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Fast Facts


Retired Uniform Numbers
(1) Frank Layden
(7) Pete Maravich
(14) Jeff Hornacek
(35) Darrell Griffith
(53) Mark Eaton

Franchise History:
New Orleans Jazz 1974-79
Utah Jazz 1979-Present




Season Recaps




The Story Of The Jazz -- A Lot Of Sweet Music
1974-75: New Orleans's First Player Has Local Flavor
1975-76: Maravich Leads As Team Improves
1976-78: Elgin Baylor Takes Over As Head Coach
1978-79: Spencer For Hire
1979-80: Can There Be Jazz In Utah?
1980-81: "Dr. Dunkenstein"
1981-83: Layden Takes Over; Better Days Are Ahead
1983-84: Dantley Makes History; Jazz Make Playoffs
1984-85: John Who?
1985-86: "The Mailman" Delivers A Winning Season
1986-88: End Of An Era: Dantley Traded
1988-89: Layden Steps Down; Sloan Steps In
1989-90: Postseason Not Kind to Jazz
1990-91: Jazz Acquire A Second Malone
1991-92: Home Sweet Home
1992-93: A "Dream" For Malone And Stockton, A Nightmare For The Jazz
1993-94: Dynamic Duo Leads Jazz To Conference Finals
1994-95: Playoffs Again Problematical
1995-96: One Game Away
1996-97: Fine Tuned Squad Finds Way To Finals
1997-98: Jazz and Blues: Terrific Season Ends in Heartbreak
1998-99: Mailman Delivers Another MVP
1999-2000: Jazz Remain Postseason Poster Boys
2000-01: Fresh Look for the Jazz
2001-02: Season of Milestones
2002-03: Stockton's Final Season

The Story Of The Jazz -- A Lot of Sweet Music

The Utah Jazz began as the New Orleans Jazz in 1974, then struggled through a decade at the bottom before emerging as perennial contenders in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The original Jazz lineup featured high-scoring Hall of Famer "Pistol Pete" Maravich, one of the most entertaining players in NBA history. In its later incarnation as the Utah Jazz, the team's main drawing cards have been scoring machine Adrian Dantley; Darrell Griffith, basketball's "Dr. Dunkenstein"; guard John Stockton, whom many observers consider the best passer in league history; and Karl Malone, a forward who has combined power and grace to become one of the dominant stars of his era.

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1974-75: New Orleans's First Player Has Local Flavor

On March 7, 1974, the New Orleans Jazz became the 18th member of the NBA in return for a $6.15-million expansion franchise fee. In a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, the Jazz acquired the flashy 6-5 Maravich as the team's first player. Aaron James was the club's initial selection in the NBA Draft, and the Jazz filled out the roster with veterans plucked from other teams in the 1974 NBA Expansion Draft. The opening lineup included E. C. Coleman, Bud Stallworth, Walt Bellamy, Stu Lantz, and Maravich. The organization hired Scotty Robertson as head coach and named future Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor as one of Robertson's assistants.

In its first NBA regular-season game, New Orleans lost to the New York Knicks, 89-74, producing a point total that remained the lowest in club history throughout the next two decades. The team then lost 10 more contests before picking up its first victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 10. With the Jazz at 1-14 on November 17 the team dismissed Robertson and hired Butch van Breda Kolff as head coach.

Maravich became the club's marquee attraction and top scoring threat. At Louisiana State he had rewritten the NCAA record books, averaging 44.2 points in his four collegiate seasons. In the pros, Maravich was a showman. He wore a signature pair of floppy good-luck sweatsocks that always appeared to need washing. He shot the ball from anywhere and everywhere. He never made a simple pass when he could make an entertaining one, so his assists regularly came from behind the back or through the legs.

The team ended the 1974-75 season with a 23-59 record, last in the Central Division and 37 games behind the first-place Washington Bullets. The fledgling Jazz actually held their own at home with a 20-21 record, but they were only 3-38 on the road. The squad stumbled through four losing months and possessed a 5-42 record at the end of January. Then, inexplicably, the Jazz rang up a 10-5 mark in February. Maravich hit for a season-high 47 points against Atlanta on February 8, and the team scored a season-high 126 points against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 19.

Maravich led the team in scoring with 21.5 points per game, and 6-8 E. C. Coleman was the Jazz's leading rebounder with 7.1 boards per contest. Aaron James, a 6-8, 210-pound rookie from Grambling, was also a key contributor, averaging 11.7 points and 4.8 rebounds. However, the rest of the New Orleans roster was in constant flux, with 22 players suiting up at one time or another during the year.

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1975-76: Maravich Leads As Team Improves

With the seventh overall pick in the 1975 NBA Draft, New Orleans selected 7-foot center Rich Kelley from Stanford. Kelley didn't contribute much as a rookie, but the 1975-76 edition of the Jazz finished out of the cellar with a record of 38-44, nine games ahead of Atlanta.

New Orleans lost its season opener to the Hawks, then ran off a six-game winning streak. But when Maravich missed 20 games in November and December, the team slumped as it relied on Ron Behagen, Louie Nelson, and Henry Bibby to provide scoring leadership. After Maravich returned he led the squad in scoring in all but eight games, including a 49-point effort against the Golden State Warriors on February 10.

Maravich earned a berth on the All-NBA First Team. His scoring average of 25.9 points per game ranked third in the NBA behind the Buffalo Braves' Bob McAdoo (31.1 ppg) and the Los Angeles Lakers' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (27.7). Veteran Otto Moore, at 6-11, and Behagen, at 6-9 but only 185 pounds, were tough on the boards, pulling down 9.8 and 8.4 rebounds per game, respectively.

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1976-77: Elgin Baylor Takes Over As Head Coach

In 1976-77 New Orleans slipped slightly to a 35-47 mark despite the efforts of Maravich, who was the league's top scorer with an average of 31.1 points per game. Although Pistol Pete was the main gunner, the team had other weapons, such as Aaron James, who averaged 10.9 points and made 10 of 11 shots in an October 30 game against the Knicks. Eleven-year veteran guard Gail Goodrich (12.6 ppg) also provided scoring and stability after coming over from the Lakers.

The Jazz changed coaches two months into the season, dismissing van Breda Kolff and elevating Elgin Baylor from his assistant coaching position. New Orleans was 14-12 at the time of the change and finished 21-35 under Baylor.

The team was inconsistent but Maravich was steady, with occasional bursts of greatness. In a February 25 win over the Knicks he set a Jazz single-game scoring record with 68 points. He also set team marks with 26 made field goals and 43 field-goal attempts in that same contest. Pistol Pete likewise set club single-season records for scoring average and field-goal attempts (2,047). He made his third appearance in the NBA All-Star Game and at season's end was selected to the All-NBA First Team. At the other end of the court, E. C. Coleman was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

New Orleans had another up-and-down season in 1977-78, finishing 39-43 and occupying the familiar second-to-last position in the Central Division. After battling to an 11-10 record through November, the Jazz went sour in December, falling to 3-10 for the month. In the new year the club turned things around to win 10 straight, but on January 31 Maravich injured his knee making a between-the-legs pass, thereby robbing the team of its most potent offensive force. He appeared in only three games for the remainder of the season and would never again play with the same abandon. With Maravich sidelined the team stumbled to an 11-18 mark during the next two months.

