It’s easy to like a team that’s on a 10-game win streak. Right now the Jazz are everyone in Utah’s darling. Think of it this way: Joe Ingles is a semi-rock star.
Nobody saw that coming.
All this is predictable, considering the success. But there’s something more. It’s that the current Jazz iteration appears to want to be in Utah and fans want them here. The Jazz are only in 10th place, but the interest level far exceeds that.
Never underestimate the power of bonding.
Gordon Hayward was a popular figure before he left Utah, thus the #stayward campaign. But lately it feels like he was never here. Fans have moved on, thanks to the team they now follow — a group that seems to genuinely enjoy playing in Salt Lake. Ingles, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Jae Crowder have made it no secret they’re happy to be here.
Gobert is the fierce, unapologetic leader Jazz fans want him to be. Mitchell has fans charmed, something Hayward, as good as he was — never did. Hayward said he loved Utah, but never said he loved playing in Utah. The connection with fans was based solely on results.
Things can change. Once Gobert and Mitchell get close to free agency, they’ll possibly pull back a bit, leaving their options open to play elsewhere. But right now there’s no denying their attitude. Both showed it in the Jazz’s comeback win over San Antonio on Monday, as did Ingles and others.
Cheering for players on the home team is often a relationship of necessity. But the formula for the kind of vibe surrounding the Jazz right now is a different level. It’s actually fairly easy math. Winning is the main thing. But also, let fans know you love playing for them and they’ll love you back. Act like it’s just a job and the fans will act the same.