Being a fan of Utah Jazz is no casual thing for Rod Peterson.
Whether it’s a home or away game, you can usually see Peterson screaming on TV or in the stands of Vivint Arena. All you have to do is ask him and he will tell you that the love he has for the organization is real and deep.
So when Peterson had the opportunity to combine his professional career as an artist with his affinity for jazz, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
Last weekend at the Chalk the Block For Charity Utah Arts Festival in Provo, Rod and his wife Justine spent 25 hours over three days creating a mural featuring prominent dark mode-themed jazz players for celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NBA.
“I’ve been a professional artist since about 2008-09, then did my first chalk art festival about a year or two later,” Peterson said. “I did my first jazz piece four years ago and it has become a kind of tradition for us. Basically it’s just an excuse for us to do a jazz track and we love it. “
It wasn’t the first Jazz mural that Rod made at the art festival.
A few years ago, Rod made a 3D piece of Rudy Gobert dipping on Kristaps Porzingis. The play garnered decent national attention, even being featured in Sports Illustrated.
But with the Jazz reaching the second round of the playoffs over the past two seasons, Rod wanted to do something that portrayed just how special this team can be – so he did his article on the depth of the organization.
Up front and center were Utah’s three-star with Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley and Gobert. But alongside those three were other jazz stars like Joe Inlges, Royce O’Neale, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanović.
It’s Rod’s belief that this team, especially with its star depth and power, has what it takes to bring Utah their first NBA title.
“I think we have all the parts, especially if we stay healthy there’s no reason we can’t do it,” Rod said. “I think people underestimate Rudy a lot, Conley too. There are of course naysayers, like Shaq, but we’re as built for a title as we’ve ever been.
As the festival’s featured professional artist, the Petersons could have chosen a classic masterpiece typically associated with these events. But instead, they chose to create a piece that represents a bond they have shared since their marriage over a decade ago.
“I was lucky because when she married me she was also a jazz fan, so it became pretty normal for us,” Rod said. “She’s definitely a fan because she watches the games and will get some of the players’ shirts, but she’s not as obsessed as I am. She’s not a dweeb like me, she will participate but she doesn’t live for the team like I do.
– utahjazz (@utahjazz) August 31, 2021
Rod was not always a fan of jazz. In fact, it was a chance meeting with her father that sparked the sometimes unhealthy obsession.
According to Rod, his father Rodger was a lumberjack and one day delivered lumber to a customer. While unloading lumber from the truck, Rodger noticed this man watching him from behind a fence – with his whole head clearly above the 6-foot-high fence.
A conversation began between the two of them, as Rodger had no idea who this giant of a man was. It turned out to be Karl Malone, fresh out of back-to-back NBA championships. Upon his return home, Rodger began watching basketball with his son, which became an important part of Rod’s identity and his career.