My family and I are enjoying some quality time at Disneyland. In fact, we are actually in the midst of our second trip in the past month. Say what you want about the Happiest Place in the World–it’s cliche, overpriced, etc. Well, for us, we love it. I am writing this post after a long, but enjoyable 12-hour day in the park. So fittingly, I’ve got Disneyland on the mind.
And like most of you, the Utah Jazz find their way into most aspects of my life. I manage to connect the every-day aspects of my day, my job or my routines to the Jazz. It just happens. Don’t deny it–you probably do it, too. Naturally I’ve drawn some parallels to our Disneyland experience with the Utah Jazz. It definitely helps that I’m donning my Jazz gear among the sea of Lakers jerseys1.
Anticipation: There is something special about stepping through the Disneyland gates. It takes me back to my childhood and that feeling of unfiltered, unadulterated excitement I felt as we walked down Main Street USA, knowing that adventure and fun awaited me. Well, I felt that again yesterday as we arrived. The excitement was actually heightened due to this being our first time at Disneyland during the Christmas season. We had heard a lot about how the park changes during the holidays.
Here’s the Utah Jazz parallel. Every year, when the Utah Jazz season begins, you cannot help but be excited. Having basketball back is like welcoming a friend who’s been away for a long time. This year was not an exception. In fact, there was much more anticipation behind this as the team seems to be embarking on a new era–just like celebrating holidays at Disneyland. There is a newish general manager calling the shots, a new coach at the helm and a group of players growing into their NBA roles and identities. While we’re more than a tenth into the season, there still is an excitement about this team and an anticipation that the franchise is on the right trajectory.
Fast passes: The fast pass is one of my favorite parts of the Disneyland experience. You all know how it works: the busiest, most popular rides2 grant patrons the chance of getting a pass for a one-hour span later in the day. This helps them bypass the normal long lines, while enjoying other rides in the meantime. Plus, one cannot help but feel totally awesome as you walk effortless past all those in the standby line. It’s a false sense of favoritism, but it’s still pretty fun.
Well, there is no fast pass for the Utah Jazz – no way of skipping through the normal phases and trends that teams in the middle of a rebuilding project experience. There will be ups and downs, highs and lows. With Quin Snyder at the helm, this team is showing some great progress. Each game, there are flashes of brilliance, teamwork and progress. All bias aside, this is one of the most entertaining rosters in the NBA this season. That said, there are also bouts of stagnant offense, inattentive defense and turnover-riddled outings, as is the case with any young team. There will be growing pains–a lot of them. And there will be no way of avoiding them. For example, while the dramatic finishes against Cleveland and New York were exciting, Utah dropped the subsequent games. In short, the Jazz faithful must have patience. It’s what the front office and coaches preach constantly. If the fan base does so, they will be in for a fun ride in the long run.
Customer Service: Disneyland does a stellar job taking care of its visitors. Much has been said in leadership books and articles about their above and beyond customer service. We’ve seen that time and again. They do things right.
Similarly, the Jazz organization works hard to make the fan experience great. From the EnergySolutions crew to those who man the team’s social media, it goes to great lengths to bring the team to the fans.
Perspective: The absolute best part of Disneyland for me is watching things through my four children’s eyes. Every thing, from the big to the mundane here, is magical for them. In turn, that makes it magical for me.
As Utah Jazz fans, we tend to analyze every aspect of the team. We spend lots of time looking deeply at such topics as the team’s defense on the pick-and-roll, half-court sets, Coach Snyder’s rotations and salary projections. And we certainly should. It’s a big part of following a sports team. That said, we should also take the time to enjoy the fun that is basketball. It’s a beautiful sport and we get the chance of watching our team play it makes it even more special.
There’s more where those came from, but for the sake of all that’s good, we’ll leave it there. Now, if you’ll pardon us, we’ve got another day of Disney on the docket.