The untold story of Ron Boone: returning to where it all started -- Jazz in New Orleans 3/11/18 2PM

Discussion in 'Utah Jazz' started by infection, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. infection

    infection Well-Known Member 2018 Award Winner

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    The Jazz look to gain a game on another western conference competitor with a win tonight. They turn back time as they return to the land where it all started.

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    Most are familiar with some elements of Jazz history. Sam Battistone, original owner and pancake restraunteer, joined the LDS Church in the late 1970s, which in part played a role for his familiarity with Utah and the franchise’s ultimate relocation. But there are a lot of elements of this story that have not been shared. Until now.

    Ron Boone

    Long-time Jazz color commentator Ron Boone originated from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and finished high school in Omaha, Nebraska, before splitting his college time between JUCO in Iowa and finishing off at Idaho State University, before playing professionally in the ABA for the Texas Chaparrals. Considering himself a nomad of sorts, Ron Boone felt a yearning for a place of permanence, but until then had never felt that he had truly “arrived home.” On a fateful day, Ron found himself packing his belongings and moving to SLC to play for the Utah Stars.

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    Though he admits his first transitions to Utah – both in culture and climate – had been somewhat tumultuous, Ron later remarks that, second to basketball, he had found his true love: Salt Lake City, Utah. Ron welcomed his community with open arms – he had finally found his little slice of heaven. He ended up spending, as he describes it, “five-and-a-half of the greatest years of my life,” with the Stars in the 1970s. Ron started off his career in Utah with a bang, by helping win the ABA Championship in his first year. His success on the floor translated to his emerging status as a Utah socialite, often hob-nobbing with the likes of Robert Redford, the Osmonds, and even LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball. Unfortunately, Ron’s time with the Stars ultimately came to an end and, shortly after he played his last game for the Stars, the franchise folded.

    Spencer W. Kimball

    Born in Salt Lake City, Kimball served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1973-1985. Though only standing 5’6”, Kimball was the star and leading scorer of his high school basketball team. Born in 1895, the culture of basketball was not as developed as it stands in present day. With World War I looming, basketball was left as a recreational sport, but as the game arose in popularity, Kimball always wondered the answer to the question of what might have been. While serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he tried to catch as many Utah Stars games as his schedule would allow. Their championship run solidified his passion for basketball, and one player in particular caught his eye: Utah’s favorite son, Ron Boone. Kimball saw a younger version of himself in Boone. Over time, the two started a dialogue during pre-game shoot-arounds which eventually led to a genuine off-the-court friendship that lasted until Kimball’s death in 1985. “Kimball was a tenacious little guy,” Boone recalls. “You wouldn’t guess that from his stature and general appearance.” Kimball helped Boone with his free throws, often throwing balls to him for practice. Away from the court, they both enjoyed cooking, though Kimball’s largest regret was never making him his favorite skillet queso, or teaching him about skillets.

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    (Above: Ron Boone accompanies Kimball out on the town)

    1976-1978: Years of sadness

    After leaving the Stars, Boone had stints across I-70 in both Kansas City and St. Louis. Missing his adopted home of Utah, he fell into a deep depression and felt total despair at the thought of – what he had believe would be his permanent home – Utah no longer possessing a professional basketball franchise. He had even contemplated walking away from the game completely. However, his fortunes changed on June 26, 1978, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Hot Rod Hundley

    At the peak of his despair, Boone arrived in LA under coach Jerry West. Immediately, he recognized something was amiss. West, wanting to rehabilitate Boone’s game, sought ways to connect personally with his 6’2” guard. Eventually, West discovered Boone’s love of Battleship and knew immediately that he needed to connect him with his former teammate and then New Orleans Jazz commentator Hot Rod Hundley. Their connection was immediate, with Hundley himself being a rather large Battleship fan himself. They connected on road trips, meeting before games at bars where Hundley would get plastered and he and Boone would talk ship-sinking strategy.

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    As Hundley took Boone under his wing, he impressed upon his mind the short-lived nature of his physical abilities and imparted his wisdom about building his post-playing career now. Hundley loved the color commentating business, but was uncertain about his future with a struggling New Orleans franchise and wasn’t certain if he’d ever achieve his dream of owning a restaurant that bears his name. This was when Boone confided in him that there was such a place, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. A little place called Salt Lake City. It was at that moment that Hot Rod and Booner began orchestrating their plan to land them both back in their mountain home. With Sam Battistone, then majority owner of the New Orleans Jazz, living in Los Angeles, it enabled Hot Rod to work from his local Louisianna level and for Booner to work from his angle in Los Angeles.

