And, if it weren't for a few special people, I probably wouldn't even know a free-throw from a rebound.
First, Grampa Jiggs and Grama June, pioneer Jazz fans. They always had season tickets and in an effort to spend "quality time" with the grandkids, took us to the occasional game.
I had no interest in basketball, but loved the VIP treatment. Staying up past my bedtime, eating popcorn, and falling asleep to Hot Rod Hundley's voice on the ride home.
Somewhere along the line, I picked up the basic rules of the game. Names like Darrell Griffith, Adrian Dantley, and Thurl Bailey became familiar. I sang and cheered along with the live Jazz band that played in the Salt Palace.
But I didn't fall in love with the Jazz until a certain point guard from Gonzaga came along...
(He could deliver our letters anytime....)
Jazz games are some of my most vivid memories. One of the top ten happiest days of my entire life was sitting beside my husband watching the Jazz play against the Denver Nuggets in a play-off game. The place was full of celebrities and the excitement was tangibly electric. It was the closest I ever came to feeling illegally intoxicated.
In contrast, the last game I attended was just a few days after Grama June's funeral. I was Grampa's date to the Delta Center. Realizing Jiggs would never again sit beside his courtside sweetheart in this, their home away from home, made it tough to cheer through the tears.
I live across the country now. Stockton and Malone have long-since retired. The Delta Center has a new name and I don't even know any of the current players. But when I heard about last night's win, I got just a little flutter in the pit of my stomach.
And so, Wednesday night, I'll tune in to watch my Jazz.
And I really hope they win.
For Stockton, Malone, Horny Hornacek, Big T, Mark Eaton, AD, Frank Layden, Hot Rod, June and Jiggs.
And for a Utah girl, far from home, staying up past her bedtime, eating a big bowl of popcorn.