Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Are Utah Jazz...?

It's doesn't fit right. When you think of Jazz music, you think of Chicago, New York, LA, and most especially New Orleans, not Rocky Mountains and snow. So why is Utah so adamant about keeping the name Utah Jazz? Don't they realize how stupid it sounds on the outside? Outside of Mormons and the "Greatest Snow on Earth," or possibly polygamy, nothing is more recognizable about our state than the Jazz, and for a former sleepy mountain community that has now grown into a recognizable metropolis, holding on to what has helped us become amazing is important.

I can argue that we have plenty of Jazz influences here, from the Arts Festival to the Park City Jazz fest, but rather than spend my time trying to prove that Jazz is just as legal as fry sauce in Utah, I'd rather explain what Utah Jazz really is, because it has to do with something other than music here. The Jazz are about who and what the state of Utah has to offer. When Dan Roberts yells at a frenzied crowd, How Bout This Jazz, he's not only referring to the team, but to the epic atmosphere of the Delta Center/ ESA, perennially ranked as one of the hardest and loudest places to play in the league; where two of the most intense, highest rated NBA Finals took place. He's referring to a fan base that has been treated to immense amounts of success from a small market that probably should have lost the team years ago. He's referencing Larry Miller's passion, Karl Malone's amazing work ethic, John Stockton's heart and hustle, which in my opinion, is still second to none, and the embodiment of consistency and taking things one day at a time and giving your best effort in everything, the one and only Jerry Sloan. This Jazz, right here in Utah, is a song that we don't sing, but a lifestyle and a community that so many of us live for, because we need some Jazz in our lives. People often talk about the blue collar nature of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and how the franchise reflects the toughness of city, but things are almost a reverse in Utah. The state has embraced the legacy the Jazz have left over the years by being hard-working, flying under the radar, and developing a consistency of winning that has become expectation. I believe that sports franchises are important not for the games they win as much as the type of communities and relations that they build. I've hugged perfect strangers, built legitimate friendships, and developed a love for writing because of This Jazz. So when Tom Benson comes asking for a name, the answer we all need to give has nothing to do with a name, because we can't give it back. Our Utah Jazz is a sound, a music, a passion completely different than anything a New Orleans franchise could ever have, and though no one outside of this community and it's "Nation" spread across the country can understand, we would not be giving up a name if we were to let them have it. We would be giving up a piece of  who we have become, and who I continue to believe I am. The phrase is hokey, but it really is true. Here in the rockies, We Are, Utah Jazz.