01 July 2011
I think a lot of you might have read his introduction piece yesterday over at Searching for The Statues. We just want introduce Matt officially. You can follow him on twitter here @Mattbeoh. Welcome Matt, we are glad to have you.
The T-Shirt, or How I got here.
The tears were not yet dry on my cheeks when Dad ushered me into the car and drove me up Parley's Way to K-Mart for a souvenir. The attempt on his part to soften the blow delivered with a slight shove from his Airness was an expression of fatherly love (from a man whom to this day, struggles to get on the Jazz bandwagon) but it still left me feeling hollow. No trinket could fill the hole dug by #23. Dad bought me a 1998 Western Conference Champions caricature t-shirt, adorned with the exaggerated mugs of the men who certain radio personas along the Wasatch Front would come to call "the Statues" as the years passed by.
I imagine Dad said something very consoling like "They'll get it next year" or "Getting to the finals twice in a row is pretty impressive", perhaps "What can you do? It's Michael Jordan".
I doubt he said those things. But for my purposes, he did. It makes the story better.
Heartbreak isn't a strong enough way to explain how Jazz fans experienced what the rest of the world calls "The Shot". Their "shot" is our "shove" and the man who is, by all metrics, the greatest who ever played the game, will be remembered by many of our ilk as a cheat. That moment is the original sin, the Delta Center our eden, and the subsequent era of Jazz basketball our exile.
I'm entirely comfortable being this hyperbolic. Losing to the Bulls twice in a row really sucked. It still sucks, and even when our first championship banner is lifted into the rafters at ESA, those two rings will forever remain the ones that got away. That will always sting, even if only a little.
Shortly thereafter I fell out of love with NBA basketball. The subsequent lockout, truncated season and rise of the Lakers and Spurs in the west left little to hope for in the fading era of Stockton and Malone. By the time John hung up the short shorts and Karl rode out to Hollywood I couldn't name half of our roster. I finished my freshman year of college a year later and didn't know the name of any Jazzman beside Andrei Kirilenko. If I had been told then, that Jerry Sloan were still the coach, I would have felt indifference. The Jazz had ceased to matter to me. I couldn't envision any scenario where I would come back around.
But, then again, I hadn't ever seen powder blue, monochromatic seas of fans, or the return of pick and roll perfection in the 801 (yes, I did just do that).
Accidentally discovering that my house mates and I in Tacoma had had cable all year long at the end of my second semester, senior year was a top status success. The channel my television landed on after autoprogramming was pure serendipity, perhaps an expression of fate, the will of the basketball god luring me back into the fold; the channel my television landed on after autoprogramming was TNT. It was May 13th, 2007 and the Golden State Warriors were playing a team adorned in powder blue in a raucous arena aglow with a sea of golden shirted fans.
I did a spit take when I got a closer look at those blue Jerseys. And with one "D-Will to Boozer", one pick, one roll, one layup, I relapsed. And hard. I relapsed all the way back to Salt Lake after graduating. I relapsed right into a living room with HDTV (my first exposure) and right back into Jazz fandom. Almost ten years older and by no means any wiser to the ways of the rock, I had relapsed right back into watching the Jazz get inches (well, maybe feet) away from the NBA Finals. It was inevitable of course, that I would also stumble, head first into the perennial disappointment of seeing a Jazz season end too soon.
Yet, for all that was newer and bluer, watching Jerry pace a trench in the hardwood was familiar and welcoming. I found that I again cared very much that Jerry was our head coach. It was still Jazz basketball, and hope sprung anew. I was once again a fan.
The next time I cried for the Jazz was February 10, 2011. I cried because Jerry cried and both sets of tears shocked me. Two weeks later as I tore down a row of cubicles shouting out the biggest trade in franchise history to my coworkers, I finally recognized how much the Jazz mean to me. How, while losing Deron was certainly a setback, I was finallly going to get to watch a new era of basketball from the outset. When the lottery balls landed our way and we scored the pick the would become Enes Kanter I was immediately 13 again, dancing around my room and shouting my astonished jubilation to no one in particular and every Jazz fan at once. On draft night with almost 10,000 of the people i identify with most surrounding me, I came to the realization that after family and friends, the Jazz are closest to my heart. They reside at the core of my closest friendships and strenghten the bond I have to many of my fellow Utahs with whom, culturally speaking, I share very little. And right now (or after the lockout) the Utah Jazz will venture forth into the unknown.
Which is why I'm taking a stab at this whole blogging thing.
I suck at Xs and Os. I don't understand how advanced stats reveal things an ordinary box score can't and I couldn't explain trade exemptions to save my life. I'm also not a journalist. Any attempt on my part to emulate beat writers would be an insult to beat writers, the English language and the whole history of print media alike.
What I do know is this: I like writing and being long winded and pontificating. As long as I have the will, and as long as there is at least one person who might want to read what I write, I will tell the story of a fanbase moving forward, always hoping for glory, always willing to cheer a little louder, never conceding an inch to our enemies and continuing to wait, with baited breath for the banner to rise at last. Yeah, its corny. But from this post forward I will once again be (wait for it...) searching for the statues.
Lets play the basketball.