On Tuesday night the Mavericks lost a game. Was I mad? Depressed? Screaming into a pillow? Blaming Step-Siblings I don’t have? Yeah, it was a Mavs loss of course I was.
But there was a part of me that wasn’t feeling these emotions. I was happy for the opponent, something I hardly ever feel. The Mavericks did lose, but it was the Utah Jazz they lost to. My second favorite team, the existence of such that angers many and causes mass daily Twitter unfollows.
After all, my capacity for sports love can’t be tamed by just one team per sport. I’ve adopted the Houston Astros (used to live in Houston; don’t worry still ****ing hate the Rockets), the Jacksonville Jaguars (started with Madden, loving MJD and believing in Blaine Gabbert, bear with me) and the Utah Jazz.
Gordon Hayward was my favorite college basketball player at Butler. Devin Harris is my favorite NBA player not named Nowitzki and fate brought these two together as teammates when Hayward entered the league in 2010. Thus my second NBA team –a search that had gone through Toronto, Golden State and Phoenix– had found its permanent home.
Since then I’ve watched the Jazz and Gordon Hayward grow from a fringe contender to a lottery team back into potential NBA contenders. Utah has built the right way, something I pray Mark Cuban adopts when Dirk Nowitzki decides to hang up those gigantic sneakers.
It’s an emotional process, adopting and caring for and seeing something grow. Wow, that was poignant. The Mavericks have and will always have my heart, that’s not a contest. But I have a sincere passion for the Utah Jazz, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum, Coach Quin Snyder, General Manager Dennis Lindsey, the extremely loyal Utah fan base and the entire organization.
A lot of things happened on Tuesday night in the Jazz win against the Mavs. It was Utah’s first win in Dallas since Hayward entered the league. The Jazz extended their winning streak to seven and came within a game of Dallas for 6th in the enigmatic Western Conference Playoff Picture.
But it was how it ended that made me proud, more than happy, as an emotional (person/)sports fan. After the Mavs somehow didn’t foul Trey Lyles at the end of regulation, Rodney Hood forced Overtime, setting the stage for Gordon Hayward’s game-winner.
It wasn’t even the first game-winning shot for Hayward, and certainly not the most exciting, high-profile one. Because LeBron James.
But it was in Dallas, a place where i’ve watched 99% of my NBA games and outside of the Ballpark in Arlington pretty much all my sporting events. I actually had tickets. I also had work. I’m not telling which one won. It was work. I hate my life.
But if I was there, in my section 119, I’m not sure I would have thrown my arms up in disgust or cracked a smile, because this was such an awesome moment for the growing collection of awesome moments in the expanding career of soon-to-be All-Star forward Gordon Hayward.
Earlier in the game, something really set me off. Mavericks color commentator and former NBA player Derek Harper is obviously bias to the team he calls. Most announcers are and Harp is usually well above the others in credibility. But…he utterly disrespected the man who would eventually hit that game winner.
When asked about who he prefers between Hayward and Mavericks respective starter Chandler Parsons –who are always compared because they’re the only two white players in NBA history and have a mean comb-over– he said “give me Parsons” and I’m not even kidding when I say I fell off the couch with major “BRUH” face.
It doesn’t even need justifying, but Parsons is finally having some good games this season, healthy or not, they are still not consistent efforts. Hayward has carried a Jazz team that struggled to stay relevant with a barrage of injuries.
Alec Burks broke his leg in December. Starting point guard Dante Exum is out for the season with a torn ACL. Starting power forward Derrick Favors has missed 17 games and center Rudy Gobert has missed 20.
Utah has solid depth, but a lot of it is still very young talent or career role players, yet here they are in the Playoff Picture at the All-Star Break, despite all the injuries to their starting core. Hayward is better than Parsons at ever facet of the game. And i’m a big Chandler Parsons fan.
It’s just another bullet point on a long list of nonbelievers in the NBA player who loves World of Warcraft.
Do I have a Gordon Hayward jersey? Is he my favorite player? Yes.
It’s still Mavs first, you herky jerky peeps. However, I’m not lying to you and saying I wasn’t damn satisfied when Gordon Hayward won the game Tuesday.