Originally published in the Deseret News.
My husband and I were listening to a sports radio station Sunday night shortly after the Utah Jazz soundly defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the NBA playoffs. We were laughing out loud because of the crazy enthusiasm expressed by a fan who had called the station. It made us smile knowing that we were not alone in our passion for the Utah Jazz.
Utah is Jazz Country. We love our team. They give to us; we give to them. It’s like a really good marriage. We love being together and we work through the good times and the hard times. Now is a good time.
It all starts with the Miller family. Shortly after putting ownership of the Utah Jazz into a community trust, Gail Miller told me the decision was a unanimous choice of her children. She said she didn’t have to coax them at all. That, my friends, is the generous spirit of the Miller family.
I made a list of the reasons I love the Jazz that goes beyond our wonderful players. Here’s a short summary:
The Jazz connects my family together. On a recent game night, my daughter and I were in North Carolina, my husband was in Massachusetts and my son was in Salt Lake City. We all watched the Jazz and sent text messages back and forth sharing our thoughts about the players, referees, fans and even the halftime entertainment. No matter where my family is, we are connected through the Jazz.
The Jazz sets a high bar of professionalism. It starts with the front office, where Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey sets the tone. I don’t know Mr. Lindsey, but I’ve listened to his interviews and seen him interact with the business community. Sure, he knows professional basketball, but, even more, he knows life. I’m intuitively drawn to his leadership style.
Then there’s head coach Quin Snyder. This guy should be NBA Coach of the Year. And, it’s not just his winning record. I love his sideline demeanor – calm under pressure, always teaching, completely focused. I’ve never seen a coach with so much class. When the Jazz re-sign NBA All-Star Gordon Hayward this summer, which I believe they will, Coach Quin will be a huge part of this success.
The Jazz satisfies my need to be entertained and accomplish something at the same time. I have a penchant for multitasking. The Jazz fit right into this personality trait. While I watch the Jazz, I fold laundry, clean the kitchen, pay bills or cook a good meal. For those of you who are type-A like me, it’s double satisfaction — you are entertained, while making a cleaner, more organized home.
The Jazz contributes to our dynamic urban center. I’m a native Salt Laker, and I love it when my hometown comes alive. I keep hearing people talk about the “vibe” at the “viv,” referring to Vivint Arena. I like it, and I know Larry Miller would like it too.
Larry once told me about the satisfaction he felt right before Jazz games. He said he would look out the eastward-facing windows on the upper floors of the arena as the crowd began to thicken before a game. First, there would be only a few folks and gradually it would multiply. Before long the streets would be teeming with life. Vivint Arena is vital to our downtown’s success.
There are few moments when the hearts of Utahns beat as one. It happened during opening ceremony during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. It happened when the Utah Jazz went to the NBA Finals two years in a row. On Sunday night, when we beat the Los Angeles Clippers on their floor on national TV, I felt it again.
Beating Golden State in the second round would be a remarkable accomplishment, but it’s secondary to me now. I’m just happy we have a great NBA franchise in Utah. This is Jazz Country and we love it!