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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / January 20.
  • My Dear Old Friend Jazz

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    EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m going to leave this parked at the top of the blog for a while. Check below for basketball news.**

    In May of 1994 I was living in Bridgeport, Conn., and my friend, Kim, had a dog that had given birth to nine puppies.

    I had just come off a relationship with a woman who had a regal old Golden Retriever named Rusty, whom I had grown attached to.

    Though I had always grown up with (black) cats around my house, I thought it was time for me to get my own dog. I was 25 at the time.

    So one of the puppies became mine and I named her Jazz after Kim’s brother’s dog. He and I were good friends from high school.

    Back then I could hold Jazzy in one hand, she was so small. She had a friendly, gentle nature and a distinctive white streak down her tan back that made her instantly recognizable.

    I remember when I first brought her to see my parents, there was some trepidation on their part. This is going to be a lot of work, are you up for it?

    Over the last 15-and-a half years, Jazzy became my sibling, my travel companion and my best friend.

    She saw me evolve from a bachelor with little direction in my life living in Connecticut to a married father of two with a career living in Manhattan.

    Jazz lived to spend many great years with my wife, Jen, and my children, Grace (4) and James (1).

    Wednesday was the last day of Jazz’s glorious life and she will be dearly missed by everyone in my family and everyone who knew her.

    It was a very sad day, but it was time.

    Now we are left with memories and pictures of our dear old friend.

    Here are a few of those memories:

    **When I was living in Bridgeport, I once left Jazz and my belongings in my truck for a few minutes while I went into a store. Once I came out, my truck was gone and nowhere in sight. Someone else had parked in my spot.

    “Did you see where my car went?” I asked the owner of the other car.

    “No,” he said.

    For 24 hours my friend Abby and I walked around Bridgeport, putting up signs and asking if anyone had seen the car or the dog. We called the police and waited anxiously overnight. Finally, the next morning the police called and said, “We found your car and the dog is in it.”

    At that point I couldn’t have cared less about the car or all the stuff in it — clothes, CD’s, skis. I just wanted Jazz back.

    Turns out some kids had taken the car for a joy ride and left it in some alley. Luckily, hardly anything was missing from the car at all and Jazz was unharmed. They could easily have let her out somewhere and I probably never would have seen her again. My life would have been much different, and so would the lives of my parents, who grew very attached to Jazz.

    Thank God that dog was in the car that day. That was a blessed event.

    **For 15 years, Jazz rode in my back seat to and from a million Frisbee tournaments. One time I tied her up with Ultimate legend Ken Dobyn’s dog at a tourney in Philly. Perhaps Jazz incited a fight, I don’t know, but Ken’s dog Poppy ended up biting off a small chunk of Jazz’s ear. Ken helped me find the nearest vet but the piece of her ear couldn’t be reattached. So she went forward with a tiny chunk of flesh missing from her ear. Over the years, you could hardly notice it.

    **During her younger years, I would let Jazz run loose at summer league games or tournaments at SUNY Purchase. She would sprint off into the woods after squirrels or rabbits and sometimes go missing for an hour or two. Usually I would be left standing in the dying light of summer yelling out her name while my fellow Ultimate players looked at me like I was nuts. And invariably she ended up running out of the woods partially covered in mud, sometimes hauling her prey with her.

    **One time at New York Ultimate practice in Scarsdale, Jazz returned to the field with some kind of animal (a squirrel maybe?) in her clutches. The poor animal was half dead, half alive, still moving. My teammate Jay Dono mercifully put the animal out of its misery. But the legend of Jazz the hunter grew.

    **When I was away on trips or working for stretches of time, my dear parents would watch Jazz in Crugers, N.Y. My father loved taking Jazz for walks near the Hudson River at George’s Island. Jazzy loved to jump in the water and swim out toward the geese. She smelled of the river when she returned but she was never happier.

    The house is quiet and empty now without her. And maybe we’ll get another dog some day. But Jazz will always be with us in our hearts and we will probably sprinkle her ashes near the Hudson, where Jazzy ran freely, a big smile on her face.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.