What is it like to root for the little guy? Any Jazz fan can answer that question. We’ve always been a small market team, and we always will be.
If we play our cards right, and with a little help from the draft (a la Stockton/Malone), we might have extended years of success. We might even go as deep into the playoffs as you can without winning it all. It might even happen twice. But after the dust settles from the excitement, we’re still a small market team. And it’s always going to be an uphill battle.
But that’s all part of being a Jazz fan.
I’m a transplant to southern California, in the heart of Laker Land. But before that, I spent the overwhelming majority of my life back in Utah. As you might have guessed, there couldn’t be two more different types of fan bases.
If you were to ask Jazz fans about their biggest rival, my instinct tells me one team would continually surface: the Fakers. But anytime I’ve discussed this with Laker fans, they laugh at the notion of Utah being their rival.
“Doesn’t a rivalry need to go both ways?”
And maybe they have a point. Maybe we are the little kid sitting at the big kids table. But I’d rather be a little kid with imagination and hope than a big kid with no soul.
I’ve never met another group of fans that felt more entitled and spoiled than Laker fans. They entice the biggest-name prospects year after year. They are always within reasonable contention for a title. They spend an insane amount of money. And they are in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
But that’s just it. It’s easy to be a Lakers fan. And I can’t blame any of these NBA players for wanting to test the waters in sunny California. Hell, I did it.
Look at what happened in LA this year. They had all the hype in the world. Most sports writers were picking them to either win the west outright or challenge the Thunder. You should have seen these fans give up on their team. Or heard them wine and complain on the radio like the movie stars living among them. Especially since the ‘other’ LA team was finally competitive. And somehow the only thing that could get more airtime than this new Lakers ‘dynasty’ was the failing version of it. Suddenly the support was gone. The floor of the fan base fell out from under them. At least until the playoff push, and even then it was mediocre at best.
The point I’m trying to make is that being a Jazz fan requires heart. It isn’t convenient. Even my family back in Utah gave up on them. Most of the time, we might be cheering for the island of misfit toys, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because one day, WHEN we win that first championship, it’s going to be that much sweeter.