My trip to the Energy Solutions Arena for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert the week after Christmas was the first time I've ever been inside the arena.
By the way, great show!
It’s a nice arena, but there’s something missing; something every die-hard NBA fan deserves to feel a part of: an NBA championship banner.
Oh, I know all about the 1996-97 and 1997-98 Jazz teams that made it to the NBA Finals only to be denied by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. And I know all about how, when things are going well, the fans rally behind the team.
It’s that tenacity and commitment that Jazz fans show that makes them the most deserving of a championship banner.
Look, I grew up in southern California and felt very much a part of each of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 10 championships during the 1980s and 2000s. Let me tell you, it’s a fun thing to cheer for an NBA champion. It’s something I wish on every NBA fan—except the Boston Celtics' fans.
I still root for the Lakers, even though I’m not a Kobe Bryant fan.
When you root for a team, you root for its tradition, its history. You don’t have to like all of the cogs in a wheel to love what the wheel does for you, right?
It’s kinda like Star Trek: The Next Generation. Commander Riker, Lieutenant Worf and Counselor Troi weren’t nearly as likeable as Captain Picard and Data were, but as a whole, the show worked and became a classic.
What I’m trying to say is that Utah Jazz fans deserve to experience the thrill of an NBA championship, but it doesn’t seem the team is headed in that direction.
Small-market teams, according to David Stern, deserve to be on equal footing with the league’s big-market teams, but it seems that’s more lip service than anything.
So, what’s it going to take for the Jazz to become one of the NBA’s elite again?
New ownership, for one.
Nothing against the Miller family. They seem like decent folks, but what’s needed is a shrewd sports-savvy ownership that can get the job done by bringing marquee talent to the Beehive State. Someone like Mark Cuban.
Let’s face it, Utah is a tough sell when fishing the free agent market. But, with the right amount of numbers behind the dollar sign, it’s a doable task.
I don’t claim to know all the nuances and specifics of wheeling and dealing in the NBA, but what I do know is that if small-market teams like San Antonio and Oklahoma City can lure enough talent to become formidable forces in the NBA, so can the Jazz.
You’ve got the fan support and infrastructure needed to build an NBA champion, but the fans will eventually lose interest if you are unable to provide them with a payoff for years of dedication.
Did I mention the hot dogs at ESA aren’t half bad?