    Return to Kimball

    In 1978, Boone reached back out to his best Salt Lake friend and then LDS Church President Spencer Kimball. He told him of he and Hot Rod’s plan to bring an NBA franchise to Utah and needed his assistance. Kimball was ecstatic. He immediately convened a meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in an upper room of the Salt Lake Temple. Enthused with the news, the 15 began contemplating what they could do to assist the matter and their minds were immediately called upon their recent discussions on blacks and the priesthood. Effective immediately, the LDS Church had ended its restrictions on black males holding the priesthood and published their 1978 revelation.

    Boone was thrilled with the news, but it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t certain what to do with Sam Battistone, whose ultimate decision it would be about relocating the team. Kimball suggested sending a pair of missionaries over to Battistone, sharing with him the message of the restoration, bringing him in to the fold, and the rest would be history.

    . . . CONTINUED BELOW . . .
     
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  2. infection

    infection Well-Known Member 2018 Award Winner

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    Local snags

    As word started to break in local outlets about a possible move out of New Orleans, there was some moderate pushback from some in the community. Most notably, a young high school kid and basketball star came forward with some outlandish claims to his local newspaper.

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    He alleged that while listening to his favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival record one night, a telephone booth came crashing through his bedroom and out of it emerged a man he described as “a skinny, dorky dude with glasses and a New York accent,” who proceeded to tell him his future. He began to tell him, the young child alleged, that he would one day grow into one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and that he would spend nearly two decades playing for the Jazz. Becoming the best while spending his career in his home state was music to the young man’s ears, but even more so to momma. When he caught wind of the Jazz possibly leaving the Bayou State, he led protests to bring awareness, eventually securing a meeting with Hot Rod and Boone. Behind closed doors, they told him of the sportsman’s paradise Utah was and, in exchange for his support, they promised to make the young man’s birthday a state holiday, celebrated with state-wide firework shows each year in his honor. This young man had a change of heart and began petitioning Jazz ownership for the move.

    As the stars aligned, the Jazz announced their move in 1979.

    October 25, 1979:

    With the Jazz now firmly in Utah, Jerry West obliges Boone’s trade demand and sends him to Utah in exchange for a 1981 third-round draft pick. Ron Boone, upon touching down at Salt Lake International, greets reports with his famous statement “This is the place,” followed up with “I will never leave!”

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    Tom Benson

    Benson, born and raised in New Orleans, is the current owner of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. He arose to riches through owning car dealerships, not dissimilar to Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller. He later parlayed his profit from those into other investments. His childhood passion being the round ball, he was overcome with enthusiasm when Sam Battistone and his investment group put an NBA franchise in his home city. As they struggled to provide adequate attendance for games, he sought to grow his empire large enough to purchase his hometown team and prevent it leaving the state. Unfortunately, he lacked the capital at the time but knew one day he’d be able to make a play of restoring the franchise to its roots should it ever fall away.

    Benson, himself a distant cousin of President Kimball successor Ezra Taft Benson, was a vehement anti-Mormon. When he discovered Battistone had joined the LDS Church and that there were rumblings of the franchise moving to the cult home of Utah, he turned to what he saw as the antithesis of LDS belief – Bayou Witchcraft. On the day it was announced the Jazz were departing for Utah, he took an oath with his own blood that he would avenge Battistone and restore the franchise, or at least its name, to what he felt was its rightful owner.

    Six years after the fateful move, Battistone acquired enough capital to purchase the New Orleans Saints football team in 1985. He believed that he could hold the sports franchise name – the Saints – as leverage in his war on Utah owning the Jazz name, believing that as the LDS Church grew in power, it would seek to possess the Saints’ name as an appropriate use for its basketball franchise.

    Benson’s revenge

    According to some, Benson’s blood oath against the Utah Jazz may have included a voodoo hex. No confirmation on whether this hex enabled the health and magical powers of many infamous Jazz-killers:

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    As the Jazz eventually sold to, literally, Benson's Utah counterpart in car sales, he's anger boiled over. When the opportunity finally arose in 2012 to purchase his NBA franchise, Benson jumped at the opportunity, with revenge in his sights. He informed commissioner Stern that he would agree to the purchase from the league under two conditions: 1) that his franchise receives the first pick in the 2012 draft and 2) that the GSW would win the coin toss with the Toronto Raptors, thus screwing Utah out of the 2012 GSW pick by one position and prohibiting them from taking local hero Damian Lillard.

