Thom vs. the Utah Jazz

My father-in-law is visiting us from Finland. He’s a fan of NBA basketball, among other things, so when we were planning what to do to entertain him we realized that we live but a short drive from where the Utah Jazz play. We did some checking and found some decent seats for a reasonable price, so we decided we’d take him to a Jazz game.

Wednesday night was the night. The Jazz were playing the Phoenix Suns at Energy Solutions Center (I still have a hard time not calling it the Delta Center) in a game that could decide which of the two teams goes to the playoffs. Our seats, while up near the rafters, were near center court, and not nearly as bad as I’d feared.

This was the first time I’d been to a professional sports event at that level. The energy was palpable, especially in the final minutes when the Jazz came from 10 points down to tie it. I have to admit I really got into it (though I managed not to lose my voice). And when the Suns went ahead by 2 with 1.7 seconds left I was on pins and needles as they took a time out to come up with a miracle play.

Let me backtrack a bit. When I’ve paid attention to the NBA I’ve been a Jazz fan. I started taking some interest back in the final glory days of Stockton-Malone when the Jazz kept fighting their way to the semi-finals and finals only to lose it. I decided it was my fault. They’d do fairly well through the regular season when I wasn’t paying attention, but the minute I started paying attention in the post-season they’d fall short. So I knew I was taking a chance last night in going to a game. I hoped that perhaps if I were watching live that would cancel the jinx.

When the play started the in-bounding player tossed it in to a man deep in the corner, who immediately launched it from 3-point range. Out of nowhere another Jazz player (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t keep track of who was who) came flying in, grabbed the ball, and pushed it into the basket. The crowd went wild, myself included. They’d tied the game.

What I didn’t realize was that they were not stopping to get ready for overtime. The officials had to review the instant replay. After some time the last basket disappeared off the scoreboard and both teams disappeared into their locker rooms. The game was over; the Suns won. The jinx reigns supreme.

I didn’t find out what had happened until we got home and looked it up. The referees determined that the time ran out before the player released the ball. I’ve seen Stockton make plays like that, but it didn’t work Wednesday night.

But other than the Jazz losing, we couldn’t have asked for a better game. It was a thrill-ride right to the end. Even the kids got into it and seemed to enjoy it. I had fun explaining to them what was going on. The live sports experience is pretty cool, and I promised my middle child we’ll do that again sometime.

I was also impressed with the Salt Lake City Police that their traffic control. Granted, we walk pretty slow with our short-legged six-year-old, but it didn’t take us that long to get back to our car. We didn’t really have to wait all that long. The police kept the people and traffic from interfering with one another and kept things moving along fairly smoothly. Kudos! I’ve been to much smaller events that got snarled up much, much worse.

To the Phoenix Suns, good game. The Jazz kept it exciting, but you played an excellent game, made a lot of impressive plays, and deserved your win. And your fans–at least the ones near us–kept it classy. Actually, everyone did, for which I’m grateful.

So sorry all you Jazz fans out there. I’m still a jinx. But I sure had a lot of fun. I’m pretty sure my father-in-law did, too. To the Utah Jazz: almost thou persuadest me to be a sports fan.

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