The Pain of Being a Jazz Fan

August 9th, 2013 | by Scott Stevens

The greatest player in NBA history still gets a lot of press; you can’t talk about Lebron’s potential legacy or any part of Kobe’s game without referencing MJ. And if there’s only one play they can show, it’s always the same one.

As a Jazz fan, I don’t see Jordan at all. I see Bryon Russell stumbling to recover. I see John Stockton throw his hands up in disbelief. I see the faces of hundreds of fans in the background realizing what just happened.

I wonder if other fan bases really understand. If they can ever fully sympathize with that feeling. To pull a dagger out of your back, then relive it over and over. Again and again. The Jazz didn’t just lose two NBA championships to him. They gave him a perfect posterization of defeat.

The pain of being a Jazz fan. Sure, every fan base has their pit falls. But there’s something about being a Jazz fan that is so much more difficult.

Utah is a small market team. It’s always going to be a small market team. The recently released NBA TV schedule, with the Jazz’s three nationally televised games, is evidence of how hard national coverage is to come by.

Except for that shot.

Would the average NBA fan even remember Bryon Russell’s name if it weren’t for that play?

Until Real Salt lake came along, the state of Utah was a one trick pony when it came to professional sports. It was Utah Jazz or bust. And for years, that was fine. Everyone drank the kool-aid. Because they were winning.

Stockton and Malone were piling up the achievements and selling a few Hondas along the way. But then came the dark ages of Salt Lake City.

The Jazz lost a lot of good fans during that time. Maybe not the die-hards, but the casual ones. My siblings and parents were among the unfaithful. Does any other fan base know what that feels like? For you own blood to encourage you to give fandom up.

The Jazz love to tease their fans. It seems like each new year offers some glimmer of hope. They get everyone’s hopes up and then smash them to pieces. It’s nice to stay competitive throughout the years, but in the end, the Jazz have the same amount to show for it as the rest of the bottom feeders.

So why do I keep putting myself through it? Why do I continually hit refresh as I wait for the season schedule to be released? Why do I check the standings when I know nothing has changed since the night before? Why do I that multiple times a day?

Because that’s what it means to be a fan. Not just any fan—a JAZZ fan.

If I had the chance to go back and do it all again, would I? Would I ride out two long hall-of-fame careers only to fall short at the finish line? Would I go through a difficult rebuilding process with a brief stint of success with a PG that didn’t want to be here only to fall right back into rebuild 2.0?


That’s what makes Jazz fans different than other fans. I’ll just learn to get used to Jordan highlights along the way.

Scott Stevens

A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.

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  1. Rodrigo says:

    Just Beatiful. Go Jazz!

  2. Chad says:

    Oh but wait. THe new CBA should change a few things around the league! In a few years the Jazz could once again compete for a title. The legacy teams will slowly break apart in a couple years and the ones built on teams instead of stars should be able to break through. GO JAZZ!

  3. Nick Herman says:

    Great article!

    It’s unfortunate that other Jazz fans have become unfaithful through the years. Hopefully this youth movement will bring back Jazz Nation to what it used to be! Go Jazz!

    I also wrote a little something on my blog about this very same thing a couple a days ago, check it out if you want!

  4. Ben says:

    I would argue that there are other fan bases that can understand (although perhaps not in the NBA).

    Ask any pre-2004 Red Sox fan about Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, or Aaron Boone.
    Ask any Chicago Cubs fan about Steve Bartman.
    Ask any Buffalo Bills fan about Scott Norwood.

    The Bills example is particularly apt because Buffalo, like Salt Lake City, doesn’t have another professional team to soothe its pain. Buffalo, you’ll remember, lost four straight Super Bowls.

    We’re in pretty good company. . . not that it makes it any less painful.

    • Ben says:

      My bad, Buffalo has the Sabres in the NHL. I briefly forgot that hockey is a thing. Still, I feel a kinship with Buffalo.

  5. ChippewaCreeGee says:

    1) I am comfortably under the realization that “My Jazz” may never an NBA Title. But how great it will be if the impossible becomes a reality!!!
    2)Great Subject Matter but was that supposed to be a tweet or an article (no disrespect Scott) but there is a WHOLE LOT MORE you failed to address when it comes to being A JAZZ FAN but you are on point when calling it PAINFUL.
    3)If we could have got past the Spurs in the ’07 WC Finals we would have had a better of beating a young LeBron than a (HATE TO SAY IT) Great Jordan twice. So you can kinda say we lost the NBA Finals three times? Right Jazz Nation

  6. Roy Smith says:

    There was never any pain as a Jazz fan back in the Stockton and Malone days. Of course it was difficult to watch Utah come so close to a championship, but honestly there is nobody I’d rather lose to than Michael Jordan.

    Watching him play basketball was like witnessing Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel or sculpt David, or Leonardo paint the Mona LIsa or the Last Supper. The pain was dulled by watching the greatest player of all time win his sixth championship ring with surgical precision.

    The real pain came after both players retired and the organization tried extending and reliving the golden years on what little fumes were left in the tank. Kevin O’Connor refused to enter rebuilding mode, and the plan to return to the championship (drafting mid lottery and trading away those picks while filling out the roster with has-been veterans) seemed half assed.

    It’s nice to see Dennis Lindsey with a fresh approach and true commitment to rebuilding a championship caliber team and returning the Jazz name to greatness. As painful as next season might be, we approach it with determination and eyes toward the larger goal.

  7. Bill M says:

    Nice article, but we’re far behind Cleveland in this category, as is everyone else.

    Denver has never made the Finals. No one under the age of 55 can clearly remember the Bucks last trip to the Finals.

    But yes, it hurts. Hakeem got us as badly as MJ (& Bavetta) did. LHM’s brawl in the stands may have cost us a sweep in ’94. 2008 was a golden opportunity to steal one but missed FTs cost us a sweep v Houston. And ’96, & ’88 and on & on.

    All that said, Karl’s gotta hold on to that rebound. No way Bulls win Game 7 here in ’98. They were physically done. MJ would’ve scored 70 in 48 minutes but it wouldn’t have mattered; Pippen & Rodman were shells. Dang it all…

  8. Ryan says:

    Wow!!! I thought I was the only one who felt like that! That makes me a little happier. But what always cheers me up… is to think “how amazing it is going to feel when we finally win”! I’m a little worried to be honest. What if Utah errupts into a gigantic riot!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!!!

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