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The Five Justins

I got a nice purple hat.

That’s about all I can say regarding Utah’s 121–88 loss to Indiana. It was a drubbing. They beat us like rented mules. Skinned us alive. Took our virgins, burnt down our city and left without a scratch.

I blame Justin.

We don’t know his last name or where he’s from, but some plucky middle-aged man was selected from the crowd to win a gift certificate or something. Unshaven with salt-and-pepper hair, all Justin had to do was drain a free throw, a 3-pointer and a golf putt (don’t ask me why). Justin couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a canoe.

The rim height is 10-foot. The same height at the Delta Center or Justin’s church. The free throw line is the same at 15 feet.  Might as well have been a country mile. If you’re going to miss make sure you hit something. Air balls is one of basketball’s greatest sin. Justin’s T-Rex arms limply lobbed the ball and didn’t find any pay dirt. The crowd rallied him on but Justin was stoned deaf. He went 0-for-God-knows-how-many-times-he-threw-the-ball.

The Jazz looked like 5 Justins.

In all honesty, losses don’t bother me. Getting thumped does. Back-to-backs are hard but so is getting NBA tickets. Not having Donovan Mitchell makes it challenging but so is justifying $10.25 Miller Lite drafts. Playing defense is tough but do your damn job. There’s a lot of people here looking for some effort. 9–12 on the season isn’t horrific but passionless play with sloppy passing and lackluster effort is unbearable.

The only bright spot of the night was spending time with my buddy, Daniel. He’s an old college friend who works in energy. Daniel is one of the good guys out there, trying to help communities put together large-scale solar panel farms. He’s urbane, inquisitive and very generous. He once bought me a breakfast appetizer or breakfast dessert. It was red velvet French toast. It’s exactly what you think it is except it taste like Heaven if Heaven was a 1,200 calorie per bite snack.

We sat in the top row of the lower bowl. Good seats. Honestly, they were really good seats. We had an unobstructed view of the court and were at the perfect eye-level for the huge TV screen. We drank ridiculously overpriced draft beers and cracked wise about Utah’s performance.

Professional basketball games are about as good of a live event out there. And Jazz games are special. There’s something about our fans. They’re good fans. They seem to know when to cheer (heard sporadically last night), when to boo (we did a lot) and when to stand up and roar (don’t recall doing that at all—although O’Neal did have a decent dunk). Are fans come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re found mostly in XXL. I blame J Dawgs and Dipping Dots. There’s lots of very beautiful women at the arena and I like seeing kids in the #45 jerseys.

Outside of spending time with Daniel, I wanted to get a closer look at Jae Crowder. I think he’s a beast. I like his hardnosed play, grit and haircut. He’s Utah’s honey badger and the last person I’d want to piss off. America would be a better place with more Crowder. I’ve seen him lay the smackdown on other teams, but last night wasn’t his best effort. He finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

I was going to buy his jersey last night but #99 wasn’t well represented at the team store. They had an XL (like who could ever fit in a XL jersey) home jersey. I was hoping to get my hands on one of the purple jerseys but no luck. So, I settled on a new purple hat. It’s a nice hat, fitted with yellow piping. It looks good on my massive noggin and tells the world that I like taking risks with my head fashion.

Speaking of risks, let’s risk everything with this Utah Jazz team. Our next three games are on the road against the Nets, Hornets and Heat. Let’s win all three. I know that’s a novel thought but since we’ll all be there, why not get the W? Better passing, more hustle and respect the fans. Play like you got something on the line. If you need inspiration, think of me. A beer drunk, middle-aged man with too much disposable income who would really like to see the Jazz making a playoff push.

Can you do that for me?

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

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