SALT LAKE CITY — Being a sports fan is not easy.
It takes a large emotional investment to cheer on a team through the rough patches in hope that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. But for all the handwringing and worry that comes with fandom, there is also joy, camaraderie and often unforgettably hilarious moments.
Who among us hasn’t embarrassed ourselves in front of a professional athlete, a significant other, our friends or families while in the throes of fandom?
Those moments stick with us, and they are fruit ripe with seeds that make us laugh any time we think back on them. With that in mind, I figured since everyone could use a little bit of levity and laughter these days, we could share our funniest fandom moments in this week’s mailbag.
Utah Jazz fans, this week I want to laugh! We could all use a laugh. Tell me your funniest/embarrassing fan moments. Did you fall as you were meeting your Jazz idol? accidentally hit someone in the face while cheering? lose a bet and pay hilariously? Tell me! #SundayJazzMailbag— Sarah Todd (@NBASarah) May 1, 2020
This first story, sent in by Marty, was one of my absolute favorites. What should have been a special moment between father and son getting a nice wave and head nod from Donovan Mitchell turned into an incredibly awkward moment.
While starstruck and trying to mumble out a thank you to Mitchell, Marty grabbed another boy as they were being ushered out of the area and the other boy’s father looked on in bewilderment.
Took my 11-year-old son courtside during warmups, & @spidadmitchell gave us a hip wave! The usher was trying to clear the area, so I reached out to pivot my son around while mumbling thanks to Don. When I turned, I found out I grabbed the wrong boy. His father eyed me strangely!— Marty Reeder (@martyreeder) May 1, 2020
Marty was trying to be cool and casual and instead nearly kidnapped another child (I know it’s not that serious, but it’s funny).
When I traded messages with Marty on Twitter about the incident, he couldn’t help but have a sense of humor about the situation.
“For what it’s worth, the other kid has been a valuable addition to our family,” he said.
Our next set of stories comes from @zvck_c on Twitter, and I think the moral of the story is that nobody is safe at the arena when their family is around.
My wife took me to see Kobe’s last game in Utah. We were sitting next to some higher ups in the Jazz front office, and my wife spilled her 42oz Sprite all over their feet. ‘Twas sticky and embarrassing.— zvckc (@zvck_c) May 1, 2020
Not only has svck_c’s wife spilled a huge amount of soda on Utah Jazz executives while at a game, but the couple took their 18-month old daughter to a game in January and she promptly threw her shoe and hit someone in the head in the lower bowl at Vivint Arena.
Also, my wife took me and my 18 month to the Blazers/Jazz game in January. We were sitting front row of the upper bowl, and my child decided to launch her shoe to the lower bowl. Hit some dude in the head in like the 14th row. She’s got a cannon.— zvckc (@zvck_c) May 1, 2020
So keep your head on a swivel Jazz fans, you never know what could happen.
Being starstruck causes people to do some strange things, but the most common side effect is the brain going completely blank.
Saw @dfavors14 at Lagoon and the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth, I said “are you..... Derrick favors?” It was like a 15 second pause. I was shaking because I was so excited. I couldn’t form sentences. I was so embarrassed.— Michele rivera (@ballermichele) May 2, 2020
Michele ran into Derrick Favors and after losing the ability to speak and then finding her voice she said “are you” followed by another bout of speechlessness. Finally she got out the words “Derrick Favors,” but of course as a diehard Jazz fan, she already knew the answer. We’ve all been there Michele, at least we can be happy that we didn’t forget how to use words permanently.
What do you do when, as a youngster, a super-sized human holds a door open for you? Limbo of course.
I was walking into a Burger King in the mid 90s, and a taller guy, didn’t look at his face, was leaving and held the door open for me with his long arm. So I did the limbo under it to get in. Parents run in saying if I saw Jeff Hornacek. I said no. He was the guy at the door.— Drew Shaw (@drew_shaw824) May 1, 2020
After doing just that as he walked into a Burger King in the ‘90s, Drew’s parents came running in to see if their son had seen Jeff Hornacek. Nope. Sorry mom, I was too busy showing off my limbo skills.
You ever have an idea that you thought was funny, but the joke just didn’t land?
In 2015, my season ticket buddy (@daveiba) & I would often wave to players when they drove away after a win. Gobert stopped to sign for a kid, and I asked Rudy if he’d swat away my tossed bandana. He shook his head disapprovingly as the untouched bandana wafted to the ground.— Jack Waters (@h2oetry) May 1, 2020
In Jack’s case the joke didn’t land but his lonely bandana did. After asking Rudy Gobert if he would swat the bandana, Gobert shook his head and let the bandana fall.
Fandom can often lead us to misplace our anger, and that can backfire. Kathy wrote in to tell her story of watching the Jazz play the Celtics. As the night went on and she became increasingly incensed at the Boston “bandwagon fans” at the arena she decided to speak up as she and her husband were leaving the arena.
“Do you have my back,” she asked her husband.
He looked confused but said he did. Then, outside the arena there was a guy celebrating the Celtics victory and Kathy yelled, “You’ve probably never even been to Boston!”
“I was born there,” he replied.
“I thought ‘Oops! I called out the wrong guy,’” Kathy said. “My husband shook his head and said, ‘Kathy, just get to the car.”
We’ll have your back, Kathy, but only if you’re right.
Finally, I thought I’d share one of my own funny and embarrassing memories.
I’m such a huge fan of basketball that I made a career out of watching it (I miss it so much). It was 2012 and I was covering the Golden State Warriors. It was probably the third NBA game I had ever covered and I was constantly nervous.
I was heading up the arena steps to the press box at the top of the lower level of Oracle Arena, soft drink in one hand, laptop bag in the other. One step shy of making it to the top, I missed the step, fell forward, spilled the soda all down the front of my shirt and blazer and seriously hurt my leg.
I looked up to see NBA legend Al Attles to my left, and an entire row of Bay Area columnists and reporter that I had idolized for years on my right. Everyone got up and raced over to see if I was OK and I brushed them off and chuckled acting like it was no big deal and pretended that nothing hurt throughout the game and the rest of the night.
The next day I had to go to the hospital because I’d sprained my knee so badly that it had doubled in size.
Turns out that it was the first of many times I would fall in front of NBA players and reporters. I’m not the most graceful of human beings. But, as with all of the stories you shared with me, it makes me laugh to think about it.