It was 7:08 p.m. as I sat down on my couch to blissfully enjoy my favorite activity of the day. The Utah Jazz were set to take on the Phoenix Suns as they continued on their journey to beat out the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. “Complete Signal Loss,” scrolled across my screen as I slowly realized that I had forgotten my Dish had been dislodged from the top of my house. I was furious that I couldn’t enjoy the only professional team in our state, that I couldn’t jovially smile when they played well or endlessly whine when they underwhelmed.
While I know many other teams have die hard fans, it’s hard to imagine other NBA fans who support their team quite like Utah Jazz fans do. As previously stated, the only major professional sports team has found it’s way into the hearts of many in the Wasatch Front and beyond. From the older lady who walks laps around EnergySolutions before games to young adults in their mid-twenties to grade school kids who connect with the Jazz through their youth basketball program, it’s an organization that has captured the adoration of many.
“Well, I love the Jazz because my dad has always loved the Jazz, and my grandpa loved them as well,” said lifelong Jazz fan Jesse Wilkinson. “Growing up, on mornings when I visited my grandparents, I remember that my grandpa would bother to even read the box scores for guys like Adam Keefe, or Gordan Giricek. So, I’ve known the roster inside and out since I was little. Hard to not love them after that.”
The undying loyalty that a lot of Jazz fans show towards obscure players such as Keefe or Giricek just shows how important the team is to some individuals. Jazz fans don’t move on to the Clippers because they acquired Chris Paul or start to cheer for the Nets because they’re in chic Brooklyn, they’re loyal. Almost to a fault. When the team is struggling at home, they boo. When the team is struggling on the road, they tweet. But it’s all born from the love they have for the one hometown team.
It’s hard to imagine other markets supporting a team like people in Utah support the Jazz. The Jazz are merely fighting for a chance to be the “David” to the San Antonio Spurs “Goliath”, but fans still care. They still fill EnergySolutions in their jerseys, hats, flashing lights, foam fingers and even sometimes in those weird spandex suits. It’s truly unique.
What other organization in the National Basketball Association has seen the kind of stability that the Jazz have had? None. Whether it was Jerry Sloan, John Stockton, or Karl Malone, Jazz fans are used to having a product on the hardwood that didn’t disappoint. That’s why it has become so hard for a lot of fans to see the Jazz slip from the upper-echelon over the last few years.
It was two years ago that Deron Williams had just been traded, Jerry Sloan quit, and the 2011 season was slipping away. Even amongst such chaos, fans were still there. There to support Ty Corbin as he delved into a daunting situation. I eventually took down my shrine to D-Will and embraced my inner Jazz fanhood by trading in my #8 jersey’s for a #15 Derrick Favors one.
Lakers or Heat fans will never truly appreciate a championship. Why should they? In their youth they were Bulls fans cheering on Michael Jordan and soon they’ll be purchasing a Kevin Durant jersey. Real fans stand by their team, in sickness and in health. We don’t believe in bandwagons. When the Jazz hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time, the collective euphoria amongst Jazz fans will be unreal.
Players, coaches, and the front office change, but Jazz fans never waver. It’s what we believe. And always will.