Who'd you rather spend your night watching, Dick Clark or Tim Duncan? They're both entertaining old men. No? Fine then, which younger suave star would you rather see perform, Ryan Seacrest or Tony Parker? If that doesn't sell you, then at least this game — the first of four Spurs-Jazz duels — will give you something to do until the countdown begins and the chips run out.
Also worth watching:
Jan. 3 — Bucks at Jazz: Utah's favorite Australian (Andrew Bogut, not Mel Gibson) makes a rare visit;
Jan. 17 — Clippers at Jazz: Blake Griffin might dunk over a Miller-sold Kia;
Jan. 30 — Blazers at Jazz: Wesley Matthews brings his three-goggles to Utah;
Feb. 7 — Jazz at Pacers: Who goes more berserk: Indiana fans for beloved Butler star Gordon Hayward or ex-Ute coach Jim Boylen on the bench?;
March 23 — Denver at Utah: Kosta Koufos brings his dance moves back;
April 21 — Dwight Howard brings his Magic act.
This might cause an awkward moment for some Jazz fans. Like most Americans, they rooted heavily for the Mavericks to beat the Heat in the Finals. Do fans applaud them for winning or boo because they can't keep cheering for Mark Cuban's team and especially that guy some refer to as "Dirty Dirk" in Utah, right? No doubt the awkwardness and/or hospitality will have worn off by April 16 when Dallas visits again.
It's always fun when the Heat's Big Three come to town. Who can resist watching Dexter Pittman, Norris Cole and Joel Anthony? It is a shame Sundiata Gaines won't be there to welcome LeBron James back to EnergySolutions Arena.
(P.S. The Jazz won't pay a visit to Florida this season, but Utah traveling media don't have to go to Milwaukee or Detroit this winter, so a certain Jazz beat writer will absolve the NBA schedule-maker for this otherwise egregious error.)
Division foes Utah and Oklahoma City only get three shots at each other, a bummer for Kevin Durant fans but fortunate considering the Thunder's talent level.
The Jazz might put extra emphasis on getting this one. A Valentine's Day rematch awaits them four days later in OKC, and that's on the third night of an all-road back-to-back-to-back set.
Sorry, Utah chapter fans. There's only one game against the Chicago Jazz this season, and it's on the road. That means ESA spectators won't get to boo Carlos Boozer or cheer, ooh and ahh over Kyle Korver or warmly applaud Ronnie Brewer in person.
Salt Lake City will also miss out on seeing Derrick Rose in person, making this a must-see-MVP-TV game.
Andrei Kirilenko was a fixture in Utah for 10 years. Granted, sometimes he was the broken fixture that required you to shower down the hall instead of in your own bathroom, but fans love(d) the incredibly versatile Russian-American. Well, except the ones who didn't love his injuries or inconsistencies that made him an international man of mystery. Oh yeah, and that contract. THAT contract. Remember how he made $17.8 million last season for ... oh ... yeah.
Nyet! You won't want to miss AK-47's return, whether it's with or against Utah (definitely not at that price). Keep in mind, he considers Salt Lake City his second home.
It is an away game, so Jazz fans have to wait until Jan. 11 to thank ex-Utah fan-fav-turned-villain-for-some Derek Fisher for his labor-strife role. Utah can also thank the NBA because its Game No. 1 will be the last night of a back-to-back-to-back for L.A. You won't hear a smarmy word from Phil Jackson. He's retired. This will be the Jazz's first match-up with the Mike Brown-coached Lakers.
The way rumors are flying, it's possible (though unlikely) L.A. could feature Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant by then. Whoever's there — players or celebs — this opener is enticing, albeit late.
Fun reminder: Gordon Hayward scored 22 and the Jazz beat the Lakers the last time they visited in April.
The franchise hasn't announced anything official yet to honor Jerry Sloan.
But a night to pay tribute to the backbone of the franchise for the past 23 years has gotta be coming, doesn't it? It should and will.
Sloan has only returned to EnergySolutions Arena once since his stunning resignation last February, and that was to be inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame last month. Here's hoping it won't take another nine months to get him back into the place he won so many games and had so many magical moments. Here's also hoping Bear chauffeurs Sloan around the court on a John Deere tractor for a few well-deserved victory laps.
Jimmer Fredette received a huge ovation, fans lined up for his autograph and he was treated like a big-time star the last time he visited EnergySolutions Arena — and he was just a college kid watching a pro basketball game at the time. Forty-plus media members surrounded him for quotes the one time No. 32 wore a Jazz logo at a pre-draft camp.
Can you imagine what Jimmermania will be like when BYU's living legend comes back to Utah for a real basketball game? The building — heck, the state — will be ABUZZ. Hoops hysteria.
A Sports Illustrated writer even included this one in his top-10 must-see games for the entire NBA. Jazz fans only hope they don't get Jimmered. Then again, considering the fun spark he brought to Beehive State basketball, they might not mind for a night. Heck, some University of Utah fans might even cheer for Fredette (again) if he drains from his ridiculous range.
It's still mind-boggling how two guys once considered to be the next Stockton-to-Malone were booed by Jazz fans in consecutive games — IN UTAH.
Sure enough, two nights after Carlos Boozer heard expected boobirds when his Bulls visited last February, Deron Williams, sporting No. 8 for Utah, received Bronx cheers by many in Jazz Nation. Fans were flabbergasted over his perceived role in Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan's midseason resignation. Two weeks later, D-Will was traded.
This will be Williams' first game back as an opponent since that mind-blowing chain of events unraveled. Jazz fans continue to debate whether that controversial deal was the right call. Was it worth giving up a superstar for a potential star in Derrick Favors, a solid point guard, cash, a future No. 1 pick and, oh yeah, not having to worry about what Williams would do when his contract expired? Or not? Will fans boo D-Will again? Or respectfully cheer the All-Star and Olympian for the occasionally great times he helped create in Utah for 5-1/2 years? The crowd will likely resemble Williams — a mixture of surliness and smiles, but all fired up.