On April 9 the Jazz set the franchise's single-game scoring mark by pouring in 153 points in a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. However, that total is somewhat deceptive. On the final day of the season the Spurs' George Gervin was locked in a race for the NBA season scoring title with the Denver Nuggets' David Thompson. Thompson had scored 73 points in an afternoon game against the Pistons at Detroit; Gervin needed 61 for the crown. That evening nobody played much defense in the New Orleans-San Antonio game, and Gervin popped in 63 points to claim the scoring title. Maravich didn't play enough games to qualify for the title, but his average was not far behind the leaders at 27.0 points per game.

The 1977-78 season featured some sparkling individual performances by muscular newcomer Leonard "Truck" Robinson, a 6-7, 225-pound forward who went ballistic on the boards for a couple of months in midseason. On October 28 against the Phoenix Suns he grabbed 25 rebounds to match the team record shared by Otto Moore and Paul Griffin. During the next two months Robinson turned in seven 20-rebound performances, including a club-record total of 27 twice, on November 11 against the Lakers and on December 7 against the Indiana Pacers. He led the NBA and set franchise records for defensive rebounds (990), total rebounds (1,288), and rebounding average (15.7 rpg), while becoming the first Jazz player to go over 1,000 rebounds for a season. Robinson also scored 22.7 points per game and was named to the All-NBA First Team.

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1978-79: Spencer For Hire

New Orleans returned to the cellar in 1978-79 with an NBA-worst 26-56 record. The Jazz failed to produce a winning month, didn't win a single season series against an opponent, and prevailed in only four road games all year.

Some of the team's problems occurred because their best player was traded at midseason. In January the Jazz dealt All-NBA forward Truck Robinson to Phoenix for guard Ron Lee, forward Marty Byrnes, two first-round draft picks, and cash. It was bad timing, since Pete Maravich continued to struggle through his rehabilitation following knee surgery and sat out the final 21 contests of the season. New Orleans picked up Spencer Haywood from the Knicks for the final 34 games, and Haywood contributed 24.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in his stint with the Jazz.

There were a few highlights. On November 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks, Gail Goodrich set a club record with 19 assists (later broken by Rickey Green and John Stockton). And in a game against Phoenix on February 17, Aaron James hit 11 of 11 field-goal attempts to set the franchise single-game accuracy mark.

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1979-80: Can There Be Jazz In Utah?

At the end of the 1978-79 season the Jazz's ownership announced plans to move from New Orleans to Salt Lake City, Utah. Around the league the news was met with raised eyebrows and predictable jokes about taking a team named the Jazz into the staid atmosphere of Salt Lake City. Apart from the incongruity of the team's nickname, there were more serious concerns regarding whether the club could win the affection of fans previously loyal to the American Basketball Association's Utah Stars, who had disbanded after the 1974-75 season.

With Baylor out as head coach and Tom Nissalke in, the premiere Utah Jazz team didn't give fans much to cheer about in 1979-80, finishing at 24-58. The team wasn't competitive, but it began to collect the building blocks for the future. One of the most important of those blocks was Frank Layden, a portly, colorful individual who would mold the character and quality of the Jazz for the next decade. Layden, who had served the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, was asked by Jazz ownership to become the team's first general manager in Utah. By the mid-1980s Layden (who would become head coach in 1981) had transformed the Jazz into consistent winners.

In another key move before the season, Utah sent Spencer Haywood to the Los Angeles Lakers for fourth-year guard-forward Adrian Dantley. A 6-5 scoring machine, Dantley proved to be a high-powered replacement for Maravich, who played only 17 games before being waived on January 17. Dantley averaged 28.0 points for the season, ranking third in the NBA behind George Gervin and World B. Free (formerly Lloyd B. Free). Dantley also set a Jazz single-season record for field-goal percentage at .576. Still, the Jazz finished last in the league in team scoring, averaging 102.4 points per game.

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1980-81: "Dr. Dunkenstein"

The team still needed offensive punch. So with the second pick in the 1980 NBA Draft the Jazz selected College Player of the Year Darrell Griffith from the University of Louisville. Griffith, a 6-4 guard, was both a high-flying slam dunker (he was nicknamed "Dr. Dunkenstein") and a deadly three-point shooter.

In the 1980-81 season Griffith and Dantley provided a potent one-two scoring punch as they combined for 51.3 points per game. Unfortunately, that was more than half of Utah's total production; the squad averaged a franchise-low 101.2 points per game. The team improved its record slightly, to 28-54, and also managed to leapfrog over the expansion Dallas Mavericks and out of the Midwest Division basement.

For the most part, though, it was another season of waiting and hoping for a brighter future. On the positive side, Dantley made his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance and won the NBA scoring championship with an average of 30.7 points per game. On February 6 he hit for 55 points against Denver. Griffith averaged 20.6 points and was named NBA Rookie of the Year.

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1981-83: Layden Takes Over; Better Days Are Ahead

Utah struggled again in 1981-82, finishing at 25-57. After an 8-12 start Frank Layden replaced Tom Nissalke as head coach, a position Layden would hold until 1988. The team suffered through a winless March, part of a club-record 18-game losing streak, and yielded 116.6 points per game. Dantley continued to carry the team, scoring 30.3 points per game, third best in the NBA. He ranked sixth in the league in field-goal percentage (.570) and had a 53-point night on April 10 against Denver. Rickey Green, a 6-1 guard, finished sixth in the league in steals (2.28 per game) and seventh in assists (7.8 apg).

Utah owned the third overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft and wielded it well, selecting Dominique Wilkins out of the University of Georgia. But Wilkins never suited up for the Jazz; on September 2 his draft rights were traded to Atlanta for John Drew, Freeman Williams, and cash. Before he ever played a single game for the Jazz, Drew entered a drug rehabilitation program and was lost to the team for eight weeks. The Jazz also used a fourth-round pick to select 7-4, 286-pound center Mark Eaton. Eaton had been an unremarkable player at UCLA and had assumed he would continue his career as an auto mechanic.

On December 4, 1982, against the Chicago Bulls, Dantley scored 57 points, the NBA high for the season and the third-best scoring night in Jazz history. Unfortunately, only 22 games into the campaign "A. D." tore ligaments in his right wrist and missed the final 60 contests.

The absence of both Drew and Dantley unhinged the team, and it nose-dived to a 30-52 record, its fifth consecutive 50-loss season. The Jazz avoided the Midwest basement only because the division also included the Houston Rockets, who finished at 14-68.

