COLUMN: Brotherly Love and Basketball

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

“No one likes us! No one likes us! No one likes us! We don’t care! We’re from Philly! (Bleeping) Philly! No one likes us! We don’t care! No one likes us! No one likes us! No one likes us! We don’t care! We’re from Philly! (Bleeping) Philly! No one likes us! We don’t care!”

Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles, at the Super Bowl victory parade.

A few weeks back, I posted a column in which I opined on a few sports issues regarding Utah. I had read many arguments from Utah Jazz fans on the subject of their fervent belief that Donovan Mitchell, who plays for the Jazz, should win the NBA Rookie of the Year award over Ben Simmons, who plays for my hometown Philadelphia 76ers.

Mostly, I was trolling. I long ago gave up caring about post-season awards in all sports. It is a fun debate, but when the announcement is made I usually forget about it five minutes later. However, this time I noticed that this argument was passionately engaged by Jazz fans, specifically on my social networking feeds.

My hypothesis from a month back is still valid. I believe that in most things—and especially with the Jazz—Utahns are desperate for any and all positive recognition. From some it is a Mormon attitude of constantly seeking legitimacy from the world entire. Mostly, it is just a secular desire from residents of a “flyover” state to be thought of as relevant.

The Jazz are Utah’s only entrant in the four major sport leagues in America. Utahns’ love for the Jazz is borderline sacred. I admire that devotion. Because some of my dearest friends in Utah are lifelong Jazz fans, I root for them to do well. The Jazz have never won an NBA Championship. I’d be happy to see people dear to me experience the level of euphoria I recently felt watching my beloved Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl.

Utah would explode. Some Utahns may stay up and party past midnight. Reverently, of course.

You see what I did there? I played on Utahns’ stereotype of being boring.

What would a Jazz victory parade even look like? The lede to this column are words spoken at the recent parade for the Eagles after their first NFL Championship in 57 years. Jason Kelce earned the unwavering and immortal love of Philadelphians with his vulgar, drunken rant. If a player on the Jazz gave that same speech at their victory parade, he’d be arrested on the spot.

And the fever pitch for Jazz fans is running mild (I did it again!) with them up three games to two over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Game Six is in Salt Lake City. Between their success and that of the 76ers, my feeds are blowing up with basketball bliss.

While the abundance of hoops happiness posted by friends makes me smile, there is a profound difference in the way Jazz and 76ers fans show their enthusiasm for their current playoff success.

The major difference between the two fan bases that caught my eye was the verbiage used with the recognition both teams are receiving. In nearly every case, Jazz fans are downright giddy that America is noticing how good their squad is. Many Jazz fans rush to post positive feedback on social networking from television personalities, most decidedly from ESPN.

This is the manifestation of the above-mentioned theory. Jazz fans slobber like a petted puppy at the thought that the country might love their team as much as they do.

“Plenty of room on the bandwagon.” That is a common refrain I read from Utahns.

Heck, even Mitt Romney has fallen in love with the Jazz! He used to be a Celtics fan when he was the Governor of Massachusetts; but everyone is allowed two teams so long as they play in different conferences, so I am giving Mitt a pass on this.

Philadelphians? We hate front runners. We just don’t stop at preventing people from getting on the bandwagon, we kick you in the street and steal your wallet.

The Philadelphia mentality is simple: If you did not love us when our teams sucked, do not love us when we are good. You haven’t earned your stripes.

Philly never asked for your love. Philly does not need your love. Philly does not want your love. America makes fun of us when we suck, so stay away and seeth when we are good.

Philly ain’t Utah!

And that brings me to the proliferation of Philly-area celebrities that have found their love for the 76ers this year. On Tuesday night, the main celebrities to be found at courtside were Kevin Hart and just-released-from-prison hip hop star Meek Mill.

And I mean “just released”. Just a few hours before the game, Meek was filmed leaving prison, getting in a helicopter supplied for him by the 76ers’ co-owner Michael Rubin, and was courtside for tip off. It was surreal to watch.

On a side note, I am done with Kevin Hart. I never laugh at his stand-up routines and his movies suck. He is the new Adam Sandler, but less funny.

Read that last sentence again and ponder.

Bluntly stated, Kevin Hart and these other fake fans were not there three years ago when the Sixers were 10-72, so don’t show up now.

Can you imagine the front running celebs that would show up in Philly and Salt Lake City if the Jazz and 76ers both made the Finals? Well, they’d hang out in Philly. The games in SLC would see private jets show up from Las Vegas an hour before tip and head back to Sin City an hour after the game ends.

And what exactly would be the wagers between the respective elected officials in this hypothetical final series? I can see Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf offering Utah Governor Gary Herbert a case of Yuengling or Yards beer. When Herbie would inform Wolf that he, as a Mormon, doesn’t drink, Wolf would tell Herbie he will keep the beer and drink it himself. Then he would call Herbie a dork before slamming the phone down.

And Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney would offer Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski roast beef sandwiches from Nick’s, roast pork sandwiches from John’s, strombolis, panzarottis, cannolis from Termini’s, Tastykake pies and, yes, a truckload of cheesesteaks. In return, Mayor Biskupski would offer fry sauce.

That’s just grotesquely unfair.

Oh, mighty Gods of Basketball, please see your way to permitting a Jazz-76ers final to come to pass. The two weeks of trolling both fan bases coupled with instigating smack talk between friends from these two different worlds would be the greatest moment of my life.

To conclude this column, as well as to further show the different mentalities of Jazz and Sixers fans, allow to post how I believe most conversations between them would sound like leading up to Game One.

JAZZ FAN: Win or lose, I hope we have an exciting series. Good luck.

SIXERS FAN: (Bleep) you!

JAZZ FAN: Wow! That was flippin’ rude. I was trying to be nice.

SIXERS FAN: (Bleep) nice!

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