Utah Jazz fans around the world are struggling to cope with the retirement of . . . Garrett Edson.
Who? What position did he play, you ask?Edson is no NBA power forward, that's for sure, but he did more to keep Utah Jazz fans informed over the past 31/2 years than just about anyone out there in cyberspace.
Edson, who retired this spring to get a real job, started what he and others believe was the first unofficial Utah Jazz Internet Web site in January 1995.
Long before the arrival of NBA.com and the team's official Web site, the University of Pennsylvania student kept Malone and Stockton followers up to date with his simple but informative "Jazz Notes" Web site.
About 45,000 Web surfers landed on Edson's site during its lifetime, including visitors from more than 20 foreign countries. Like Edson, who found his local papers devoid of Jazz coverage, they all sought the same thing: news, scores, statistics and more about their favorite NBA team.
"The Jazz have a surprising amount of popularity. They are a lot more worldwide than people are led to believe," said Edson, a 21-year-old economics and international relations major from Long Island, N.Y.
"You have Jazz fans on the East Coast, in the South, in Canada and in Mexico. They're all over the place."
Edson became a Jazz fan 11 years ago after reading a Sports Illustrated article on Karl Malone and watching a rare East Coast telecast of a Jazz game.
But keeping up with the team was a challenge. He could have chosen the Knicks, the nearby Nets or even the 76ers. But no, Edson had to root for a team two time zones away. When the Jazz played on a Monday night, he had no idea which team won until Wednesday's paper arrived.
Then along came the Internet and the start of Edson's tenure at Penn.
"When I went to college I had no clue what the Internet was," Edson said in a telephone interview. "I was bored one day and I decided to look at it. A couple days later I was bored again and decided to create my own Jazz page."
Edson was bored often enough during his college career to turn his Web site into an impressive clearinghouse for Jazz information - schedules, seating charts, you name it. Eventually, he wrote his own editorials.
Jazz fans, particularly those outside the Mountain West, made him feel appreciated.
"I didn't think anything big was going to come of it, I just wanted to help other Jazz fans," he said. "I got great e-mail from a lot of people who told me to keep up the good work, so I kept doing it."
But now Edson is busy on the job-hunting circuit. He still writes editorials for another unofficial Jazz Web site, one maintained by Michael Walker of Logan. But "Jazz Notes" is gone forever.
Fortunately for Web-surfing Jazz fans, there are about two dozen unofficial sites to choose from these days, including Walker's "Undernet Channel for Utah Jazz Fans." Most have surfaced in the past 15 months, and links to many of them are available through Walker's Web site at (alt.xmission.com/(tilde)michaelw/utahjazz/fanpages.htm).
"It's kind of a friendly competition sometimes, to see who can have the information online first," said Walker, who started his page in 1996, becoming only the second fan - as far as he could tell - to do so.
Among the more recent page masters is Lauren Crissman of Wilmington, Del., who oversees the unofficial "John Stockton Homepage." Pancho Tuduri of Villa Allende, Argentina, posts "Utah Jazz On-Line." Adam Sacarny of Yorktown, N.Y., is the fan behind "Adam's Unofficial Utah Jazz Homepage."
Warwick Janetzki of suburban Melbourne, Australia, contributes to Walker's site and runs his own "Basketball World" page. In an e-mail letter to the Deseret News, Janetzki said he's been able to see all of the team's playoff games this year on Australian TV, although he had to get up at 4:45 a.m. for one of them.
Hilerie Scott, an 18-year-old known as JazzGirl in the unofficial Utah Jazz online chat room, maintains "Hil's Jazz Page" from her home computer in Rigby, Idaho.
"I'm just a big Jazz fan and I wanted to show everybody what a big fan I am," said Scott, who will attend the University of Idaho this fall. "I really like accessing the newspapers in Salt Lake and looking up information about the team."
Back in Utah, Brian Heath of West Valley City maintains "The Jazz Fan's Home Page," Ben Ellison of Sandy has "Guitaro's Utah Jazz Page," and Jason Scherbel of Ogden has the "Unofficial Home Page for the Utah Jazz."
Unofficial Jazz page masters contacted by the Deseret News said they haven't had trouble with the team or the NBA. Most said they try to avoid using trademark materials.