One of the season's few positive moments came on December 7 against Portland, when the Jazz made 39 consecutive free throws to set an NBA record. Another came when Drew completed his rehab program, returned to the lineup, won the NBA Player of the Week Award for the first week of March, and averaged 21.2 points in his 44 appearances.

Of the Jazz players who endured for the whole campaign, Griffith led in scoring with 22.2 points per game. Speedster Rickey Green ended up third in the league in assists (8.9 apg) and second in steals (2.82 per game), twice recording a team-record 9 steals in a game. Center Mark Eaton finished second to Atlanta's Tree Rollins in blocked shots with 275.

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1983-84: Dantley Makes History; Jazz Make Playoffs

The Jazz turnaround began in Junre when the team selected 6-11 Thurl Bailey of North Carolina State in the first round of the 1983 NBA Draft and guard Bobby Hansen in the third round. Bailey was a key contributor as a rookie, and after nine losing seasons the Jazz (45-37) broke through in 1983-84 for the first winning record in franchise history and their first Midwest Division title. For the first time in several years the team was healthy, with seven players appearing in 80 or more games. It was also the most prolific scoring unit in club history at 115.0 points per game.

A December 17 victory against Golden State moved the Jazz into unfamiliar territory-first place in the Midwest Division. Utah finished December with an 11-2 mark, the best month in franchise history. Always formidable at home, the team built a 17-game Salt Palace winning streak that lasted until February 10, when the Jazz fell to the Knicks, 121-111.

On January 4 Adrian Dantley tied Wilt Chamberlain's all-time NBA record by making 28 free throws (in 29 attempts) against Houston. He was picked to start in his fourth All-Star Game in five Jazz seasons. Rickey Green was also selected to the West team. On February 14 Green set a club record with 20 assists against Atlanta. (The mark would stand until 1987, when John Stockton dished out 22 in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers.)

Dantley became only the fourth player in league history to sink 800 free throws in a season; he made 813 of his 946 attempts, both all-time franchise marks. As an indication of their versatility, the Jazz became the first team to have four players win NBA statistical crowns: Dantley in scoring (30.6 ppg); Green in steals (2.65 per game); Mark Eaton in blocked shots (4.28 per game); and Darrell Griffith in three-point percentage (.361). Thurl Bailey was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team, while Dantley, who returned from a wrist injury, was named the league's Most Improved Player (the award was then called Comeback Player of the Year). In addition, Frank Layden was named NBA Coach of the Year.

The Jazz clinched their first-ever playoff berth by winning the Midwest Division. They needed five games to get past the Denver Nuggets in the first round, but then fell to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals.

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1984-85: John Who?

Utah's astute move in the 1984 NBA Draft would put the franchise on a winning path for more than a decade. With the 16th pick overall the Jazz selected little-known 6-1 guard John Stockton of Gonzaga University. Stockton joined a team brimming with promise, but 1984-85 was a minor disappointment. Dantley staged a prolonged holdout, John Drew was suspended, and the Jazz slipped to 41-41-tied with San Antonio for fourth place in the Midwest Division.

The most remarkable story for the Jazz was the continuing development of huge Mark Eaton, who blocked everything but the sun and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He won the shotblocking title and set all-time league records for total blocks (456) and blocks per game (5.56). On January 18 Eaton set a Jazz record by rejecting 14 shots in a game against Portland.

Utah faced Houston in the first round of the 1985 NBA Playoffs. Billy "the Whopper" Paultz, who had been picked up to anchor Utah's bench, tied an NBA record by appearing in his 15th consecutive postseason. The Jazz defeated the Rockets in five games despite losing Eaton to an injured right knee. Denver then blitzed Utah, four games to one, in the Western Conference Semifinals.

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1985-86: "The Mailman" Delivers A Winning Season

Prior to the 1985-86 season the second component in one of the most effective one-two combinations in league history arrived in Utah-Karl Malone. Selected by the Jazz with the 13th pick in the 1985 NBA Draft, the 6-9, 256-pound Louisiana Tech product would go on to become one of the best power forwards ever to play the game. Malone, a ferocious inside player who also loved to run the floor, proved to be the perfect complement to Stockton's tremendous passing skills.

The 1985-86 campaign got off to a rocky start. Darrell Griffith broke a bone in his foot while playing in a pickup game and was lost for the year. The team steadied itself to finish 42-40, the second winning season in team history. The Jazz advanced to the postseason but lost in the first round to the surging Dallas Mavericks.

Dantley averaged 29.8 points during the regular season, second in the NBA to Atlanta's Dominique Wilkins (30.3). Eaton lost his shotblocking crown to Washington's Manute Bol but was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. Malone, who averaged 14.9 points and 8.9 rebounds, made the NBA All-Rookie Team. And, in a dose of tradition for the young franchise, Pete Maravich was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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1986-88: End Of An Era: Dantley Traded

Utah continued to retool for the future in 1986-87. Prior to the season the Jazz traded Dantley with a couple of second-round draft choices to the Detroit Pistons for Kelly Tripucka and Kent Benson. Second-year forward Karl "the Mailman" Malone took over the team's scoring lead (21.7 ppg), and John Stockton and Rickey Green each had productive seasons while sharing point guard duties. The result was a respectable 44-38 record, second to Dallas in the Midwest Division and good enough to earn the Jazz a fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Optimism ran high when Utah won the first two games of a best-of-five playoff series against Golden State, but the Warriors surged to win the next three and take the series.

The 1987-88 edition of the Jazz was a young but maturing unit with several distinctive talents. The team lacked depth, but the starting lineup was good enough to forge a 47-35 record, the best in club history at the time. Utah struggled during the first half of the season and actually had a losing record in February, but the Jazz began to click after the All-Star break, going 11-5 in March and winning the final five games of the season.

The team's success was an indication that Utah's next generation of stars was coming into its own. Karl Malone was voted to start in the 1988 NBA All-Star Game. He led the Jazz in both scoring (27.7 ppg) and rebounding (12.0 rpg), ranking among the league's top five in each category. Mark Eaton won his second consecutive shotblocking title and his fourth in five years, recording 3.71 blocks per game.

John Stockton, who finally became the team's starting point guard, broke the NBA's single-season record for assists with 1,128 (13.8 apg), surpassing the previous mark of 1,123 held by Detroit's Isiah Thomas. Stockton's effort was no fluke. Although he was a quiet, no-frills player, he was well on his way to establishing himself as one of the greatest playmakers in NBA history. In addition to leading the league in assists, Stockton ranked third in steals (2.95 per game) and fourth in field-goal percentage (.574).

A somber note for the franchise and for the NBA was sounded at midyear. Former Jazz star Pete Maravich, one of the league's most exciting players, died on January 5 at the age of 40 after suffering a heart attack while playing in a pickup basketball game.

Utah faced Portland in the first round of the 1988 NBA Playoffs. The Jazz lost the first game, then swept the next three to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. Facing the "Showtime" Los Angeles Lakers (who were on their way to repeating as NBA champions), Utah forced the series to seven games before falling by 11 points in Game 7.

