By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Nothing screams “die-hard fan” like a good old-fashioned jersey-burnin’. It’s almost a rite of passage for scorned sports fans to take the jerseys of their ex-franchise players and literally burn away every last memory once they bolt for other cities. It’s part of being passionate about your team. You cheer them on, you love unconditionally, and start fires when they betray you.
After decades rooting for Salt Lake City’s only pro sports franchise, Utah Jazz fans can finally say they’ve popped the jersey-burning cherry. There is no documented video of Karl Malone jerseys burning back in 2004, so we can go ahead and assume that the Great Gordon Hayward Bonfire of 2017 was Utah’s first such instance – certainly the first to spread across the state or happen so publicly.
You can watch one fan roasting a Hayward jersey in the video above, but a tip of the cap goes to SI’s Scooby Axson for compiling several other fans who shared their jersey fires on Twitter with the hashtag #Betrayward.
Shout-out to the fans who did more productive things with their Hayward jerseys like sell them on eBay.
Congratulations, however, are in order for Jazz fans. You just got your first taste of true heartbreak, in a league defined by free agents jumping ship for better chances to win or opportunities for bigger paydays. Hayward went to the Celtics because it gave him the best chance to win out of his three possible choices.
Players don’t stay with the same team forever anymore, and Jazz fans just got a good strong whiff of that painful truth on the Fourth of July. These fans aren’t the first to symbolically burn their ex-favorite player’s jersey, and they certainly won’t be the last.
Now, Jazz fans will simply need to wait for their next hero. And probably make sure their fire pits are ready.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.