Gordon Hayward is no longer with the Utah Jazz. And that hurts.
That moment your stomach drops and all you want to do is not care anymore. You see people walking around as if nothing is wrong and you just wish you were one of those people. To not care about something that hurts you so much would be such a blessing. But it would also rob you of something that provides so much joy. You can’t have it both ways.
Sports love isn’t like real love. We aren’t talking about an actual divorce. We are talking about that puppy love you had in high school. It doesn’t really matter, but it feels like it does. Sports love isn’t rational, and its hard to explain why we care so much. But that same love is the reason sports make us feel things.
Utah Jazz fans are a little unique. When national talking heads discuss some of the more annoying fan bases, more often than not Jazz fans get mentioned. Personally, I don’t take offense. We don’t have other options. There isn’t MLB, NFL, or NHL waiting around the corner to distract us after the season. We just have the Jazz, and forgive us if we are a little over the top.
Gordon Hayward came to the Jazz when everything was starting to fall into pieces. Deron Williams, to put it lightly, wasn’t a fan of his. Deron forces out Jerry Sloan, Williams gets traded, and the team is handed to Ty Corbin. Things didn’t get better for a while.
Both parties didn’t know it at the time, but Utah needed Gordon and Gordon needed the Jazz. Utah needed direction, and he needed development. Things changed with Dennis Lindsey. He changed the culture around the team specifically when it came to player development and made Gordon the feature piece. He picked the perfect coach in Quin Snyder and set the plan in motion.
Not every player gets rooted into your fanbase, but Gordon was one who is easy to love. He started out too skinny, with bad hair, but ready to work. Rather than buying a sports car, or really enjoying his newly found wealth, he bought a Honda Accord. He related well to the fans, never got too full of himself, and slowly turned himself into one of the best players in the game. He is a terrific person, doting dad, loving husband and just a great ambassador for the game.
Even his game is measured, well rounded, and based in fundamentals. He was simply exactly what the Utah Jazz and their fans thought of themselves. We saw ourselves in him and loved him for it.
But you’ve seen this movie before. We were together for years, it wasn’t always amazing, but things were really starting to work out. He starts filling out, gets a new style, starts getting recognition, and starts wanting more. Suddenly he’s outgrown us and is looking for a prettier girlfriend.
Except in the movies, they always get back together and realize that everything they wanted they had all along. Call us suckers for buying that and and thinking we were gonna make it.
The breakups that hurt the most is when the phrase “you did nothing wrong” gets used. There is just someone else. There isn’t anything else you could have done. Grass is always greener on the Celtics side of the fence.
Ouch. And here we were thinking he already was.
Look, we know exactly where we stand in the hierarchy of the NBA. As a fan base our biggest failure is broadcast nationally in Gatorade commercials and every time ESPN mentions Michael Jordan’s name. People rejoice in our despair because that’s how sports work. Someone wins, and someone loses.
We get the joke, we are just tired of being the joke. And just as we are starting to come to grips with the fact he left us, he came back with the “we can still be friends? It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, etc. etc.” The only thing worse than getting dumped, is getting dumped twice.
But you want to know what really got me?
As a 12 year old die hard Jazz fan, I had just watched Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls ruin the best shot we had at a title. I didn’t know that at the time, and just knew we would be back. My parents got me this poster, and I had it framed on my wall for another five years until Stockton retired.
Unfinished Business triggered an emotion I didn’t expect.
There will be positive posts about the future, the Jazz are in good hands.