NBA Playoffs Round 2: Lakers at Jazz Game 4 Preview

May 10th, 2010 | by Spencer Hall

Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

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Game Details:
Coverage: TNT
8:30 PM MDT, May 10, 2010
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

ESPN Preview

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By now you all know the details. You’ve come down off the ledge after Saturday’s instant-classic-with-the-wrong-ending. So what do you think about tonight? I think the Jazz come out flat but end up fighting back and eventually win the game on pride alone. There is no empirical basis for that prediction, only one man’s wish to not have to watch a sweep.

In the meantime, let’s talk Derek Fisher for a minute. All the reports of the game are going crazy about Jazz fans booing Fish, which is clearly a euphemism for the nasty, personal, taunting things that are hurled his way every time he plays in SLC, post-Jazz. The booing alone is no reason for people to be upset; Carmelo was booed, Kobe gets booed, Dirk gets booed, even the Red Panda would get booed if she came out to perform wearing a Lakers jersey.

As someone in attendance during the game, I can honestly say it didn’t seem like Fisher was getting booed any worse than any of the other visiting players. Arash Markazi heard some things that he described thusly: “To say their taunts are personal and crossing the line would be a massive understatement.”

I have my opinions on the circumstances surrounding Fisher’s departure from Utah a few years ago, but it seems irrelevant anyway. I can’t, and won’t, defend the actions of the fans who choose to yell personal insults at the players, no matter the back story. It’s always unnerving, in any arena, to watch a fan scream at a player with the kind of venom that reveals nasty things about our society. Pardon the metaphor, but it’s like watching a 14-year old kid shaking cages in a pet store. He’s always tough when they can’t bite back.

I’d like to see the day when the whole “____ sucks” chant is completely forgotten. It’s just embarrassing and isn’t even original. Any chanting that happens should be original at least, and funny at best. Good fan work is exactly that: it’s work. The geniuses sitting behind the basket in Game 3 wearing the same clothes as Kobe from his exotic East India pictures for the LA Times Magazine? Perfect.

Personally, I just want to be entertained. AND ARE WE NOT ENTERTAINED? Fisher may have ripped out the hearts of Jazz fans with his performance in Game 3, but it wasn’t long ago that he gave us one of the greatest moments in Jazz history when he checked into the game straight from the airport and hit a huge 3 to push the Jazz to victory. Few players in the history of the game have had as many big moments in the playoffs as Fisher, and I appreciate it. All I want from a game, or a movie, or a concert, is to be entertained, and Fisher has done more that his fair share of that over the years.

Anyway, let’s bring the noise tonight and keep it interesting and funny. And obviously cancer- and kid-free, sheesh. We probably shouldn’t even have to set that as a baseline. As an olive branch to Fisher, here’s a clip from his website offering some insight into what was going on when he was released from his contract with the Jazz by the late owner Larry Miller.

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If you’d like a little pick-me-up, check out the nice post by nice post by JL Cauvin on why we follow the Jazz. There are a few factual errors, but it’s the sentiment I enjoy.

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Follow the game on the ESPN Daily Dime Live Chat. I’ll be taking questions and posting your comments. Stop in and say what’s on your mind.

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at KSL.com
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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9 Comments

  1. Clint says:

    You nailed it, Spence. Well spoken.

  2. dustball says:

    What about Fisher giving up $8million to move his daughter closer to a hospital with doctors who specialize in her rare form of cancer requires your “opinions on the circumstances?” Anything other than empathy for a human being watching his baby fight for her life is just despicable. We all love our teams, but for these players it is their job. He did what any good father would do and changed companies to take care of his family. Get over your pathetic allegiance to a jersey and show the slightest semblance of a soul.

  3. Wow, did you even pay attention to what I wrote? I’m coming to Fisher’s defense. The opinions I’m talking about are actually pro-Fisher. Does that show enough semblance of a soul for you? Yikes.

    Between angry Jazz fans and obnoxious Laker fans it was a bad night for civility all the way around.

