I’ve been wondering this week, during the doldrums of summer in between the start of free agency and training camp, what makes a fan a fan? And what makes a Jazz fan a Jazz fan? We each have a bunch of reasons why we root for a team, so I thought I’d try and break down what’s far from an all-inclusive list. We’ve got a list here for some causes of Jazzitis, and some side effects.
1. They’re the local team.
This is probably the most logical, most practical reason for many Jazz fans. You live in Utah, you have lived in Utah, you’ve got family in Utah, etc. It’s the team you grew up with, the games your parents took you to when you were three years old and got you one of those mini jerseys. With no other major sporting team in town (until RSL in the last decade), the Jazz have been what it’s all about for decades. It’s in your blood. Maybe you grew up playing Junior Jazz and you remember when one of the players came to your tiny town and you’ve been hooked ever since. Maybe your family got hooked when they played at the Salt Palace and tickets were cheap and easy to come by, especially in the mid-80’s.
2. Stockton and Malone.
Perhaps you came to love the Jazz during the Stockton-to-Malone years. Two superstars who stayed in Utah for their entire careers (I block out Malone in gold-and-purple; it never happened), who played hard every night, who played both ends of the floor, and who racked up the stats and accolades while doing whatever they could to help the team win. The Stockton-to-Malone pick and roll was a thing of beauty, and Stockton’s perfect passes and Malone’s post moves were the constants in the Jazz offense. You can still remember The Shot that sent the Jazz to the NBA Finals. And you still feel like Jordan pushed off on Bryon Russell.
3. Substance over style.
For years, the Jazz have eschewed style over substance, emphasizing team play over individual play. Jerry Sloan wouldn’t put up with it when Karl Malone wanted to wear a different shoe color than his teammates. It’s about the team. Superstars have their importance in this league and that’s recognized, but isolation play after isolation play has never been accepted as the norm. The flex offense, when instituted fully, created opportunities for every player who made hard cuts and set good screens. In a league that’s so often focused on one or two players on each team, the team emphasis in Utah is incredibly refreshing and plays well among the fans.
4. Consistent Management and Involved Ownership.
In a league where ownership of small-market teams can change once or twice a decade, and where management changes even more than that, the Jazz are a refreshing example that consistency can be a good thing. Some may argue that management has not taken enough risks and, while there may be some validity to that, with Dennis Lindsey in town, there may be some more risk-taking. This is evidenced by the draft and the handling of the Jazz’s own free agents this offseason. This coming season is a risk. A very calculated one, and with a consistent management team and involved ownership, we’ll see if it pays off in the next few years. But management with a specific plan in place is a lot easier to get behind.
1. You hate the Lakers. And you especially hate when the Lakers come into town because you see more gold-and-purple jerseys than Stockton jerseys at the Delta Center, and that’s just never okay.
2. Yes, that was a correct reference in the point above: you still have the hardest time calling the Delta Center anything but the Delta Center. The current name of the Delta Center is too long and awkward, so it’s just easier to call it the Delta Center. Everyone knows what you mean, anyway.
3. You buy a car from a Stockton or a Malone dealership. Because why not? Or maybe you went to Karl Malone’s dealership for his birthday to celebrate.
4. You root for Jazz men who gave their all in Utah but who ended up on other teams: Memo, AK, Millsap, Jefferson, etc.
5. You’re still bitter about how some things went down with some players, so you boo—whether internally or externally—other players: Derek Fisher, Deron Williams, etc.
6.. You name your son Stockton. (you’re awesome, David J. Smith)
So, what makes you a Jazz fan? And what are some of the side effects?