    Benson locked in on his ultimate goal of either total revenge and annihilation of the Utah Jazz franchise, or their acquiescence and surrender of the Jazz title back to New Orleans. Things hit a boiling when he had to give his franchise the worst possible name in professional sports – The Pelicans. The fact that the Pelicans was the only other name that tied them to the city stung deeper, but nearly as bad as when he had to name their arena the worst name in professional sports – Smoothie King Center.

    Benson identified a three-pronged approach to taking down the Jazz before the 30th anniversary of the Jazz moving to Utah:

    1. Undermine support: diminish the Jazz fan base.
    Objective: Obtain as many Kentucky players as possible (Anthony, Rondo, Cousins, Liggins, Miller), drawing away PKM (@Dr. Jones ) and diminishing the interest of the most prolific fan message board poster ever. [this strategy has been fairly successful]

    2. Undermine personnel: Draft local hero Frank Jackson, and snatch up Nikola Mirotic in the last hour.

    3. Avenge the actions of Ron Boone: This one being more complicated, he has conjured the spirits of Pete Maravich and Hot Rod to be enslaved to do his evil bidding.

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    But the Jazz must defeat the Pelicans in order for the curse to be broken and to knock NOP from the 2018 playoffs.

    But Boone has been preparing for victory of his own, seeking vindication for his responsibility in the relocation. He’s even preparing to enjoy the spoils of success.

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    But in the midst of evil spirits and warring under lords, there is a source of supernal power that Boone and the Jazz may call upon in their darkest hour.

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    Don't miss it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  3. Saint Cy of JFC

    Saint Cy of JFC Well-Known Member

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    One game I'll actually read one of these.
     
  4. Joe Bagadonuts

    Joe Bagadonuts Well-Known Member

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    What a fascinating history lesson, but I have to admit that reading the part about the salmon returning to Capistrano had me scratching my head. What about the swallows? Made me wonder if some of the other "facts" might be suspect as well... and where's the good luck girl? My wife is not entirely supportive of me taking charge of that part so I guess I'll just wait for someone else to step up.
     
  5. fishonjazz

    fishonjazz Well-Known Member Contributor 2018 Award Winner

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    Would your wife be happy if she was the good luck girl?
     
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  6. Jack Strop

    Jack Strop Well-Known Member

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    Gonna burn in hell for this, but with all the LDS -related references in the OP, it seems appropriate she should be the good-luck girl.

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  7. Jack Strop

    Jack Strop Well-Known Member

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    Or since we're in the land of witchcraft, maybe we could use the help of a different Emma. She seems eager to volunteer.


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    Who all grown up would make a pretty fine good luck girl, if not for being an annoying SJW.

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  8. infection

    infection Well-Known Member 2018 Award Winner

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    Tl;dr
     
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  9. infection

    infection Well-Known Member 2018 Award Winner

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    Pretty sure she’s 12 in that picture.
     
  10. Jack Strop

    Jack Strop Well-Known Member

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    Yes, she played a witch. Hence the post and reference.
    And then me showing her all grown up.
    What's your point?
     
  11. infection

    infection Well-Known Member 2018 Award Winner

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    I was talking about the second photo.
     
  12. Jack Strop

    Jack Strop Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I'm wrong, but she did her GQ photo shoot in 2013 at the age of 23. But enough with my attempts. Amazing game post.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  13. NUMBERICA

    NUMBERICA Well-Known Member

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    This is pure ****ing insanity
     
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  14. infection

    infection Well-Known Member 2018 Award Winner

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    You’ll have to elaborate on that.
     
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  15. Rubashov

    Rubashov Well-Known Member

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    I've got a T Shirt somewhere that says "Not to advocate violence, drugs or insanity but they've always worked for me."

    Dude you've got to read yourself some of the Flashman books, seems like you like a bit of historical fiction.
     
  16. infection

    infection Well-Known Member 2018 Award Winner

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    Anthony Davis is a game-time decision tomorrow.
     
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  17. colton

    colton All Around Nice Guy Staff Member

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    Fantastic narrative @infection. Well done, highly entertaining read. :)
     
  18. colton

    colton All Around Nice Guy Staff Member

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    The "where beer flows like wine" line cracked me up also, in case people didn't catch that.
     
  19. fishonjazz

    fishonjazz Well-Known Member Contributor 2018 Award Winner

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    I bet he plays :(
     
  20. candrew

    candrew Well-Known Member

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    I want him to play so we can watch Rudy break his spirit again.
     

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