During Monday night’s preseason Jazz blowout win over the Clippers, my 12-year-old son and I were fortunate enough to sit in VIP courtside seats for the first time in our lives.
The Happy Dad and Son
The fourth row seats — right behind the visitors’ bench — came courtesy of a winning raffle from Mark Miller Subaru. The local car dealership is a supporter of the nonprofit I work for, HEAL Utah. They were nice enough to host a VIP party last week at which my winning ticket scored us the two fantastic Jazz seats and a signed Rudy Gobert jersey.
OK, enough crowing. Our unique vantage spot did lend itself to observations of the game (and photos scattered throughout this post) that I’ve never been able to gather before. So, in no particular order, here are seven quick takes on the Clippers-Jazz game:
The Jazz pre-game ritual
- The Jazz, as has been reported, engage in a team embrace during the National Anthem. Each player wraps an arm around the shoulders of the player next to him. It is, I guess, a sweet if vague gesture of solidarity meant to demonstrate unity during a time when this pre-game moment has become interestingly politicized. What I did not notice until tonight was that two Jazzmen, with a free hand, put their hands on their heart: Jeff Withey and Chris Johnson. Is this a slight note of independence? Withey, for one, has spoken openly about his strong Christian faith. It’s a small but telling moment.
- I wouldn’t have been able to guess who the most talkative players on the floor would be. But I’d nominate two Jazz chatterboxes: Boris Diaw, who basically never stopped barking out plays and chatting with refs. And, interestingly, Withey, who definitely played the soccer “keeper” role of letting his defenders know where they should be. For the Clippers — who sadly didn’t play any of their three stars — vet Brandon Bass was active talker.
- Sitting behind the Clippers bench, we gleaned more about their culture. And, in away that impressed us. Their stars sat out this preseason match, but traveled to Salt Lake City with their team and stayed engaged. DeAndre Jordan sprang to his feet during every timeout and after every positive play, an affable cheerleader. Both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin coached their teammates, with both focusing on demonstrating position and moves to rookie Diamond Stone, an energetic if raw forward. (By the way, what a world class name!)
- Jordan, generally, is impossible to not like. He’s just goofy and chipper, always bouncing around with a big smile on his face, embracing, goofing with, and cheering on his teammates. It gave me some insight beyond his considerable talent as to why the Mavs and Clippers fought so hard over the young center last summer. That’s a dude people want to hang out with!
- Two other Clippers, on the other hand, seemed less happy. I didn’t realize until Monday that Raymond Felton had landed on the Clippers on a one-year contract. The scowling journeyman point guard definitely fits well the Clippers well-known penchant for irritated complaining. As did the coach’s son, Austin Rivers, who was the only player we heard audibly swear, dropping a loud F-bomb after being stripped by Jzz guard Dante Exum.
- George Hill wears some combo of compression shorts and thigh pads that I’ve never seen before. They look like he’s ready for combat — or about to catch a pass over the middle.
- OK, I’m 45, so time for Old Man Corner. I really loathe the nonstop music during the games. I get the fun dancing and goofy gimmicks during time outs. I like that. But the nonstop techno pumping loudly during every moment of every game? During play itself? Who likes that? Here we’re just a few feet from the court and we could barely hear the players or the coaches. Why do arenas feel the need to drown out the sound ]of the game itself? Me Grumpy.
A fun night. Thanks again to Mark Miller Subaru!
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