Retired Uniform Numbers
(1) Frank Layden
(7) Pete Maravich
(14) Jeff Hornacek
(35) Darrell Griffith
(53) Mark Eaton
New Orleans Jazz 1974-79
Utah Jazz 1979-Present
1974-75: New Orleans's First Player Has Local
1975-76: Maravich Leads As Team Improves
1976-78: Elgin Baylor Takes Over As Head
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
1983-84: Dantley Makes History; Jazz Make
1984-85: John Who?
1985-86: "The Mailman" Delivers A Winning
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
1994-95: Playoffs Again Problematical
1995-96: One Game Away
1996-97: Fine Tuned Squad Finds Way To
1997-98: Jazz and Blues: Terrific Season Ends in
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
1992-93: A "Dream" For Malone And Stockton, A Nightmare For The
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
1997-98: Jazz and Blues: Terrific Season Ends in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.