SALT LAKE CITY — For as much bad publicity as Utah Jazz fans have gotten lately, Saturday night was a reminder of why this community’s NBA loyalists have had a strong and mostly positive reputation.
These fans are loud — when they cheer, boo and chant silly things.
They back their players. They go after the opponents and refs, mostly in a good-natured way.
And, best of all, they definitely give the home team a morale boost.
Austin Rivers told me it was the loudest crowd he’d ever heard and it was impossible to communicate on the floor tonight because of it. So yes, Jazz fans are something else. https://t.co/SdC6ACa0nS— Michelle Margaux (@mmargaux8) April 21, 2019
Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni called the crowd "amazing."
Even Houston’s Gerald Green, who’s been in and out of the NBA since 2005, had good things to say about the 18,300-plus Jazz fans who cheered their hearts out before having those same hearts broken in the Rockets’ 104-101 win at Vivint Arena.
"It's crazy. It's nice here, man. This is one of the cool places to play in the NBA,” Green said. “These fans here are, well, they're not better than Houston fans, but they're loud. Houston fans, we got swag, though."
While they might not have had much swag — whatever that means in this case — here are some things Jazz fans did bring to Game 3, making you wonder what’s in store for a must-win Game 4:
— I wrote “fans with wigs” in my notes after seeing three guys with 1980s hairband-worthy wigs playing fake guitars and looking like they could’ve toured with Poison or AC/DC. Surprisingly, their hair paled in comparison to the woman, bless her heart, whose well-kept and very large beehive hairdo was featured on ESPN’s telecast and then went viral on the internet.
The Ringer tweeted her photo and called her “legend.” Another NBA fan tweeted out that she’s his spirit animal. And someone whose Twitter account leads you to presume they're from the Lone Star State wondered openly how this game wasn’t in Texas after seeing her old-fashioned but elegant ‘do.
Another Twitter account humorously took the video of Chris Paul winking at someone and made it appear that he was directing his affection toward her.
chris paul got caught flirting with a fan last night.. pic.twitter.com/P7ClwjQtDj— buckets \\: (@buckets) April 21, 2019
— It didn’t win the sign contest, but the sign with a picture of Brigham Young and the phrase “We invented beards” was easily the funniest.
— In conjunction with their snazzy gradient-colored City Edition jerseys, the Jazz gave out red, yellow and orange “Take Note” T-shirts for fans to wear. It was really a spectacularly colorful sight to behold to see the different sections with nearly all fans sporting those shirts.
Like last year when the arena was decked out in yellow shirts during the Jazz-Warriors series, some did find it interesting to have thousands of fans in red (not a team color) for a game against the red-and-white Rockets.
One fan tweeted to Jazz PR: “Maybe next HOME game don’t have a portion of the crowd wearing red. You know, Rockets colors. #Derp.” National writer Jimmy Spencer added, “The red crowd vs. the Rockets. It’s the fourth quarter and I’m still thinking about why this is a thing.”
— After a questionable call by a referee, Jazz fans inexplicably broke out into a loud “Refuse sucks!” chant. Maybe they’re environmentally conscious and were gearing up for Earth Day?
— The most bizarre fan scene happened about an hour before the game during warmups. A Jazz fan loudly heckled James Harden while the Rockets superstar did his pregame shooting routine. For a minute or so, the fan exuberantly shouted “FLOPPER!” and phrases along the lines of “You’re nothing but a flopper!” Though that seems like it might be a compliment to Harden, Jazz security apparently told him to watch what he said. So the fan changed his tune and loudly started cheering, hooting and hollering FOR The Bearded Wonder. Harden seemed to get a kick out of a Utah fan yelling “GO HARDEN!” and things like “They told me I can’t boo you so I’m cheering for you! WOOOO!”
This exuberant fan was apparently too loud for Jazz security’s liking. He was yelling “FLOPPER!!!” at James Harden but then changed his tie to mockingly cheer The Beard until security escorted him out of the arena. pic.twitter.com/lCRiMi6VUX— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) April 21, 2019
That lasted for about a minute. A security guard then escorted him out of the arena and gave him a behavior warning card. The fan reentered the arena with his index finger on his lips, motioning that he’d been shushed by security.
It kind of makes you wonder how many warning cards Jazz security handed out when thousands of fans bellowed out “FLOPPER!” when Harden shot free throws.
— Kudos to the fan wearing a full-body bunny suit who won the dance contest. Considering what some other people wore to the game, it might’ve just been a coincidence that his costume was holiday appropriate.
— The best moves of the night in the arena came from the guy who looked like a flopping fish out of water with wobbly waving arms. Oh, not James Harden. This was a fan behind the baseline making fun of Harden with some wild body motions.
— Fifteen minutes after the game ended, one fan was apparently hoping to get a message to Jazz management. “We want Jimmer! We want Jimmer! We want Jimmer!” He kept yelling it from the top row of the upper bowl over and over, occasionally receiving “No, we don’t!” rebuttals from other fans heading out the exits. Finally, his friend wrapped him up with both arms and dragged him toward the exit. If the Jazz pull off a trade with the Suns this offseason, the guy will know his voice was heard by more than a few dozen fans, the cleaning crew and one reporter.