WATN_Larry_Krystkowiak

LARRY KRYSTKOWIAK (1992-93)

Krystkowiak was acquired on June 24, 1992, along with guard Jay Humphries, in what was a controversial deal at the time that sent popular swingman Blue Edwards, guard Eric Murdock and a first-round draft choice to Milwaukee.

He may have spent only one season in a Utah Jazz uniform, but Larry Krystkowiak has fond memories of playing here in Salt Lake City.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to be here for that year.”

Krystkowiak was acquired on June 24, 1992, along with guard Jay Humphries, in what was a controversial deal at the time that sent popular swingman Blue Edwards, guard Eric Murdock and a first-round draft choice to Milwaukee.

Krystkowiak appeared in 71 games and averaged just over seven points and slightly less than four rebounds in just over 19 minutes per game as a Jazzman. “It was a solid team that season with John Stockton and Karl Malone, two Hall of Fame guys, with a good supporting cast.” The team went 47-35 and was ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Seattle SuperSonics. Krystkowiak appeared in just one playoff game and saw just eight minutes of action. He had missed the last three weeks of the regular season due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

He says he enjoyed playing for coach Jerry Sloan. “I thought he was a man of few words, but he was a great coach and that has been proven by being able to stay in one spot for so long. He is, obviously, doing something right.”

Krystkowiak left Utah after one season and signed with the Orlando Magic as a free agent. Overall, he spent parts of nine injury-plagued seasons in the NBA with San Antonio, Milwaukee, Utah, Orlando, Chicago and the L.A. Lakers. He spent four seasons in a Bucks uniform, with his best season coming in 1988-89 when he averaged career highs of 12.7 points and 7.6 boards. 

The former Jazzman is currently in his first season as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. He spent the previous two years as the head coach at his alma mater, the University of Montana. Krystkowiak, who was an Academic All-American as a player, took his team to the NCAA Tournament both years and picked up the first tournament win for the school in 31 years as the 12th-seeded Grizzlies upset fifth-seeded Nevada 87-79 at the Huntsman Center, before falling to Boston College in the second round. He said it was “awesome” to take his alma mater to the “Big Dance” on two occasions. “As a player, we had good team for all four seasons, but we never made it. It’s going to be one of those deals where they will all get together as a group 10, 20, 30 years from now and always have that very positive experience to smile about.”

It wasn’t as tough a decision to leave Montana for Milwaukee as one might think.  “I spent five years with the Bucks, so the organization feels like a second alma mater to me.”  He felt that he was ready for something different after doing what he wanted to do at Montana. “I wasn’t beating the pavement for a new job, but felt this was a great opportunity.”

After leaving the NBA, Krystkowiak was an assistant coach at Montana (1998-2000), Old Dominion (2001-02) and Norfolk Collegiate High School (2002-03). His first head coaching job was with the Idaho Stampede (then of the CBA), and led them to a franchise best 37-16 record during the 2003-04 season.

He first thought about coaching late in his playing career. “With as many knee injuries as I had, I would pay close attention to my coaches and take things they did and put them into a mental file like ‘I’d like to do this that way or I would never treat anybody this way.’” 

His original plan, though, was to go back to school, get his degree and get into the “real world” of business. But his heart kept calling him back to basketball. “Why try to fool yourself. This is what I know and this is what I love to do.” With that, he had an opportunity to be an assistant at Montana. 

Krystkowiak smiles when he talks about the influence of Coach Sloan in his style. “Jerry would never know it, but I loved his demeanor. He doesn’t wear anybody out with a lot of words, but when he opens his mouth, what he says is valid and you’d better be listening to what he is saying. I like his hard driving style and having played under a number of different coaches, I enjoyed being underneath him.”

After three seasons as a head coach, there is a little bit of an adjustment for him as an assistant. “When the horn sounds, my first thought is to get the clipboard and get ready and then it’s ‘Oh yeah, that’s right, I don’t do that anymore.’ It is more palatable because coach (Terry) Stotts understands the game and allows all of his assistants to give input in what the Bucks are trying to do.” He adds that being an assistant has allowed him to recharge his batteries. “It’s like going back into observation mode instead of being in the middle of the frying pan.”

He says he would like to get back to being a head coach, but it has to be the right situation whether it’s in the NBA or in college basketball. “I certainly don’t think many assistants want to make a career out of being an assistant. I know I don’t, but I know there’s a lot to learn at this level. It’s kind of what you preach to your players all the time. You just need to focus on what you can control and try to get a little better every day, learn something and wake up tomorrow and do the same thing and eventually, you’re going to be in a position to make a choice. When you get the chance to make a choice, that means that you’re doing something right.”

At his current pace, it looks like Larry Krystkowiak will get the opportunity to make a choice in the very near future.

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