Well, our worry about no compelling narrative for Warriors-Jazz has been solved. Apparently the Warriors have decided Salt Lake City isn’t fully to their liking.
Great. A talking point to take us through the weekend, because we all wanted to avoid the basketball at all costs.
A number of Warriors spoke frankly about the lack of swell distractions in the home of the Utah Jazz, which of course will play poorly in Salt Lake. This of course has nothing to do with the basketball games that begin Tuesday in Oakland and then re-begin Saturday in the Beehive State, but a tale must be told, and by damn it shall be Utah’s cultural shortcomings.
Now it's well known that nothing brings out the venom in a citizenry quite like visitors slagging the old home. In other words, Vivint Smart Home Arena will be, well, noticeable for its Warrior antipathy. There will be much booing and shouted invective, and not all of it culturally polite.
Will it change the basketball in any material way? Almost certainly not. Fans have been led to believe over the decades that they have an influence on the events they pay to see, and that is at best a tertiary effect (after talent and fortune). In other words, the Warriors are not considering that the Utah crowd will create enough difficulties to affect what most people believe should be a pretty boilerplate result.
[RATTO: Jazz will make series with Warriors harder than it looks]
But it will not prevent us from talking about it, as though Salt Lake City’s reputation as the best city in the NBA when it comes to staying in your room will drive public interest.
In fairness, the Warriors (most notably Matt Barnes and Andre Iguodala) did not make Salt Lake City an issue, but they did answer questions framed that way. Indeed, Draymond Green said his only concession to Utah was that he would eat more red meat this week to increase his red blood cell count for the road games. And no, he wasn’t complaining that Salt Lake City should be moved to a lower altitude; he was merely pointing out what he intended to do about playing there, which is a far cry from decrying the lack of night life.
And let’s be clear here – what they say about Salt Lake City is pretty much true. It is a pretty buttoned-down town for the modern-day athlete. Most of the people who live there like it that way, and frankly, what else could you ask for from a city than to serve the needs of desires of its citizens? The fact that it isn’t Los Angeles so works for them, so who can argue with that?
It will, however, be turned into a pejorative by the people of Salt Lake City to stoke whatever internal fire they have about their beloveds playing an overwhelming favorite (hint: Game 1 of this series has the Warriors as a 13-point favorite, which is pretty well absurd except for the fact that that’s probably how the money would have moved anyway). They can manufacture the old, “The Warriors think we’re dull and boring, so let’s show them” battle cry, and it may make one of the six officials (or nine, if the series goes six games) a little squirrelly, but that’s about the outer limit of their influence.
Not because Jazz fans aren’t loud enough or passionate enough, but because that’s pretty much how the fan thing works everywhere. They start out loud, then let events tell them how to use their voices afterward, rather than the other way around.
So sure, Salt Lake City’s needle hovers between “boring” and “point me to the airport” for the average NBA player. This is neither new, nor news. But it will amuse some folks for five more days, and in the absence of a better story line, I guess that’s what we’re stuck with for the moment.
That is, unless you’re one of those tedious old fuds who watch basketball for the basketball. Which ought to be more interesting than people who worry about a town’s reputation might think.