Being a fan of the Utah Jazz isn’t something casual for Rod Peterson.
Whether it be a home or away game, you can usually find Peterson yelling at the TV or from the stands at Vivint Arena. All you have do is ask him and he’ll tell you that the love he possess for the organization runs true and deep.
So when Peterson had the opportunity to combine his professional career of being an artist with his affinity for the Jazz, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
This past 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 Jazz players with the dark mode theme in celebration of the NBA’s 75th anniversary.
“I’ve been a professional artist since about 2008-09, and 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’s become sort of a tradition for us. Basically this is just an excuse for us to do a Jazz piece and we love it.”
This wasn’t the first mural piece representing the Jazz that Rod has done at the art festival.
A few years ago, Rod did a 3D piece of Rudy Gobert dunking on Kristaps Porzingis. The piece garnered a decent amount of national attention, even being featured in Sports Illustrated.
But with the Jazz making it to the second round of the playoffs the past two seasons, Rod wanted to do something that depicted how special this team truly can be — so he did his piece about the depth of the organization.
Front and center was Utah’s three all-stars in Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley and Gobert. But flanking those three were some of the Jazz other stars in Joe Inlges, Royce O’Neale, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanović.
It’s Rod’s belief that this team, particularly with its depth and star power, have what it takes to bring Utah its first NBA title.
“I think we have all the pieces, especially if we stay healthy there’s no reason we can’t do it,” Rod said. “I think people underestimate Rudy big time, Conley as well. There are for sure some naysayers, like Shaq, but we are as built for a title as we’ve ever been.”
Being the featured professional artist at the festival, the Petersons could’ve gone with a classic masters piece that’s typically associated with these events. But instead, they elected to create a piece that represented a bond they’ve shared since they got married over a decade ago.
“I got lucky because when she married me, she also happened to be 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 jerseys of the players, but she’s not as obsessed like I am. She’s not a dweeb like me, she’ll participate but she doesn’t live for the team like I do.”
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) August 31, 2021
Rod wasn’t always a Jazz fan. In fact, it was a chance encounter by his dad that sparked the sometimes unhealthy obsession.
According to Rod, his dad Rodger used to be a lumberjack and was delivering wood one day to a customer. Upon unloading the wood out of 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 started between the two of them, all while Rodger had no idea who this giant of a man was. He turned out to be Karl Malone, fresh out back-to-back NBA championship appearances. When he returned home, Rodger began watching basketball with his son — sparking what’s become an important part of Rod’s identity and his career.