Monday, May 12, 2008

Go Jazz!

Aside from my kids' little leagues and BYU football, there is only one team I have ever really loved.

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...
Oh, Johnny boy!
It broke my heart when I learned he wasn't a Mormon and that (sob) he was already married!
Still, the Jazz games became a little more personal for me whenever #12 was on the court.
Once, my little sister, Heidi, and I actually got to sit in Grampa's coveted courtside seats, right under the basket. (The Jazz must have been playing some loser team that night.) We had our pom-poms and our popcorn and were just sitting wide-eyed watching the pre-game warmups, when one of the players dropped the ball. It landed at Heidi's feet, so she picked it up and tossed it back to the player. He winked, smiled and bounced it back to her! The two of them played catch for a few minutes, then he waved and went over to the coach.
Imagine our surprise when we learned that this was no ordinary player. It was...

Karl THE MAILMAN Malone!

(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.

27 comments:

Bridget said...

Oh, you brought back great memories! I was a HUGE Jazz fan back in the day when we lived in Utah. I would even change my work schedule so I didn't have to miss games. I was obsessed.

Polly said...

I love your memories..we all share them with you

Lindsey said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh the good 'ol Jazz days. I miss those days.

Annemarie said...

Hate to say it, but I live in Utah & am actually a Lakers fan...uh oh. I really am just a So Cal girl far from home. Put a little x-tra butter on that popcorn...it might help console you while you watch the Jazz lose. Did I just say that??? sorry

Ashlee said...

My hubby is a HUGE Jazz fan. He was drooling as he watched the Jazz play yesterday. :0)

Christie said...

I fell in love with your brother at games in those coveted courtside seats. The Jazz will always be something special to us because of Grandpa Jiggs.

andrea said...

i think i probably shouldn't comment on this one. my husband is a huge lakers fan.
but i will anyway.

i hate the jazz. mostly because i find it weird how utahns tend to view them as the "other" twelve. and mostly because i just don't take utah seriously. i know, i'm insensitive. but lest i turn this into another controversial post, vis a vis your polygamy one, i'll just sit back and cheer for my beloved celtics, and give you the liberty to worship how, where, or what you may.

Ilene said...

Um, I am a Lakers fan. Totally bummed about that lame overtime last night...

BUT I did cheer for the Jazz once when my friend had an extra ticket to a game... I had to solemnly promise to do so before she would let me come.

Can we still be friends?

i'm kelly said...

you gotta love the jazz. i think grandpa would be rolling in his grave if i said otherwise. (although, i do occasionally cheer for the lakers too.)

lusciouschaos said...

Reading your post made me feel so nostalgic. I share the Stockton to Malone memories. I can still remember the Jazz/Bulls playoff when we were so share we had a shot when Michael Jordan played with the stomach flu. I was so upset, I had to walk it off. I don't follow sports but there was something really inspiring about the team then.

Amy Jorgensen said...

I can't drive down I-15 past the draper car dealership called "Stockton to Malone" without hearing Hot Rod's voice yelling "IT'S STOCKTON TO MALOOONE". Having said that, I'm not nearly as passionate as my litte brother. He's a lakers fan, and he let's the lawn grow long each playoff season, and then MOWS "Go Lakers" into the lawn in letters about 10 feet tall. Now that's a fan.

Amanda said...

I have always been a big Jazz fan. I love the Jazz and we have been watching the play-offs.

I must say that all my 27 years in Utah and I have never heard to the Jazz referred to as the "other twelve." Especially since there are 14 players on the team.

I have similar memories to yours. My dad and I sat on the front row, under the basket for a play-off game years ago, and it is one of my favorite memories. Thanks for reminding me, and Go Jazz!

Jenibelle said...

You know, I don't get basketball! I can never figure out what a foul is, the squeaking of the shoes on the court drives me nuts and I can't stand the smell. I am un-American.
Oh wait!! I LOVE BASEBALL! That boring game with the fresh smell of mown grass, hot dogs and garlic fries, the crack of the bat, steriod use, ahhhhh.

(I think living in the Bay Area I am supposed to root for the Golden State Warriors,did they make the playoffs?)

TravelinOma said...

A couple of Jazz players live in my building and I always act interested when we're in the elevator together. But I'm stuck in the olden days with Mark Eaton and Thurl Bailey...John Stockton was the best!

Jessica said...

Since my husband could not care less, thanks for the sports update. I am a girl who loves the teams wherever I am...thus the Jazz AND Gonzaga (20 minutes away) have a special place in my heart, too.

Tina said...

I love the way you remember all of that. We must not be too far apart in age because I remember LOVING Adrian Dantley and Big T. I remember I had a Thur Bailey poster hanging on my bedroom wall. He was wearing a ton of necklace chains standing beside an army helicopter.
Good memories.

Tina said...

Sorry one more post....the "other" twelve? Never heard of it and I have been a Jazz fan my entire life and lived in Utah my entire life. Why post anything at all?

martha corinna said...

I have a love/hate relationship with the Jazz. I do like them when it is convenient, like when I was single and was dating and needed some excitement, but now they are a thorn in my side because my husband loves them and they take up precious time. But they are the only sports team he likes so I cannot begrudge him this one indulgence. Plus, I have to admit, I still do route for them even though they are my nemesis when game night rolls around.

martha corinna said...

Not route, root. Oh well.

Dancin Queen said...

Stockton to Malone, baby!

Lauren said...

You made me a little teary reading this...the way you talked in the end about Grampa Jiggs not sitting by Grama June.

I love the way you write :)

Loved the, "he could deliver our mail anytime" ;) Yeah, he could :D

mama jo said...

those were the days...some of my favorite...going to the game with mom and dad was so much fun...i'm with you...utan jazz all the way!!!

calibosmom said...

Sorry, I'm a Celtics fan but I still love the Jazz too!

Hollyween said...

I'm totally behind on this, but

GO JAZZ!!!!!
I'm a huge Jazz fan and I had the hots for John Stockton too. I still want to name my next baby Stockton if it's a boy. John, not so much. I was so sad that they lost tonight. I can't stand the stupid lakers!!!

Hollyween said...

That's it. You've inspired me. I"m doing a post.

Heidiram said...

You are an incredible writer.

Kenny and Linsey said...

My husband walked by while I was reading this post and saw the Jazz logo. He has officially decided that reading blogs is a valuable use of this family's time! Thanks!

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