SALT LAKE CITY — If you attended the last two playoff games in Vivint Arena or heard it on TV, your ringing ears might still be letting you know it's Utah, not Oklahoma City, that brought the thunder into this first-round series.
Jazz fans — specifically their loud and proud nature, emphasis on the LOUD — have emerged as one of the fun story lines of this postseason.
People have taken note.
Even an apparently converted Boston Celtics fan got caught up in Jazz playoff fever.
This re-energized fan base certainly has been given a lot of reasons to erupt into thunderous applause as Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles have led the Jazz to a surprising 3-1 lead over a star-studded and befuddled OKC.
Here are some highlights from Monday's crowd:
Brittany Pulley, a sixth-grade teacher at Manila Elementary in Pleasant Grove, was fortunate enough to watch Game 4 in the lower bowl with her boyfriend.
Because that happened, there's a student who all but guaranteed himself of a straight-A report card at the end of this school year.
During Manila's Teacher Appreciation Week last week, one of Pulley's students — Jonah Mendenhall — thoughtfully raised money at school to buy his teacher a playoff ticket.
The sixth-grader didn't stop with that kind gesture. He also wrote a letter to the Jazz, telling them, "I have a great teacher. She loves the Jazz and she's really good. If we pay for one ticket could she get a buddy ticket?"
The answer: YES! (The Jazz didn't publicize this, but they actually gave Pulley two complimentary tickets and allowed the schoolkids to keep their money.)
"They got us both tickets," said Pulley, who easily convinced Brandon Stanworth to go on this date with her. "This morning Jonah presents me with this envelope and and I started crying, of course. I have an amazing class."
Not only did Pulley joke that Mendenhall ensured himself of great grades, but the rest of the students were rewarded as well.
"No homework this week," she said.
Miss Pulley's class will understand if she was tardy and didn't have a voice Thursday morning.
"That my students would think to do this," she said, "is just amazing."
So was the game and atmosphere.
"My first playoff game," Stanworth said. "This is a blast."
Logan Fogg, an LDS Business College freshman, caused some of the ruckus in the arena during Monday's 113-96 Jazz win. Utah fans respectfully razzed him — one even booed him in the concourse during a quick interview — because he was sporting an OKC jersey.
Fogg is originally from Fresno, California, and he's been a huge fan of the Thunder since Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant first teamed up.
"I’ve gotten a little bit of yells here and there," he said, "but the people around me are pretty respectful though, so that’s nice."
One of the nice guys next to him was his brother, Connor. He's a Jazz fan, for the record, and said it "doesn't bother me that much" that his bro is rooting for the enemy.
"No," Connor Fogg said. "I like OKC."
"And I like Donovan Mitchell, too," Logan added, "so I’m not a hater or anything."
Jazz fans will get another chance to playfully hate Fogg this Friday if OKC can force a Game 6 at The Viv.
There's a couple of reasons why just about every seat was full well before Monday's tipoff. Fans — who all received Jazz T-shirts for an impressive whiteout effect — were very excited after two wins in a row, and the game didn't start until 8:40 p.m. to accomodate TNT's broadcast window.
Regardless of the late hour, 5-year-old Kace Cannon and his 8-year-old brother, Stockton, weren't about to miss this game. The two young kids, both sporting No. 45 Mitchell jerseys, were having a great time with their dad and grandpa.
"Boys night out," said Cregg Cannon, a Jazz fan from Salt Lake City. "I’ve always had tickets to the Jazz, and so I used to bring my kids down and now they’re bringing their kids. So it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good family thing to do."
Stockton — who happened to be in the same building as guys named John and David who have that last name — said he still planned on going to school on time Thursday morning.
That, no doubt, will make Mom happy, too.
The arena employee stationed at the sign-making station on the main concourse thoroughly enjoyed watching fans create messages with the provided poster paper and markers at her table.
She wasn't sure how many posters were made, but the thick stack of poster paper wasn't nearly as thick at halftime as it was before the game.
"They made a lot," she said. (Arena employees are not allowed to give their names.)
"They were all good. I can't pick a favorite."
Jazz fan Melissa Foust made the funniest poster of the night — and won the in-arena poster contest — with a clever reference to the two most famous Donnys with a Utah connection.
Here's another fun poster:
And a humorous one from Saturday's game:
Fans — at least ones who cheer for the team on The Hill — gave a rousing ovation when a former Jazz power forward was shown on the massive video screens. University of Utah basketball coach Larry Krystowiak fired up Ute fans by flashing the U.
Some other fun moments: A 10ish-year-old girl holding up a "Marry me, Mitchell" poster. Multiple "Pushoff P" chants to mock Paul George, who has a proclivity for pushing off, and his self-proclaimed Playoff P nickname. The new roof about being blown into orbit when Rudy Gobert swatted Russell Westbrook's shot into the stands. Fans loudly letting Carmelo Anthony know they saw his airballed 3-pointer. The place going absolutely berserk as Joe Ingles hit three after three after three following a slow start. Decibel levels that compare to a loud rock concert (115-plus at Saturday's game, and Monday's wasn't any quieter.)
Perhaps the loudest moment of many VERY LOUD MOMENTS — seriously, your ears would never know that the Jazz arena has 1,600 fewer seats than it did before its renovation — happened when sideline reporter Kristen Kenney interviewed the team's rookie sensation.
Kenney asked Mitchell a question that was broadcast in the arena, and No. 45 just soaked in the ear-piercing adoration of Jazz fans who'd witnessed him score 33 points, grab seven rebounds and dish out four assists while outplaying Westbrook (again).
The deafening roar crescendoed as a beaming Mitchell waved his arms up and laughed before saying a word. When the 21-year-old Rookie of the Year candidate finally got a chance to speak, he gave some love back to Jazz fans.
"Y'all are unbelievable."
As the Jazz's Twitter account noted, the feeling is mutual.