Jazz fans: Do you remember how you felt during game 2 against the Golden State Warriors last year? The game was tight, D-Will was out with foul trouble, Derek Fisher was flying home from New York and Dee Brown was wheeled out of the game on a stretcher.
Andre Kirilenko was our point guard. Need I say more?
The game was tight- too tight. The Warriors were the hottest team in the league, and at times it appeared that the Jazz simply weren't equipped to win this game. I mean, we had no point guard for heaven sakes! Things were turning bitter real quick.
And then at the point of our direst need, a deafening roar erupted in the then newly named Energy Solutions Arena: A hero appeared in the tunnel. The cameras found a lone Derek Fisher walking into the arena looking like Wyatt Earp walking into the O.K. Corral. He came straight from the airport with a police escort, and he was still tucking in his jersey as he walked toward the Jazz bench.
The crowd was explosive. Men were crying like babies, women were on their knees, Larry Miller stood with his eyes wide, and his mouth full of Polish sausage. Personally, my nose was pressed up against the television screen and I was no longer a human being; I was one giant goosebump.
Here is the whole thing on YouTube so you can experience it for yourself:
It all went down like a classic WCW pay-per-view. You know, the good ones with Goldberg and the original NWO.
Fisher entered the game and at that moment everyone in the universe knew the Jazz would win. He made a pivotal defensive stop, and hit a three pointer that not only blew the roof off the ESA, but turned out to be the game-winner. At that moment, everyone in Utah - and the world - loved Derek Fisher. We loved him for what he did in the game, true, but mostly we loved him for who he is, what his family was going through, and how much care he has for his daughter. It was a good story.
Now things are a little different. See, in the offseason Derek Fisher asked out of his contract with the Jazz so he could be closer to a specialist to take better care of his daughter, who has a rare form of eye cancer. He was granted permission to leave with the owner's - and the fans' - blessing. We all naturally assumed he'd be heading east to be closer to New York City. That's where his daughter had been receiving care.
But we Jazz fans were shocked and disgusted when Fisher immediately signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only do we all hate the Lakers like poison, but we saw this situation as Derek Fisher using his daughter to get out of Salt Lake. It's no wonder that when Fisher returned to SLC early on this season he was booed like a Vaudeville puppet act gone awry.
Rightly so, in my opinion. I myself felt betrayed by Fisher, who was not shy about his disdain for living and playing in Utah when he was signed originally.
But now I may be having a change of heart. Derek Fisher is a good person who has a good family. He's a very religious man, and he's a devoted and loving father (at least from what I can tell). It's hard to hate a guy like that. In fact, anyone who hates a guy like that may want to re-evaluate his or her life and values.
Did Fisher play his best as a member of the Jazz? Certainly not.
Was he an irreplaceable component to our team? One thousand times no.
Did he leave under shady circumstances? Yes he did.
But I officially don't hate the guy any more. He's a good person, and that's all I care about now.
Plus I'll be honest, he really never found his niche while he was with the Jazz. Frankly, we're better without him.
So Derek, I am officially making my peace with you. You're a good man, and I no longer wish you ill. May you enjoy the twilight years of your NBA career, and may you find success in all your endeavors, save the 2008 Western Conference Semifinals. In the words of Father Abraham, "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren." (Genesis 13:8)
ABOUT GAME 2:
We need to win game 2. This is probably the most crucial game for the Jazz, and I'm going to make a bold prediction: If we win this game, we'll win the series. If we lose this game, we'll lose the series.
That's not to say if we lose I'll stop caring. I mean, it doesn't happen often, but I've been wrong before.
Anyway, we need to win tonight to take home court advantage away from the Lakers. Our only chance to beat LA is to beat them on our home floor.
And Boozer: Show up tonight.
It appears I've been the victim of a cruel hoax. Someone, somewhere told me the game was tonight (Tuesday night). Imagine my embarrassment when my wife correctly pointed out to me that the game is tomorrow night. Fortunately all my analysis can be salvaged- just know that it belongs to Wednesday's game, and not the phantom game I thought would take place on Tuesday.
Game 2 might as well be on a different day, though, with me living on the East Coast. I think if the game starts at 7:30 Pacific Time I'll be able to catch it here around 1 a.m. next Saturday.