Utah Jazz: Key Players, Coaches, and NBA Results
Utah Jazz History and Highlights.
The team started in 1974 as the New Orleans Jazz. Pete Maravich was the star of that team and was one of the fan favorites of that time. However, despite his fantastic talent, the Jazz did not see any Playoff basketball in New Orleans, and after five seasons, they moved to Utah.
In the early 1980s, the Jazz added the great scorer Adrian Dantley. They also drafted Dominique Wilkens in 1982, but didn’t want to come to Utah, forcing the Jazz to trade him.
First Playoff Appearance
Utah Jazz finally made their first playoff appearance in 1983, and things started to look better. After that season, the Jazz drafted point guard John Stockton who will spend 19 seasons with the team and become the assists leader in the league’s history.
A year later, the Jazz drafted Karl Malone, who would become the second-best scorer of all time, with only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ahead of him on the all-time list.
The Stockton-Malone Duo
Stockton and Malone will soon become the best duo in the game. Stockton was a great playmaker, and Malone was one of the strongest players in league with a sweet mid-range jump. Stockton and Malone will take the pick-and-roll play to perfectionism, and the Jazz will be one of the best teams in the league for the next decade and a half.
During the 1988-89 season, Frank Layden stepped down as head coach of the Jazz after the first 17 games. Jerry Sloan then stepped in to fill Layden’s shoes and spent the next 23 years as the Utah Jazz’s head coach.
The Utah Jazz looked like a title contender early in the 1990s and reached the Western Conference Finals in the 1991-92 season. However, they lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in six games.
After losing in the opening round the following season, the Jazz went back into the conference finals in the 1995-96 season but lost to the Seattle Supersonics in seven games.
In the 1996-97 season, the Jazz finally made a step further and advanced to the NBA Finals, facing Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Karl Malone was the MVP that season which was extra motivation for MJ, and he led the Bulls to a 4-2 win over the Jazz.
Utah was back to the finals the following season facing the Bulls again, but the outcome was the same – Bulls in 6.
Heading into the 2000s, Malone and Stockton stayed together playing for the Utah Jazz for a full five seasons. But the team still couldn’t go deeper than the second round.
End of the Malone-Stockton Duo
Then, in 2003, Malone decided to search for his chance to win an NBA championship elsewhere, leaving the Jazz for the Lakers. Stockton retired the same year.
With the best duo in the team’s history now gone, the Jazz started the rebuilding process.
The Carl Boozer and Deron Williams Duo
By 2005, the Jazz had another tandem to fill the Stockton-Malone gap. They brought power forward Carlos Boozer in 2004 and, the following year, drafted point guard Deron Williams.
They formed a great duo, and the Jazz also had wingman Andrei Kirilenko at the time. The team was back in the playoffs after three years, and in 2007, they reached the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. However, the team didn’t have any significant success in the following season.
The Modern Era
By 2011 both Boozer and Williams were gone. Six years with only one playoff appearance followed.
In 2013, the Jazz selected French center Rudy Gobert with the 27th pick. Gobert became the best defensive player in the league, winning the DPOY three times in his career.
In 2017, the Jazz acquired Donovan Mitchell and looked like a contender again. However, while Mitchell and Gobert were great individual players, they didn’t work well together. As a result, after a couple of early Playoff exits, the Jazz traded Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2022 offseason.