I came home from my mission (nice segue from the last post, don't you think?) in March of 1999. That was the year where there was an NBA strike in the early portion of the season. To make up games, the Jazz were playing almost every night. Now I had always been a Jazz fan, but I hadn't ever before actively followed the team. I had never watched enough games to know all the players, to know what was going on in the season, and to sense the grandeur of the Playoffs and Finals. During this time, however, I went to an intensely lonely and mind-numbing job all day, and virtually every night returned home to a cozy Jazz game with chips and salsa and my good friends John Stockton, Karl Malone, Flyin' Bryon Russell, and Jeff Hornacek. My life was complete and happy. I at times lament the timing of my joining the Jazz fan base due to the fact that the two years immediately preceeding this, the Jazzmen took us to the Finals. But in reality it is better this way. In 1998 I was in Chile and would not have been a part of the action anyway. By not knowing how wonderful it was, I didn't realize how much I was giving up. ANYWAY, back to the Playoffs of '99. In the first round, the Jazz beat the Sacramento Kings in a nailbiter fifth game (back when the first round had only five games). Although we won, I developed a great dislike for the Kings and greasy East European players. The second round was against the Portland Trailblazers. After four games, it looked bleak for the Jazz, who were down 3-1. Then they won another game, making it 3-2 and breathing life back into the Finals dreams of Jazz fans everywhere. But it was not to be. The Jazz lost game 6, and the season was over. It was sad, sad, sad. But sadder still was the realization that came upon me in the days to follow. The only friends I had were the Jazz players. The only social life I had were the Jazz games. And with the Jazz out of the Playoffs, I was out of luck. It was a sad, sad, sad hit of reality. But every October they come back. John and Karl have moved on, but I have Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, Matt Harpring, and Kyle Korver (my favorite). And for those who don't know, after the past few rebuilding years, they've been doing absolutely fabulously this year. They finished 4th in the Western Conference and not many games behind first. They are currently playing the Houston Rockets in the first round. The first two games were in Houston, and our boys won them both! That means that the Jazz are headed home for the next two games and they are already two games up! And the Jazz have the best home-game record in the entire NBA! The winner of this series will go on to play the winner of the Lakers/Nuggets series (I think) in the Western Conference Semifinals. And the winner of that series will play in the Western Conference Finals. And the Western Conference champion will go on the play the Eastern Conference champion in the NBA Finals. If you want to be inspired by this team, go to http://www.utahjazz.com/ and watch the flash intro. If that doesn't get your heart pumping, I don't know what will. This is what dreams are made of. GO JAZZ GO!!!