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1988-89: Layden Steps Down; Sloan Steps In

The Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers dominated the Western Conference, but the Jazz seemed well positioned to become the team of the 1990s. Just 17 games into the 1988-89 season, eighth-year head coach Frank Layden resigned to become the team's president and turned over the reins to Assistant Coach Jerry Sloan, a former NBA All-Star. Sloan guided Utah to a 51-31 record and another Midwest Division title.

The 1988-89 squad was the best defensive team in Jazz history, yielding only 99.7 points per game. The defense was anchored by Mark Eaton, who matched his single-game record on February 18 when he rejected 14 shots in a game against San Antonio. The Jazz were also menacing on offense, with the combination of Stockton-to-Malone frustrating one opponent after another. Thurl Bailey contributed offensive spark off the bench, and veteran Darrell Griffith was sporadically effective.

Malone, Stockton, and Eaton represented the franchise at the 1989 NBA All-Star Game, where "the Mailman" earned MVP honors with 28 points and 9 rebounds for the West. Stockton led the league in steals and assists (13.6 apg), setting Jazz single-season records for total steals (263) and steals average (3.21 per game). Malone finished second in the NBA to Michael Jordan in scoring (29.1 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (10.7 rpg). He was selected to the All-NBA First Team and finished third in the voting for the league's Most Valuable Player Award. Eaton, who was second in the league in blocked shots and seventh in rebounding, earned his second Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The Jazz entered the postseason expecting to challenge the defending NBA-champion Lakers. Instead, Utah fell apart and was eliminated in the first round by an unconventional Golden State Warriors team that featured Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond.

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1989-90: Postseason Not Kind to Jazz

Utah's trend of starring during the regular season and stumbling during the postseason continued in the 1989-90 season, in which the Jazz rocketed to a 55-27 record. It was the best record in franchise history and earned Utah second place in the Midwest Division, one game behind the San Antonio Spurs and rookie David Robinson. During the year the Jazz went 36-5 at the Salt Palace and notched a 19-game home winning streak.

The team sprinted out of the gate, winning seven of its first eight games. All-Star John Stockton's team record of 418 consecutive games played came to an end when he sprained his ankle on November 21 against the Minnesota Timberwolves and missed two contests. On November 27 the Jazz set an all-time team defensive mark by holding the New Jersey Nets to 68 points. On January 27 Karl Malone had the second-highest scoring night in club history when he poured in 61 points against Milwaukee (Malone missed Pete Maravich's 1977 record by 7 points).

The Jazz, however, had a history of sputtering at the end of the year, and this campaign was no different. Utah finished 5-7 in April, and the struggles continued in the postseason, as the Jazz were bumped by the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The Jazz took Game 1 by 17 points and Game 4 by 11, but Phoenix prevailed with a two-point Game 5 victory.

Despite Utah's late-season collapse, Malone was named to the All-NBA First Team for the second straight year. His 31.0 points per game ranked second in the league to Michael Jordan, and he set a franchise record for points in a season with 2,540. Stockton broke his own NBA record by dishing for 1,134 assists for an average of 14.5 per game.

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1990-91: Jazz Acquire A Second Malone

Malone, Stockton, and Thurl Bailey were all offensive standouts, but the Jazz had little else in the way of firepower. Recognizing the team's lack of depth, the front office acquired dependable shooting guard Jeff Malone in an offseason trade for Bobby Hansen, Eric Leckner, and two draft picks.

Utah put together another 50-win season in 1990-91, finishing 54-28 and tying the Portland Trail Blazers for the league's best home record (36-5). The Jazz got off to a sluggish start at 3-5, but they then took off in the right direction. The team went 19-10 through November and December and then surged to a 27-8 record through January and February. Stockton, on his way to becoming the most productive playmaker in the history of basketball, took a big step in that direction on January 15 in a game against San Antonio. In that contest he handed out an all-time franchise-record 28 assists, the third-highest total in NBA history.

The team avoided the late-season swoon that had marred recent campaigns, finishing in second place in the Midwest Division-once again a single game behind the Spurs. For the second straight season the Jazz met Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs, but this time Utah took the series in four games. Utah's momentum was short-lived, however, as Portland bumped the Jazz, four games to one, in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Stockton once again bested his NBA assists record with 1,164 (14.2 apg), reaching the 1,000-assist plateau for the fourth consecutive year. Karl Malone (29.0 ppg, 11.8 rpg) was named to the All-NBA First Team and again finished runner-up to Jordan for the league's scoring crown.

The season was the final one for 10-year veteran Darrell Griffith, who was waived prior to the start of the 1991-92 season.. It was also the final season in the old Salt Palace, as the Jazz prepared to move down the street to the Delta Center.

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1991-92: Home Sweet Home

The team made their debut in the new Delta Center with a loss to the Seattle SuperSonics and struggled in the early going, posting a 9-7 record in November. Utah then followed the solid pattern it had established during the previous few seasons, making slow but steady progress until March, which found them 20 games above .500. As usual, Karl Malone and Stockton played in the All-Star Game, and on March 14 Stockton tied a team record also held by Griffith and Kelly Tripucka when he made 5 three-pointers against the San Antonio Spurs.

For once the Jazz saved the best for last; they won their final seven games to tie the best record in franchise history at 55-27. Utah's home record of 37-4 was also a franchise best and tops in the NBA. The squad's problems, however, came on the road, where the franchise had yet to compile a winning record in its 18-year history.

Nonetheless, the Jazz dominated the Midwest Division, finishing eight games ahead of San Antonio. In the first round of the playoffs Utah defeated the pesky Los Angeles Clippers in five games. In the conference semifinals the Jazz bounced Seattle, four games to one, for the team's first-ever trip to the Western Conference Finals. But Utah finally met its match in the Portland Trail Blazers, who won the series in six games.

Stockton led the league in assists (13.7 apg) and topped the 1,000-assist plateau for a record fifth consecutive year. The eight-year veteran also led the league in steals with 2.98 per game. Karl Malone again finished second to Michael Jordan in the NBA scoring race, this time with 28.0 points per game. Jeff Malone ranked second on the team in scoring with 20.2 points per contest.

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1992-93: A "Dream" For Malone And Stockton, A Nightmare For The Jazz

In 1992-93 the Jazz slipped to a 47-35 record, failing to win at least 50 games for the first time in five years. Playing without injured center Mark Eaton for 18 games, Utah fell to third place in the Midwest Division and made a first-round exit from the playoffs courtesy of the rising Seattle SuperSonics.

After showcasing their talents to the world on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, Karl Malone and John Stockton stole the show in front of the hometown fans at the 1993 NBA All-Star Game. The Jazz teammates shared MVP honors as they led the West to a 135-132 overtime victory before a packed house at the Delta Center.

