BLUE EDWARDS (1989-92; 1994-95)
It's been more than 15 years since Theodore "Blue" Edwards last wore a Utah Jazz uniform. But that doesn't mean that fans forgot him.
Who could forget some of Edwards’ high-flying-dunks that left fans in the Salt Palace and Delta Center chanting “Bluuuuueeeeee”? The memory of the Jazz fans is very much still in Edwards’ head.
“I fed off the energy that they brought to the game”, says Edwards from his home in Charlotte, NC, “They got behind you not only when things were going good, but getting behind you when things were going bad in order to motivate you and stir you on.”
In 1989, the Jazz used their first round pick (21 overall) on the athletic 6-4 guard out of Eastern Carolina University. In his rookie year, Edwards played in all 82 games, averaging 8.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, all while shooting 51 percent from the field.
His solid play earned him a spot on the 1990 All Rookie Team (second team). In each of his three years with the Jazz, Edwards improved in most statistical categories. It also didn’t hurt that Edwards was playing alongside two future hall of fame players in John Stockton and Karl Malone
“Playing with John And Karl, you don’t really appreciate what they do until you are gone,” says Edwards, “when you are on another team, you see that you don’t get the open shots and passes that you are accustomed to.”
As for playing for coach Sloan?“You’re talking about a coach, who prepares you to be a better person and NBA player,” says Edwards. “Again, it’s something you take for granted.”
The Jazz dealt Edwards to the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1992 offseason. Over the next seven years, Edwards played with Milwaukee, Boston, Utah (for 34 games during the 1994-95 season), Vancouver and Miami. In his 10-year NBA career, Edwards averaged 11 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2 assists per game.
“I was really tenacious and competitive,” Edwards says of the type of player he was. “One thing that I really believed in was going out and working extremely hard and making things happen.”
In 2000, the then 34-year old Edwards took his game overseas. He signed with the Greek team Olympiakos, one of the European League’s premier teams at the time.“It was a different, but really good experience for me,” says Edwards of his European playing experience.
After one more season with a different Greek team, Dafani, Edwards officially retired from professional basketball in the summer of 2001.
Today Edwards is living in his native North Carolina, with his wife, Valerie, and twin daughters Britny and Whitny. He chose Charlotte because it is just hours away from his hometown, and he has plenty of family and friends in the area. Edwards spends the majority of his retired life spending time with his family, coaching basketball and individually training athletes.
And fortunately for him, he can do all three at the same time. Edwards has coached his daughters’ nationally-ranked AAU teams.
Although Edwards has his own style of coaching, he says he takes some of the things he learned from coach Sloan while he was a member of the Jazz.“I never really thought much about coaching while I was playing,” says Edwards. “What I really like is the teaching aspect of it. That’s why I like working with kids.”
Other than coaching, Edwards’ interests range from playing with the stock market to reading books. Since he was a Criminal Justice major in college, he likes to read mysteries.
Living in Charlotte, Edwards says he watches a lot of Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Sting or Bobcats games. Edwards will often watch the Jazz when they visit Charlotte to take on the Bobcats.
Catching Jazz games on TV is not the only way Edwards reconnects with his Utah days. He and former Jazz teammate Delany Rudd, have become close friends.
“We happen to live not far from each other,” says Edwards of Rudd, who lives in nearby Greensboro, NC. “We’re both big on the AAU circuit, with our kids. And we just call each other from time to time and reminisce about Utah.
”Besides Rudd, Edwards says does not keep in touch with many Jazz players. Occasionally, Edwards might run into Thurl Bailey and Mike Brown, both of whom have North Carolina ties.
Edwards has not been back in Utah other than being an opposing player when he was still in the league several years ago. And while he is comfortable and happy in Charlotte, he said he would definitely consider moving back to Salt Lake City, if he received a coaching opportunity.
“It would be nice to come back someday,” says Edwards, who called playing the Portland Trailblazers in the 1992 Western Conference Finals as the highlight of his career with the Jazz. “I wouldn’t mind getting into coaching or radio or TV. If an opportunity presented itself in Salt Lake, being I lived there and played there, I wouldn’t hesitate to move back.”
While his fancy dunks are put on display only at the rec center nowadays, you wonder if anyone there still chants “Bluuueeee”. If his throw-downs are anything like they were when he was with the Jazz, then who would doubt it?