Even with the Jazz coming home down 2-0 last season, people were excited about watching the them in the playoffs. The torch was officially passed from the Stockton/Malone era Jazz to the New Generation. Everyone wanted to see how the new squad would react in the playoffs. Also, playoff games are a blast! Everything is better! The play on the court is more intense, the fans are more jacked up, the pyrotechnics are outstanding, and even Pace Mannion seems more bearable in the euphoria that is the NBA post season in Utah.
I wanted to take part of that environment for the first home game against the Rockets last season. So, not having tickets, my wife went online and found some lower bowl tickets that were actually very reasonably priced. WE HAD A BLAST!!! The game was amazing, and I lost my voice for the next day or so (Always a sign that I had a really good time).
Yet, while we were at the game we saw the two polar opposites of Utah Jazz playoff fans. Behind us was a man and his son that were having the time of their lives. The son, who couldn't have been more than 5 or 6, was standing, cheering, and yelling with the rest of the crowd. The door give away were megaphones (which must have raise the volume of the crowd another 10-15 decibels, because it was LOUD!) and the kid behind us loved using it. When give-aways happened, we made sure the kid got as many things as possible. T-shirts, Frisbees, mini-basketball, etc. He was standing, cheering, high-fiving, and really having the time of his life.
On the other hand below us we witnessed a man that seemed to be trying to hold back the ocean with his own two hands. Here is a man that really had no business being at a playoff game(or really any Jazz game for that matter). He only stood for the National Anthem, and the only cheer that he gave was telling the people in front of him to sit down. The noise seemed to bother him quite a bit as well. Telling people around him, his wife, and his children to stop yelling. His temper came to a peak during the third quarter when after an amazing dunk the crowd exploded and tired to tear the roof off the arena with their voices. The man could hold it in no longer, and wanted to put a face to the noise in the arena. He turned around, poked me in the chest, and threaten to inflict bodily harm on ME if I wouldn't keep it down! Shocked by the man's anger towards me I shrugged, looking side-to-side with my arms out stretched as if to say, "How am I suppose to keep these people quite?" I was unable to express these thoughts vocally, as all the fans around the man expressed their displeasure in much stronger terms.
After hearing this rebuke, from everyone sitting around him, the man sat down in disgust. While the other fans around me told me they had my back, and what they would do to that man if he were to threaten me again. The grumpy man in front of me, after being turned away by the fans, tried to appeal to a higher source. Racing up the stairs to the usher standing by the portal. I looked up in interest to see the man, obviously relating the what had just transpired, and then pointing down directly at me. The usher response to the man was perfect. He looked around, with oddly the same mannerisms that I displayed earlier, and I saw him mouth, "What do you except? It's the playoff."
This second rejection was more than the man could bear. Deciding to retreat, by leaving the game, in the middle of the third quarter. This action was followed by upper-bowl fans sneaking down to take his seats. Something that all of the fans around greeted with great joy.
So how do you avoid being a terrible playoff fan? Be Prepared!
1) Be prepared for noise! Know that a playoff game is more noisy and intense than regular season games. If you have sensitive ears, then get ear plugs before the game starts. I have friends that will get them even for regular season games, and they work great to lower the sound of the arena. If you don' t think you can handle the extra noise and excitement, do yourself and the people that would be sitting around you favor, stay home and watch it on TV.
2) Be prepared to stand! Once the game tips-off you will be on your feet for the majority of the game. I know a lot of you aren't used to this if you are coming from poor crowds (such as Houston(I had to take a shot at the awful fans there)), or you think you can be a "sit-down guy," but if you can't handle standing, stay home and watch it on TV.
3) Be prepared for more rowdiness from people in the stands! I am not encouraging throwing stuff on the court or long verbal tirades, both of which regardless of the situation go way beyond the line of fanhood. I am not encouraging fans to berate opposing fans, but there should be some trash talk spoken to them. There are going to be more signs, and so you will have to show patience with them. There are going to be more people going wild and having a good time. There is going to be more excitement! If you can't handle that, stay home and watch it on TV.
Bottom line, the playoffs are more intense all-around, and that includes the fans at the games. Please, if you can't handle it don't come. You will enjoy the game more, and the people that would have sat next to you thank you in advance. I hope the crowd this year is as good as the crowd last year. If they are, then break out the brooms because a SWEEP IS COMING!