Opinion: After three decades of being a Utah Jazz fan, I can’t do it anymore

Another season down the drain with little to show for it but the endless promise of “development.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Jazz Bear messes around with a fan as the Utah Jazz host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

I am officially resigning my membership as a fan of the Utah Jazz.

Another season down the drain with little to show for it but the endless promise of “development.” No playoffs, no optimistic hope that, with just a few tweaks, next year could be our year, no reason for me to keep caring.

Despite decades of loyalty, I am considering which NBA team I should align myself with in the future. My brain tells me that I need a change but my heart is resistant.

I was in elementary school when the team went to the finals. I remember John Stockton coming to my fifth grade class and teaching us how to do wall sits to strengthen our legs. I was lucky enough to attend a game during that period, and I even kept a piece of confetti that fell from the ceiling long into adulthood.

I was a big fan of Andrei Kirilenko. When he first moved to Utah, my dad had the chance to meet him. He related to me how tall he was and how excited he was to be in Utah. Around that time, my Sunday School teacher won tickets to a game for shaving AK-47 into his hair. He kept the hairdo all weekend so he could show off to the diehard 13-year-old boys in our class.

Later in life, I enjoyed the Deron Williams era. I recall sitting at the ESPN restaurant in Downtown Disney watching the Jazz play San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals. That whole Disneyland trip, I wore my Jazz Jersey.

In 2010, I attended a thrilling playoff game between the Jazz and Nuggets. I can still remember that being the loudest environment I have ever experienced. My high-school-sweetheart-turned-wife and I didn’t have much, but attending this game this was money well-spent.

We met Paul Milsap at a Jazz event a year or two later. We love to reminisce about how large his hand was when we shook it. We also like to laugh about how he looked so disinterested to meet 1,000 fans that day.

In the mid 2010s, we met Gordon Hayward at Scheels and he was kind enough to take a photo with my wife. A few years later, he ripped our hearts out to the point that my wife wanted to put a banner on the side of our prominent building on I-15 that read “Gordon’t Betrayward”.

In 2019, my daughter played Junior Jazz. As an overzealous father, I signed her up for a Junior Jazz camp at The Delta Center with some of the Jazz coaches. I sat on the front row of the arena and watched as my daughter was the only girl at the whole camp. She was not the most skilled player by a long shot and cried when she couldn’t do some of the advanced skills. Some of the Jazz development coaches spent extra time with her. At the end of the day she got to meet Bear and have a tour of the locker room. A rough experience turned sweet by some exceptional coaches.

Recently, I gathered with 10 other couples to rent out a suite to watch a game. It is a great way to connect with friends and it allows those who are interested in the game to watch intently while those less interested can snack and socialize. This has become a yearly event many of us really enjoy.

Now, I would have a hard time picking our players out of a crowd. By next year, most of them will be on other teams or out of the NBA completely while we get a whole new crop of forgettable players. It is hard to build a relationship with your team when you are not even certain who is on the roster.

I’ve considered pledging my allegiance to The Spurs. But honestly, after thinking about these memories — bittersweet as they might be — I don’t want to be a Spurs fan. They’re successful, but they aren’t ingrained in my life like The Jazz are. I want to be a Jazz fan.

My plea to the Utah Jazz, Ryan and Ashley Smith, Danny Ainge, Justin Zanik, Coach Hardy and Jazz Bear is this: Please get better. Of course we want a championship — but there is so much more than that. We want meaningful games in the playoffs. We want a roster that is filled with personalities — not “assets” to be traded on a whim or forgettable borderline NBA players. We want hope.

(Photo courtesy of Bryan Griffith) Bryan Griffith

Bryan Griffith is a father of three who has encyclopedic knowledge of Disney princesses and all things “Bluey.” He once danced with a baby humpback whale. A spider monkey once stole his sandwich. He is part-owner of well-known Salt Lake City business “Queen of Wraps.”

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