However, as a team the Jazz were a notch below the NBA's elite. Utah's players were no longer young, and they were achieving the kind of milestones that characterize long careers. In December, Karl Malone reached the 15,000-point mark and then became the Jazz's all-time leading rebounder. Eaton returned from knee surgery and blocked his 3,000th career shot, making him the second player to reach that plateau since the league made blocks an official statistic in 1973-74. Stockton won his sixth consecutive NBA assists title, reaching 8,000 for his career.

Although Utah was still a good, competitive team, it appeared as if the Jazz had missed their opportunity to grab an NBA title. The team had a pair of legitimate superstars in Stockton and Karl Malone and possessed a few distinctive role players, but couldn't wrestle the Jazz over the playoff hump.

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1993-94: Dynamic Duo Leads Jazz To Conference Finals

The 1993-94 brought improved results from a familiar formula. For much of the season it was the same old Jazz: John Stockton to Karl Malone. In the end it yielded 53 wins and the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. Along the way the club swapped Jeff Malone to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jeff Hornacek, a guard with better passing skills and a greater range on his jumper.

The Jazz won 10 straight games from late February to early March to challenge for the division title and then won 8 of 9 to finish the season. In the playoffs Utah bounced the San Antonio Spurs in four games. They needed seven games to put away the "cinderella" Denver Nuggets, who came back from a three games to none deficit. The Jazz advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three years but didn't have enough beef to contend with Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon. The Rockets, the eventual NBA champions, defeated the Jazz in five games.

For the season, Karl Malone finished fifth in the league with 25.2 points per game and topped 19,000 career points to move into 25th place on the all-time list. Stockton led the league in assists for the seventh straight season (12.6 apg)-only Bob Cousy had more consecutive campaigns (8) on top of the passing charts.

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1994-95: Playoffs Again Problematical

The Utah Jazz's 1994-95 season was marked by several significant milestones and achievements but ended in a minor key. Utah was a highly efficient unit in 1994-95, winning a franchise-record 60 games and stringing together a 15-game winning streak on the road in December and January, the second-longest such streak in NBA history. The club led the NBA in field-goal accuracy with a .512 percentage and had seven players who shot better than.500 from the field.

John Stockton became the NBA's all-time assists leader on February 1, topping Magic Johnson's total of 9,921. Stockton also led the league in assists (12.3 apg) for the eighth straight year, tying Bob Cousy for most consecutive and most total seasons leading the NBA in that category. Jeff Hornacek set an NBA record for three-pointers without a miss by canning 8 of 8 three-point baskets against the Seattle SuperSonics on November 23, and he later tied an NBA mark by connecting on 11 straight treys during a six-game span.

Karl Malone and Tom Chambers each topped the 20,000-point plateau during the season, becoming the 19th and 20th players, respectively, in NBA history to do so. Stockton surpassed Mark Eaton as the club's all-time leader in games played. Malone and Stockton played in the All-Star Game and were both named to the All-NBA First Team at season's end. Malone also finished third in the balloting for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award.

Malone said early in the season that the 1994-95 version of the Jazz was the best team he had played on. In addition to a solid starting five of Malone, Stockton, Hornacek, David Benoit, and Felton Spencer, the Jazz had some key contributors off the bench, including Adam Keefe, Antoine Carr, James Donaldson, Chambers, and Blue Edwards. Coming off a trip to the conference finals in 1994, Malone and Stockton had their sights set on a championship in 1995. On January 13, however, the team suffered a serious setback when Spencer went down for the year with a torn left Achilles tendon. Although not a superstar, Spencer was crucial to Utah's success, a big body who could hold his own against the great centers in the Western Conference.

The Jazz won 60 games, but an even more successful season by the San Antonio Spurs left Utah in second place in the Midwest Division. Seeded third in the playoffs, the Jazz were matched against the sixth-seeded Houston Rockets, the NBA's defending champions, in the first round. Without Spencer, the Jazz had no answer for Hakeem Olajuwon and lost the series in five games.

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1995-96: One Game Away

The 1995-96 Jazz team looked a lot like previous Jazz teams - a lot of scoring from Karl Malone, a lot of playmaking from John Stockton and enough contributions from everybody else to make them once again a contender for the championship.

In fact, this Jazz squad had more depth than many previous editions. Felton Spencer, Antoine Carr and rookie Greg Ostertag had size, Adam Keefe, David Benoit and Bryon Russell added versatility and Jeff Hornacek brought exceptional outside shooting.

It all translated to a 55-27 record for the Jazz and coach Jerry Sloan, who won his 400th game as Jazz coach on February 22 vs. Toronto. In leading the Jazz to their 13th consecutive winning season, Stockton and Malone continued to leave their mark on the NBA record books. On February 20, in a 112-98 win over Boston, he broke Maurice Cheeks' record of 2,310 steals, ending the season with 2,365. In April, Malone moved into ninth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, finishing the season with 23,343 points.

Stockton and Malone once again represented the Western Conference at the All-Star Game and once again played the entire season without missing a game because of injury. In a combined 23 seasons (1,886 possible games) each player had missed only four games.

Their depth, veteran leadership and chemistry appeared to benefit them in the postseason. In the first round the Jazz slipped past the Portland Trail Blazers thanks to a 102-64 pounding in the deciding fifth game. In the semifinals they got past the Spurs in six games, sending them to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in five years.

Seattle took a three games to one advantage in the series, but the Jazz rallied to force a seventh game, and was within a few missed free throws of that elusive trip to the Finals, losing 90-86 at Seattle's KeyArena.

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1996-97: Fine Tuned Squad Finds Road To Finals

In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, the 1996-97 Utah Jazz quietly destroyed nearly every team in its path, earning the best record in franchise history (64-18), a trip to the NBA Finals and a healthy dose of nationwide attention and respect that had eluded the team in previous seasons.

For the first time in their history, the Jazz posted the best regular-season record in the Western Conference, earning home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. That loomed large for the Jazz, who had advanced to the Conference Finals three times in the previous five seasons and lost each time. After a 38-3 record at the Delta Center during the regular season, the Jazz stormed past the Clippers, Lakers and Rockets in the Western Conference playoffs, winning all eight home games.

The Jazz came up with their most heroic effort at the Summit in Houston. In Game 6 of the Conference Finals against the Rockets, the Jazz clawed back from a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game in the final minute. With time for one final offensive play, Bryon Russell made the inbounds pass, Karl Malone set the pick and John Stockton buried the winning shot as time expired, sending Stockton, his teammates and the entire state of Utah into a frenzy-and sending the Jazz into the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Utah continued its home-court success against the Chicago Bulls in the Finals, tying the series 2-2 after dropping the first two games in Chicago. Game 5 would be Utah's only home loss of the playoffs, and it was courtesy of another Michael Jordan Finals special. Playing despite a stomach virus, Jordan nonetheless scored 38 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer in Chicago's 90-88 win. Utah fought hard in Game 6 but dropped a 90-86 decision, losing the series 4-2.