  4. dustball says:

    I did pay attention. Very close attention. What I read is as close to a backhanded olive branch as could exist (if such a thing did exist). Fisher left a team fresh off the conference finals to play for a group that started Smush Parker, Kwame Brown and Brian Cook. A group that couldn’t get out of the first round, and a whose star was demanding a trade. He gave up $8 million dollars to make that switch, and the only reason was because his daughter’s life was in the balance.

    You say that you have your own “opinions on the circumstances surrounding Fisher’s departure,” and that you “can’t, and wont, defend the actions of fans… no matter the back story.” What are these circumstances? What is this back story? What could possibly require defense or opinion? The man was trying to save his baby’s life, and gave up an enormous amount to do it. Yes, things worked out for him, but don’t we all hope that life works out that way? Why can’t Utah celebrate that a family man was rewarded in life for sacrificing for his child?

    This whole thing is really unfortunate. Jerry Sloan is an idol of mine. I wanted to be a coach and coached at the high school level through college. He is everything a basketball coach is supposed to be, and a class act. The late Larry Miller was one of the classiest men in sports, and almost without exception the players have represented his image and the franchise well throughout my lifetime. However, for all the greatness exhibited by the employees and representatives of this franchise, the fans have served to crush all good will they might receive. The Jazz should be the lovable losers. They should be the team that everyone hopes can finally get over the hump. Yet, they manage to be hated despite failing to win titles. Utah is better than that. The LDS community is better than that. I just wish it showed.

    • Dusty – you may have paid attention but you conflated my position with the classless stuff being hurled at Fisher. Clearly I haven’t explained myself well enough because you seem committed to misinterpreting my thoughts and intentions. First of all, let me say it one more time: I support Fisher, I appreciate everything he does for his family and the community, and I want nothing but good things to come his way. The point of my story was a call for civility in the arena and especially toward the players.

      The part I think you’re getting hung up on is my point that it’s irrelevant. In other words, even if Fisher had done something shady I still wouldn’t condone the fan behavior we’ve seen. Don’t misinterpret that to mean I’m questioning his integrity. On the other hand, there are guys in the league who have done all kinds of things and have left themselves wide open to personal attacks. I’m saying that I don’t come to a game to hear a fan screaming insults at The Birdman, for example.

      Now, as to my choice of words. There absolutely is a back story and there are circumstances to Fisher’s signing with the Lakers that make the situation a bit more gray than the black and white you’ve described. I’m not interested in getting into it, and it doesn’t really matter in the end. As I said in the post, I just want to be entertained, and I think we can all do a better job of creating an atmosphere where sports is more fun.

      Lastly, I actually agree completely with your last paragraph. That’s the thesis of the post I wrote after Game 4. I’m as disappointed as anyone about the way Utah has somehow become the Duke of the NBA, sans the titles. Like you say, we need to be better than that.

      Anyway, thanks for reading.

  5. dustball says:

    Spence, I appreciate all of that. Saltcityhoops is one of my favorite blogs to read when I am avoiding doing actual work. I think Jazz fans have created the gray in a black and white story, though. Just because Fish was taking his daughter to a hospital in NY doesn’t mean that the cap strung Knicks or the rebuilding with youth Nets were interested in signing him. And if they were, it didn’t make it the best situation for his family. He came to a city his family was familiar with, where they had friends and an organization that wanted him. The combination of those factors and the presence of hospitals like UCLA made it a pretty clear choice. I realize you aren’t defending the actions of fans. I would just like to see more Utah writers explain these obvious realities.

    Anyway… Keep up the good work as always. If I’m ever mortally offended by something you write, I’ll be sure to post again. haha.

  6. KB824 says:

    I would just like to say I agree with you 100%. I think it is wrong the way these UTAH JAZZ fans act toward Derek Fisher, he was a man just trying to find a better situation for his baby girl, these fans should have some respect for that, they dont realize how childish and immature they make themselves look on national TV for the world too see. Very un-classy!!!!!

  7. dustball says:

    And here’s to a successful off-season. Deron deserves more help.

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