The only thing that could make this any weirder is if Derek Fisher still played for the Los Angeles Lakers.
A sizable segment of Jazz fans actually would be cheering for him tonight.
The aura at EnergySolutions Arena promises to be rather bizarre, as the Jazz stage their final home game of the season. If they lose tonight and Wednesday at Minnesota, they’re assured of no better than the NBA’s fourth-worst record. Pending the outcome of the lottery — which is the part everyone tends to forget — they likely would have the No. 4 pick in the draft.
But a victory would potentially put them in a tie with the Lakers, resulting in a tiebreaking procedure prior to the lottery. As of Monday, Orlando (23-57), the Jazz (24-56), Boston (25-57) and the Lakers (25-57) are in play for the Nos. 3-6 spots.
So the Lakers will send out their starting lineup of Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall and Jodie Meeks in an effort to ruin everything for the Jazz.
The phenomenon of Jazz-Lakers games at ESA is how every basket is cheered. That’s because of the ubiquitous Lakers fans, usually. But tonight, there will be Jazz fans hoping that a loss will brighten the team’s future.
Having said that, I’ve observed all season that the folks who are actually in the building genuinely seem to want the Jazz to win. It’s difficult for me to believe they will go home happy if the Jazz lose to L.A. - especially this version of the Lakers, although there’s a theory that if Kobe Bryant is not playing, there’s less emotion involved. Kobe’s injured, and Fisher plays for Oklahoma City, seven years after leaving the Jazz and being booed upon return each time.
The Jazz, meanwhile, will match the franchise’s worst record of the Utah era if they lose the last two games. They finished 24-58 in 1979-80, their first season in town. They’ve risen above the all-time worst mark of 23-59, in the expansion team’s first season of 1974-75 in New Orleans.