GOOD SPORT: My love for Utah Jazz began at birth


Circa 2018

  I’ve been a Utah Jazz fan my whole life. The Utah Jazz is an NBA team that most people aren’t familiar with because when thinking of the NBA their minds go to Lebron James or the Golden State Warriors.

  I was born into Jazz fandom because my dad has been a fan of them since 1974 when they were the New Orleans Jazz. The only radio station he could get in his room was from New Orleans. He loved Pistol Pete Maravich. 

  I grew up wearing hand me down Jazz clothing from my brothers. When I was five, I went to my first Utah Jazz game in Oklahoma against the OKC Thunder. I met my favorite jazz player at the time, Deron Williams, and he signed me in my little pink Williams t-shirt. It’s still hanging on the wall in my room.

  My most recent favorite Jazz player was Ricky Rubio, not only for his skills on the court but his looks as well. My brother bought me his jersey for my 16th birthday. However, he was signed to the Phoenix Suns in free agency. My heart was broken, but I could never forsake the Jazz. I still cheer for Rubio every time I see him play.

  Our two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is another favorite. He’s a seven-foot one-inch center from France. Without him, our defense wouldn’t be the best in the league right now.

  Then Donovan Mitchell joined the NBA in 2017, and it changed our team for the better. That man can play some basketball and is only three years deep in the league. My dad got me his Issue One shoes for Christmas, and I wear them on special occasions. Along with Mitchell came a variety of new jerseys like the iconic mountain jerseys that Karl Malone and John Stockton wore and the city jersey which is shaded yellow to red to black mimicking the mountains of Utah.

  When I was 15, I went to my second Jazz game in Utah at Vivint Smart Home Arena. I got to see  John Stockton’s and Karl Malone’s statues, walk onto Karl Malone and John Stockton Drives and watch Mitchell drill a three from the Jazz logo! I even took a picture at the iconic music note in front of the arena.

  The 69th NBA All-Star game draft reserves were announced on Feb. 6, and Mitchell and Gobert were drafted. They are the first all-stars for the Jazz since the beginning of 2017. It seemed a miracle for Gobert after winning Defensive Player of the Year last year and not receiving a spot in the all-star game.

  Other well-known Jazz players are Joe Ingles or Jinglin’ Joe, the comedian who knows how to get under his opponents’ skins, Jordan Clarkson, the walking bucket who came from the Cavaliers, Mike Conley or headband Mike, George Niang, the Minivan, and Royce O’Neal, the defensive hustler. Lastly, there’s Bojan Bogdanovic or Bogie, who is excellent at shooting threes. He has made two buzzer-beaters to win games this season against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets. These are just a few of the Jazz players I’ve come to know and love.

  The Houston Rockets are my least favorite NBA team. The Rockets are full of cocky players who need attitude adjustments. James Harden, or as I call him, the bearded lady, and Russell Westbrook, my two least favorite NBA players are who fuel my Rockets hatred. Every time the Jazz plays them, I’m determined that Utah wins. When Bogie made the buzzer-beater over Harden and PJ Tucker, I was so excited. 

  The Jazz has shown the potential to make it far in the playoffs this year. The Jazz had a legendary player named Rodney Clark “Hot Rod” Hundley, who was the number one pick of the 1957 NBA draft and played for the Lakers, as the radio voice of the Jazz for 35 years. He was the commentator during the Malone and Stockton era when they went to the finals in 1998. One day when the Jazz make it to the finals again and hit that glorious game-winning shot, his words  will come to mind, “With a gentle push, and a mild arc, the old cowhide globe hits home.”