It was a season of milestones and record-shattering for the Jazz, who led the NBA in field goal percentage (.504), and set team records for wins (64) and home wins (38). Malone became only the fifth player in NBA history to surpass 25,000 points and 10,000 rebounds, and led the NBA in free throws. Malone and Stockton each completed another season without missing a game, extending their consecutive games played streaks to 467 and 609 respectively.

While Stockton (14.4 ppg, 10.5 apg) and Malone (27.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg) remained the top options for head coach Jerry Sloan, the Jazz relied on unprecedented depth. Russell (10.8 ppg), Jeff Hornacek (14.5 ppg) and Greg Ostertag (7.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) all started and played key roles. Reserves Antoine Carr, Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, Adam Keefe, Chris Morris and Greg Foster all contributed.

The Jazz was so happy with its chemistry, it spent the offseason resigning Anderson, Carr, Eisley, Hornacek and Russell - all free agents, and extending the contract of Ostertag, in order to take another run at the NBA title in 1997-98.

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1997-98: Jazz and Blues: Terrific Season Ends in Heartbreak

The 1997-98 Utah Jazz was a team that somehow got a year better, not a year older as many predicted. Led by the ageless duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone, the Jazz reached into the fountain of youth to post a 62-20 record in the regular season, fly past a talented, young Lakers team in the Conference Finals and earn a return engagement in the NBA Finals.

While Utah's return to the Finals wasn't a complete surprise, their season did seem in peril in October, when Stockton went under the knife to repair torn cartilege in his left knee. The 35-year-old guard, who had missed only four games in his 13 pro seasons, was sidelined for the first 18 games of the 1997-98 season.

For Stockton, the NBA's all-time leader in steals and assists, the injury meant an end to his streak of 609 consecutive games played. For his teammates, it meant persevering without their playmaker. They did so with mixed results. Utah's 5-6 start was the team's worst since 1982-83, but the Jazz won six of their next seven to improve to 11-7 in Stockton's absence.

Buoyed by Stockton's return, the overpowering inside play of Karl Malone and the continuity of having 11 players back from last year's Western Conference Champions, the Jazz went 51-13 the rest of the way.

Malone may have actually improved in 1997-98, no easy feat considering he was the NBA's MVP in 1996-97. Malone was Utah's leading scorer in 75 of the 81 games in which he played. He finished third in the league in scoring (27.0 ppg), sixth in rebounding (10.3 rpg) and was named the NBA's Player of the Week on three occasions (Nov. 17-23, Feb. 9-15, Mar. 2-8). In February, he was named the NBA's Player of the Month in February after averaging 26.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg and shooting 54.6 percent from the field.

February, though the shortest month of the year, nevertheless had a world of impact on the Jazz season. On Feb. 4, the Jazz concluded the first-half of the season by overcoming a 22-point first-quarter deficit to post a 101-93 win over the Chicago Bulls. In doing so, the Jazz became the first team in three seasons to sweep Chicago.

Two weeks later, the Jazz incurred a potential disaster when an announced trade for Orlando center Rony Seikaly fell through. Chris Morris and Greg Foster, who were both headed for Orlando before the deal was called off, were sent back to the Jazz and put in the awkward position of re-adjusting.

Oddly, the trade seemed to unite the Jazz. Utah went 27-5 the rest of the way, fending off the Lakers and the Seattle Sonics to earn homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. In the battle for Western Conference supremacy, every game mattered. In retrospect, perhaps no win was bigger than Utah's win over Golden State on April 7, in which Malone scored an NBA season-high 56 points to will Utah to a 101-99 win over an inspired Warriors team.

The Jazz entered the postseason red-hot, but were cooled off by the Houston Rockets, who took a 2-1 series lead over Utah, drawing to within a game of becoming the second No.8 seed ever to defeat a No.1 seed. Houston took a six-point halftime lead before the Jazz finally pushed back.

Utah survived the scare against the Rockets, and downed the Spurs 4-games-to-1 in a series that was much closer than the outcome. Then the Jazz surprised everyone with a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers that earned Utah a return trip to the NBA Finals and a rematch with the Bulls.

Chicago, the two-time defending champion, provided one final challenge for the Jazz, who were once again four wins away from their first championship in franchise history. With 10 days to rest their weary bones while awaiting the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Finals, Utah entered the series as the people's choice in this rematch of a memorable 1997 Finals series.

Their quest started on a positive note -- an 88-85 Jazz win -- but a stunning 96-54 loss in Game 3 put Chicago up 2-games-to-1. Chicago prevailed again in Game 4, but the duo of Malone (39 points) and Antoine Carr (12 second-half points) helped Utah post an 83-81 win, breaking Chicago's eight-game home winning streak in Finals competition.

With the series shifting back to Utah for games 6 and 7, the Jazz were poised to unseat the Bulls. A seventh game was all but clinched when John Stockton hit a three to put Utah up 86-83 in the final minute. Enter Michael Jordan. The Bulls guard spoiled Utah's plans with a key steal and two buckets, including the game-winning jumper with 5.2 seconds remaining, as the Bulls won their third straight title.

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1998-99: Mailman Delivers Another MVP

Karl Malone earned his second MVP award and Utah won the West's most exciting first-round playoff series, but the Jazz weren't able to win their third consecutive conference title.

After posting a 37-13 record in the regular season, Utah got all it could handle from the Sacramento Kings in the postseason. The Jazz won by 30 in the opener, but the Kings bounced back to steal Game 2 in Salt Lake City and win Game 3 in overtime in Sacramento.

Utah staved off elimination by winning Game 4, 90-89, thanks to a late-game scoring spree by Shandon Anderson and a game-winning jumper by John Stockton with 0.7 seconds left. The series shifted back to Salt Lake City, where the Jazz won the deciding game in overtime.

Utah's season ended in the conference semifinals as Portland took the series in six games.

Malone averaged 23.8 points and 9.4 rebounds for the season and was named to the All-NBA and All-Defensive first teams. Stockton posted 11.1 points and 7.5 assists per game and earned All-NBA Third Team honors.

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1999-2000: Jazz Remain Postseason Poster Boys

Utah opened the 1999-2000 season with four new faces, including two of their three 1999 first round draft picks, Quincy Lewis and Scott Padgett and veterans Pete Chilcutt and Olden Polynice. The Jazz opened the season with the Los Angles Lakers, losing 91-84 in the season opener on November 2, but avenged that loss with a 98-82 win over the Houston Rockets and former Jazzman Shandon Anderson two nights later.

Utah finished November with an 8-6 mark, including wins over New York, Portland and San Antonio at home, but lost at home to the Toronto Raptors for the first time, 100-87, on November 26 and went just 2-4 on the road. On November 29 against Golden State, Karl Malone passed Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list (29,277 points) to become the third-leading scorer in league history. Jeff Hornacek began a streak of 67 consecutive free throws at Sacramento on November, running until January 6, 2000, at Dallas, marking the sixth-longest streak in NBA history.

