. I love the Utah Jazz because of all of the really cool, funny, smart, talented, and caring people I've met by sharing a fandom with them. And I love the Utah Jazz because this is a team I really enjoy rooting for. This season's team is not perfect. But despite all the setbacks and tough losses I see a very exciting future. A see a Utah Jazz future I want to cheer for, be a part of, and remember forever with all the other fond memories I've saved from all the last few decades of Utah Jazz basketball.

Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in making the Utah Jazz such a positive force in my life. And thank you to all of you here at SLC Dunk who helped keep me a Utah Jazz fan even when things looked their worst.