SALT LAKE CITY — On Friday night, the Utah Jazz brought a galaxy far, far away to Vivint Arena for Star Wars Night.
Thousands of fans poured into the arena, some wearing the new gold jersey, others in Jedi robes. The Force was certainly surging through the crowd from opening tip to the final whistle.
The Utah Jazz have hosted a Star Wars Night in the past, but nothing to the magnitude of Friday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Commemorative shirts and hats were sold at the team store with Jazz players in the same pose as the current Star Wars movie poster along with some other Star Wars themed items.
Different characters from the Star Wars universe made an appearance at the game including Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Rey, BB-8, and a few wookies as well.
Cosplayers like the 501st Legion came in full costume to take pictures with fans in the concourse. The non-profit organization Rocky Mountain Droid Builders brought working droids like BB-8 and an MSE “Mouse” droid. The Rocky Mountain Droid Builders come to events for no charge and bring along their hand constructed droids to share their passion with other Star Wars fans. Other cosplay groups to come to the game were the Mandalorian Mercs and the Rebel Legion.
Some of the music in the arena was from various Star Wars movies, and scenes were played on the jumbotron. The Jazz dancers performed a few Star Wars inspired dances including a spectacular choreographed lightsaber duel and they donned the robes of Princess Leia, hair buns included. The dancers didn’t have all the fun, as some of the Vivint staff wore Kylo Ren and Darth Vader masks.
The fans got involved during the game with a unified chant of “use the force” instead of the regular “defense” chant.
While fans like Corbin Christensen, Jenni Vitrano, and Daren Larsen couldn’t all agree on their favorite Star Wars film, they all admitted that having the Force would make life much more interesting.
“Levitate people or levitate things,” Larsen said.
“The mind tricks,” Vitrano said. “‘These are not the droids you’re looking for, definitely.”
“I don’t know, moving objects and the mind control thing is cool, too, but probably moving objects,” Christensen said. “I pretend to open the doors when we go into grocery markets.”
However, they did all agree that Jar Jar Binks is the worst character in all of the Star Wars movies.
The Force was certainly with the young Padawan, Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell broke the Utah Jazz scoring record with 41 points, a mark previously held by Darrell Griffith. The last time the Jazz had a player with at least 40 points was in 2013, when Al Jefferson posted 40 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Mitchell noted he felt the Force towards the end of the game.
The Jazz defeated the Pelicans 114-108. New Orleans had a 16 point lead at one point in the game, but Utah slashed their way back. The Jazz have now won five games in a row without some key players.
The win probability for the Pelicans when the score was 65-49 with 8:59 left in the third quarter was 91.3% according to ESPN, but in the words of Han Solo, “Never tell me the odds.”