It was a Diet Rite kind of night, and don’t even ask how many cans he put away.
Jack Lane, former high school basketball referee and current crop insurance adjuster, drinks pop like water. He claims his seat before 4 p.m. Friday.
Larry Beach, Lane’s regular seatmate in the third booth from the back TV, grabs the remote control. They never miss a Jazz game, but they skipped Jack and Dan’s Tavern for the past three NBA Finals games.
“All the regulars - a lot of ‘em - left,” Lane says. “They said the heck with it. It’s too crowded.”
It’s packed like a case of beer. There’s a City Council member in the back room. An English bobby on holiday sitting at the bar. Plenty of lawyers, all Gonzaga Law School refugees. And gaggles of Gonzaga students. All avid fans of Jazz guard John Stockton.
“Write ‘Gonzaga’ down,” says one student, hands kicking out quote marks. “‘Stockton?’ ‘The Jazz?’ ‘Gonzaga?’ Get it?”
Yes. Jack and Dan’s is partly owned by Stockton’s father. And the people here want the Jazz to win so badly they stamp.
They don’t get so lucky Friday, in the sixth and last game of the series. The Jazz leads until 8 minutes and 44 seconds remain, when the Bulls leap ahead. Then the Jazz pulls even.
“That’s like kissing your sister, isn’t it? A tie,” Lane says.
The kiss doesn’t last long. Lane clasps his hands in front of his face, around the gold cross holding his grandmother’s diamond, and prays for the Jazz to stop messing up.
But the Jazz loses after a particularly bad pass and a Bulls dunk.
“Well, it’s over,” says Lane, putting down his glass and grabbing for his coat.
“That’s a terrible way to lose this game,” says Beach, leaning back in the booth. “It’s a shame.”
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