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Meet the journalist who wrote an encyclopedia of Jazz, Utah style

SALT LAKE CITY—Jody Genessy couldn’t quite believe his good fortune when he answered the phone and it was a Chicago publisher wondering if he’d be willing to write a book about the Utah Jazz.

Jody’s a journalist. He always figured he’d write a book. Some day. When he got around to it and found someone who would print what he wrote. Now here was a publisher calling him.

But then, his timing has always been good, particularly when it comes to professional basketball in the state of Utah.

He was born on the day the Utah Stars won the ABA championship on May 18, 1971.

He was 8 years old when the Jazz brought the NBA to Utah in 1979.

And he was 37 in 2009 when Deseret News sports editor Kent Condon asked him, “How’d you like to cover the Jazz?”

Jody Genessy
Jody Genessy
Lee Benson, Deseret News

Jody was on the Jazz beat for nine years. For a full-fledged product of the Jazz generation — he saw his first Jazz games in the old Salt Palace; he can show you where he kicked holes in the wall as a boy when the Jazz lost; he was at the airport at midnight to meet the team returning from Houston after Stockton hit The Shot — he was literally living his dream.

“I got paid to watch basketball, to eat and to travel,” he says. “For a guy who grew up loving sports and who loves to eat, I got paid to do both. That was pretty awesome.”

Not that it wasn’t work, though. On the Jazz beat there is always something going on. In season. Off season. Doesn’t matter. In the world of the never-ending 24/7 news cycle, it is an omnipresent weight.

“As I’m wont to do, I threw myself in totally and it took over my life,” says Jody.

So much so that after nine seasons, “four little kids kept calling me Dad and I figured I probably better learn their names and get to know them better,” he says, smiling and wincing at the same time.

His last season was 2016-17, the year the Jazz finally made the playoffs again and Gordon Hayward left for Boston.

That’s when the publisher called from Chicago.

As part of its “100 Things” series, Triumph Books wanted Jody to write “100 Things Jazz Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.”

The timing couldn’t have been better.

Jody Genessy's "!00 Things Jazz Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" is available at the King's English Bookshop and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Jody Genessy's "!00 Things Jazz Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" is available at the King's English Bookshop and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Lee Benson, Deseret News

“To me,” says Jody, “it was kinda the final chapter in covering the Jazz.”

He had no trouble coming up with his 100 things, or what to write about them. The publisher said 600 to 700 words per thing would be fine; Jody averaged 1,000 words.

He even overwrote the one chapter he planned on being just 13 words long. It’s the one called “Short Shorts” about John Stockton’s shorts.

Jody’s original entire chapter:

“In honor of John Stockton’s trunks, this chapter will be short. The End.”

Then he couldn’t help himself.

“OK, not that short,” he writes on the next page, and proceeds to not only go into detail about Stockton’s obduracy in wearing short shorts long after they went out of style, but also telling about Stockton Shorts, the Utah high school basketball star whose parents named him after You Know Who. (And who wears long shorts).

Jody’s list of 100 things runs the gamut from Stockton-to-Malone to Larry H. Miller to Hot Rod Hundley to Jerry Sloan to Mehmet Okur to Quin Snyder to Mark Eaton’s restaurants to Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert and all points and characters and big names in between. Donovan Mitchell’s jersey number, 45, is on the cover. The inimitable Frank Layden wrote the foreword. It’s an encyclopedia of Jazz, Utah style.

“I got to write about the team I grew up with,” says Jody. “And the team I covered.”

It was like reliving his childhood … and his adulthood.

“100 Things Jazz Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” is available at the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.