The team opened December with their worst home loss of the season, losing 100-75 to the Indiana Pacers and drop to 8-7 on the season, but recovered to go 10-3 the remainder of the month, going 5-3 on the road, including a franchise tying seven-game Eastern road trip to end with a 18-10 record, starting the new millennium. John Stockton became the 65th player in league history to score 16,000 points at Golden State on December 4, while Hornacek became the 84th player in league history to score 15,000 at Boston on December 15 and only the 19th player to record 15,000 points and 5,000 assists. Coach Jerry Sloan joined Red Auerbach (795 wins with Boston) and Red Holtzman (613 wins with New York) as the only coaches ever to win 600 games with one franchise when he led the team to a 101-90 win against Vancouver on December 29.

Utah opened the new year with four consecutive victories, winning six of the first seven games, and were eventually 9-2, capping that stretch off with a 105-101 double-overtime win over the Lakers on January 24. The team then suffered through their longest losing streak of the season, dropping six straight games (last three of January and the first three in February) ending the January 9-5. The team lost three times at home during the month, including losses to Minnesota, Seattle and an embarrassing 116-99 loss to the Vancouver Grizzlies, their first-ever loss to the expansion team (18-1). Coach Sloan became the 12th coach in NBA history to win 700 games when the team won 112-75 against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 15 and passed Don Nelson on January 8 for fourth place all-time in most games coached with one franchise at 885 at Houston.

Utah requested waivers on Pete Chilcutt on January 7 and signed veteran forward Armen Gilliam for the remainder of the season. Malone became only the third player in NBA history to score 30,000 career points, when he converted on an offensive rebound and a layup at 8:53 of the third quarter at Minnesota on January 29. The Jazz recovered from their season-long six-game losing streak to win seven of their next eight games to finish February with an 8-5 record, but with three home losses, the team was now 23-9 at the Delta Center and 12-12 on the road. NBA coaches chose Malone and Stockton as reserves for the 49th NBA All-Star Game at the Arena at Oakland, marking the 12th and 10th selections respectively for the pair. At 37 Stockton became the second -oldest All-Star in NBA history, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 41. Malone at age 36, was the sixth oldest All-Star ever. Hornacek successfully defended his championship at the AT&T Shootout during All-Star weekend and teamed with the Utah Starzz' Natalie Williams to emerge triumphant in the Sony All-Star 2ball competition, edging Jason Kidd and Jennifer Gilliom in the final round (68-61).

Utah opened March with eight straight wins and, including the last win in February, and had their longest winning streak of the year at nine. The Jazz won six consecutive road games at Detroit, Charlotte, New York, Phoenix, Chicago and Cleveland, before dropping a 99-97 decision in Philadelphia on March 17 to snap the streak. The team finished the month with a 14-2 record and a glossy 9-1 mark on the road, improving to 49-27 on the year and 21-13 away from home. Coach Sloan was named IBM Coach of the Month for guiding the team to the 14-2 mark, and Malone was named NBA Player of the Week from February 28 through March 5, guiding the team to a 4-0 over that span, averaging 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists.

The Jazz recorded their 15th consecutive winning season, second all-time, with a 87-79 win at Chicago on March 13 and 17th consecutive season at .500 of better, second all-time, with a 99-96 win at Phoenix on March 10. Utah clinched its 17th consecutive trip to the NBA Playoffs with a 96-83 win over Denver on March 21, the fourth-best streak of all-time. The team finished the regular season going 6-5 for April and ended the year with a 55-27 (.671) record, the fifth-best mark in franchise history.

The team won the Midwest Division title (by two games over San Antonio) for the fifth time in franchise history and for the third time in the last four years. The Jazz had the third-best record in the Western Conference and the fourth-best in the NBA.

"The Mailman" became the first player in NBA history to score 2,000 points in a season 12 times, and Coach Sloan joined Pat Riley (16), Phil Jackson (9) and Lenny Wilkens (9) as the only coaches ever to win at least 50 games in a season nine times. Utah's starting backcourt of Stockton and Hornacek ranked one-two among NBA guards in field goal percentage at .501 and .496, respectively. Five Jazz players (Eisley, Malone, Russell, Polynice and Stockton) played in all 82 games.

Utah opened the 2000 NBA Playoffs against the Seattle Sonics at the Delta Center, and Malone poured in a career-playoff-high 50 points to lead the Jazz to a 104-93 win and a 1-0 series lead. The Jazz won Game 2 101-87 for a 2-0 lead but let the Sonics off the hook in Seattle, dropping two games to send the series back to Salt Lake City, where the Jazz escaped with a 96-93 win to advance to the second round against Portland.

The Trail Blazers hold home-court advantage winning the first two games at the Rose Garden, then split the pair at the Delta Center for a 3-1 advantage heading back to Portland. In Game 5, Utah led 79-77 with 7.3 seconds remaining, but Scottie Pippen nailed a three-pointer for a 80-79 lead, then Byron Russell missed two free throws with 3.0 seconds left and the Jazz season came to an end.

Utah ended the 1999-2000 season ranked third in the league in three-point field goal percentage (.773), fourth in field goal percentage (.464) and ninth in free throw percentage (.385). Hornacek ended the season as the league's top free throw shooter, connecting on .950 (171 180), the third-best percentage in league history, and finished second in three-point field goal percentage (.478). Malone ended the year fifth in the league in scoring (25.5), eighth in field goal percentage (.509) and 12th in rebounding (9.5), while Stockton was sixth in assists (8.6) and 10th in steals (1.74). Malone was selected to the All-NBA Second Team, breaking a streak of eight consecutive years on the First Team.

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2000-01: Fresh Look for the Jazz

The Jazz open their 26th season with a fresh new look that includes the retirement of Jeff Hornacek and a four-team trade, involving Boston, Dallas, Golden State and Utah that saw guard Howard Eisley go to the Dallas Mavericks and forward Donyell Marshall come to the Jazz. The team also signed veteran free agents Danny Manning and John Starks along with former Jazzman David Benoit as well as welcoming 19-year-old DeShawn Stevenson, their first round pick in the 2000 NBA Draft and first ever high school player to the club. The Jazz opened the 2000-01 campaign with a starting lineup of Karl Malone and Bryon Russell at forwards, Olden Polynice at center and John Stockton and John Starks at the guards. Utah begins the season with a 5-0 record including a win at Los Angeles against the Lakers and finish the month of November with a 12-3 mark (1-0 for October), including a glossy 6-1 mark on the road. Stockton breaks John Havlicek’s NBA record for most games played with one franchise (1,270 games), at New Jersey on November 28 and goes on to play in every game during the season, for the 15th time in 17 years .

The team struggles during December going just 8-8, including an uncharacteristic 3-4 record at the Delta Center that saw the team lose to San Antonio, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Portland. On December 5 vs. Toronto, Malone moves into second place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 31,420 career points and Stockton scores the 17,000th point of his career vs. Golden State on December 9. Two games later on December 13, Stockton records the 14,000th assist of his career, adding to his all-time NBA record. Utah opens January on a 4-game losing streak, but rebounds to win 12 of the next 13 games (9-4 record for January), including a season-high eight-game winning streak from January 21 to February 13. Marshall is inserted into the starting lineup on January 6, after Russell is sidelined with a sprained ankle and responds with 20 points and 15 rebounds. He remains in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season where he averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 49 starts (9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in the 32 games off the bench). The Jazz finish February 10-2, including road wins at New York, Sacramento and Portland, standing 39-17, good for first in the Midwest Division.

