Jay C. Brandriet

Do you remember the first pro basketball game you went to in person?

For me, it was April 23rd, 1988.

I would be 13 years old the following week.

By that time, Magic Johnson had ignited my love for the entire National Basketball Association.

I was on my way to see my first ever NBA game.

I’m grateful for my friend Jason Clegg and his father Dave for taking me.

The Houston Rockets were in town to play the Utah Jazz in the season finale.

When we walked into the Salt Palace, I looked up at the ceiling and was in awe.

In the movie “City Slickers” Billy Crystal’s character recalls “his best day.”

“I’m 7 years old and my dad takes me to Yankee Stadium. My first game. We’re going in this long dark tunnel beneath the stands, I’m holding his hand, and we come out of the tunnel into the light. It was huge. How green the grass was, how brown the dirt, that great green copper roof, you remember? We had a black and white T.V. so this was the first game I ever saw in color. Sat the whole game next to my dad. He taught me how to keep score. Mickey hit one out. I still have the program.”

Alright. Maybe it wasn’t “Mickey hit one out” good, but I was having an experience.

We sat in the 15th row, center court.

There wasn’t a bad view in the Salt Palace.

It was like a rodeo arena.

Capacity? An intimate 12,444.

Seeing (then) Akeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone and John Stockton that close was thrilling.

The result was a 125-107 Jazz victory.

This Saturday night was about John Stockton making history.

John broke Isiah Thomas single season assist total of 1,123.

He later shattered that, and the record hasn’t been approached since.

The following day I looked at the cover of the sports section in the Deseret News.

There was a huge color photo of Akeem fading away for a shot.

You could clearly see my buddy Jason next to Olajuwon’s armpit.

Which of course meant I was an Akeem armpit from being in the paper.

A near miss I was happy to be a part of.

As much as 35 years ago today, can feel like yesterday……

It feels like yesterday.

I still have the program.

Jay C. Brandriet

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