Sometimes the best trips happen in the last minute.
That was the case on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, when my coworker, Sherre Fishler, called me up at 7:45 a.m., and asked me if I wanted to attend the Utah Jazz game that evening with her husband, Ben Fishler, and herself.
I hesitated for just a minute.
The only reason why I did is because I have dialysis treatments every Wednesday at 6 a.m. and I never miss a treatment.
I'm only late because of family emergency and of course attending a Jazz game in person.
With that in mind I told Sherre Fishler “yes” and the trip was on.
I arrived to work with a big smile on my face and I couldn't but help have an extra step that day.
After all, I was going to be cheering on the Jazz in a just a few short hours. My other coworkers were excited for me along with my wife, Stephanie Tippets, who wanted me to have a blast.
The day at work went by fast and we left right on schedule. The best thing about going with Ben Fishler is he likes to show up early for the games, so I knew I was in great hands.
We made it to Salt Lake City before 6 p.m. and the scheduled tip with the Philadelphia 76ers was set for 7 p.m.
The three of us made it to the newly renovated Vivint Smart Home Arena in plenty of time to spare. The first thing I noticed was the cool J-Note statue that was built right outside the arena. It was awesome walking and seeing the $125 million in renovations that were made this fall to the arena.
The upgrades just happened in 129 days according to reports.
After walking into the new entrance, the first thing that stood out was Utah-based chains like Cubby's, Maxwell's Pizza and Cheese Steak, Cup-Bop and R&R BBQ.
We decided on pizza, which I believe is the best food to eat before seeing a pro basketball game. It was a perfect way to break in the new arena.
Inside the arena, the seating capacity has decreased to 18,300. Down from 19,911. The seats have gone from hard plastic green to an upholstered, cushioned blue. Concrete has been cleared away from some concourse areas and sixth-floor areas to create more open social spaces.
We had excellent seats as they were on the 20th row right behind the basket where the 76ers had their bench.
There is a lot more seating space than there has been in the past.
For some reason, we had a few 76ers fans right by us, but they turned out be very polite fans cheering on the visitors. With the loss of star Gordon Hayward after he departed for more money to play for the Boston Celtics, I knew this season was going to be a challenge for the young Utah team in the NBA.
That was true with the 76ers as the visiting team came away with a 104-97 victory. The Jazz did fight all the way to the end, keeping us in the seats for the entire game.
We saw a pair of the better rookies in the league in Philadelphia's Ben Simmons and Utah's Donovan Mitchell.
Simmons is my pick to win the Rookie of the Year award as he came away with three incredible dunks.
He can do a little bit of everything. He is playing with the poise and confidence right now of a five-year veteran.
Mitchell struggled with his shooting in the game with the 76ers, but he did drill a 3-pointer right as the second half expired.
Mitchell is the real deal. He isn't going to shy away from the pressure of playing in a grueling 82-game schedule.
When everything was finished. I couldn't have been happier with my evening with the Fishlers. It made my month.
We did get home roughly around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday and I received four hours of sleep. I was a hour late for treatment, but it was worth it.
I'm proud to say, I'm a Jazz fan for life.