Coach Jerry Sloan is named NBA Coach of the Month, marking the sixth time in his career that he has received the award. Utah goes 9-7 in March, but only 4-5 at the Delta Center and surrendered their lead in the Midwest to the San Antonio Spurs. Sloan coaches his 1,000th career game with the Jazz on March 18 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers, while Malone sets an all-time NBA record in free throws mades with 8,534 vs. Washington on March 24. Stockton moves into third on the NBA’s all-time list in games played vs. Cleveland on March 30 with 1,330 career games (trails only Robert Parish and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). After going 5-5 in the April, the Jazz hang on to fourth place in the Western Conference and host the Dallas Mavericks in the First Round of the 2001 NBA Playoffs.

The Jazz complete the regular season at 53-29, but are just 28-13 at home and finish the final two months of the season with a 14-12 record and 6-7 in the Delta Center. Stockton finishes second in the league in assists (8.7), second in 3-point field goal percentage (.462), connecting on 61-132 attempts and third in field percentage (.504). Donyell Marshall follows Stockton in field goal percentage at .503 and Malone ends the year 12th in scoring at 23.2 points.

For the 12th in his career, Malone is selected to the NBA All-Star Game and was named the All-NBA Third Team at season’s finale. Utah opens the 2001 NBA Playoffs with a 2-0 lead against the Mavericks at home winning the first game 88-86 then taking a 109-98 decision in the game two. Dallas win game three, 94-91 as Stockton’s three-pointer misses at the buzzer, then the Mavericks even the series at 2-2, blasting Utah 107-77 to set up a deciding fifth game at the Delta Center. The Jazz look to be well on their way to a second round match with San Antonio, leading 71-57 going into the fourth quarter, but manages just 12 points, being outscored 27-12 and fall ing 84-83 to be eliminated in the first round for the first time since the 1995 playoffs.

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2001-02: Season of Milestones

John Stockton opens his 18th consecutive season with the Jazz, a NBA record for most consecutive seasons with the same franchise and Karl Malone ties the record with his 17th consecutive season with the team. After a two year wait, rookie Andrei Kirilenko a first round pick in 1999, joins the team from Russia, along with newcomers John Amaechi and rookie Jarron Collins. Utah opens the season 6-11, their worst start since 1982-83, but rebound to go 10-5 in December and finish 2001 with a 16-15 mark. From January through March, the Jazz compile a 25-17 record, including an 8-3 record in February, when the team plays 9 of 11 games on the road during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The team heads into April with a 40-32 record, their high mark on the season, being eight games over .500, but go just 3-6 over the final nine games to drop from the sixth to eighth spot in the West. Utah finishes just 25-16 at home, their worst home record since going 21-20 in 1982-83, but finish a respectable 19-22 on the road. The team goes 19-11 against the Eastern Conference, but are 25-27 against the West and just 8-16 in the Midwest Division.

Along the way, Karl Malone recorded 21 milestones, including scoring his 34,000th career point and John Stockton surpassing eight milestones, including his 15,000th assist and 3,000 steal, adding to his NBA all-time records. Stockton became just the 10th player in NBA history to play at the age of 40 and proved he's still one of the NBA's elite player, finishing 5th in the league in assists (8.2), 5th in field goal percentage (.517) and 10th in steals (1.85). Malone ends the season 9th in the league in scoring, while Donyell Marshall finishes 3rd in the league in field goal percentage (.519). Kirilenko is selected to play in the Schick Rookie game during All-Star Weekend and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, marking the first Jazz player to be named to the first team since Karl Malone in 1985-86. As a team, the Jazz lose 141 games to player injuries; most notably, John Crotty 41 games due to knee surgery, Donyell Marshall 24 games with various injuries and Bryon Russell missing 16 due to a pelvis injury. Utah uses an uncharacteristic 10 different starting lineup and ends the season with two rookies in the starting lineup (Kirilenko and Collins) for the first time in team history.

The Jazz end the season seeded eighth in the Western Conference, making the playoffs for the 19th consecutive season (Second only to the Portland Trailblazers * 20 straight). Utah finishes with a 44-38 record, their worst record since the 1986-87 season (44-38) and their lowest seeding ever in the playoffs. Utah faces Sacramento, the league's best team during the regular season in the First Round and bow out to the Kings in four hotly contested games and are eliminated.

2002-03:  Stockton's Final Season

The team has a summer filled with movement that drastically changes the face of the roster. Free agents Donyell Marshall and Bryon Russell move on to other teams, but the Jazz sign Matt Harpring, Calbert Cheaney and Mark Jackson. Raul Lopez, 2001 first-round draft pick, re-injures his knee while playing for the Spanish national team and misses the entire season. Curtis Borchardt, 2002 first-round draft pick, breaks his foot in training camp and is out for the season.

John Stockton became the 7th player in NBA history to play at the age of 41, starting his 19th season with the team. The team goes through a roller-coaster season, marked by a surprise performance from Matt Harpring, who posts a career year with the Jazz, and a seven-game suspension handed down to Jerry Sloan after he bumped an official on January 28 against the Sacramento Kings. Mark Jackson became the third player in NBA history to record 10,000 career assists and moved into second place all-time on the NBA’s all-time assist list, passing Magic Johnson against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 16. The Stockton/Jackson combo combine for a staggering total of 26,031 career assists.

Stockton recorded other milestones during the season including: becoming just the third player in NBA history to play 1,500 or more games, passing John Havlicek for fifth place all-time on the NBA’s all-time minutes played list, scored the 19,000th point of his career and passed Robert Parrish for sixth place all-time on the NBA’s all-time minutes played list. Karl Malone recorded several milestones during the year including: passing Nate Thurmond (14,464 rebounds) for seventh place all-time on the NBA’s all-time rebound list, recording the 35,000th point and 36,000th points of his career, recording the 5,000th assist of his career, playing the 1,400th game of his career, recording his 52,000th and 53,000th minute played; attempting the 25,000th field goal attempt of his career and recording the 13,000th field goal made of his career.

Utah finishes with a 47-35 record, their 18th consecutive winning season and 20th at .500 or better. They qualify for their 20th consecutive playoffs and play the second-seeded Sacramento Kings. For the second-straight season. The Kings prove to be too much and win the series, 4-1.

The season-long speculation ends when Stockton abruptly announces his retirement from basketball on May 2, 2003. He plays his final game in Sacramento on April 30, 2003, and leaves the game for the final time to a rousing ovation from the Kings home crowd. His career is celebrated on June 7 with a “Salute to Stockton” at the Delta Center.

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