The Utah Jazz Play to Hear the Sweet Sound of an NBA Championship

Have you ever wondered why the Utah Jazz is named as such? New Orleans, Louisiana was the birthplace of jazz, right? In fact, the NBA squad, the Utah Jazz, was originally the New Orleans Jazz. The Jazz played in New Orleans from 1975-1979. When the team moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, it retained the original team name.

Here are some interesting facts about Utah:

• Utah’s name originates from the Ute Native Americans
• Utah’s nickname is the “Beehive State”
• The state bird is ironically the California Sea Gull
• The Utah state flag contains a beehive, which symbolizes diligence
• Major industries include farming, mining, natural gas, oil, and steel production

The Utah Jazz’s premiere season in the NBA included some sour notes. They lost their first game to the Portland Trailblazers, and ended the season with 24-58 record. Although the Jazz’s first season was disappointing, they were beginning to create a solid foundation on which to build the franchise.

Less than two decades after entering the NBA, the Jazz’s team was playing sweet music. In particular, the duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone created one of the best one-two punches in the league. In 1996-1997, the Jazz earned a franchise-best 64-18 during the regular season.

The Jazz would glide through the playoffs. They sank the Los Angeles Clippers (3-0), drowned the Los Angeles Lakers (4-1), and eliminated the Houston Rockets in a war (4-2). In the NBA Finals, the Jazz faced Michael Jordan and the mighty Chicago Bulls. Though the Jazz played the Bulls closely, the Bulls overpowered them and won the series (4-2).

Having established a solid team, the Jazz would play all the right notes during the next regular season, finishing with an outstanding 62-20 record. In the playoffs, the Jazz would battle back to shoot down the Houston Rockets (3-2), unseat the San Antonio Spurs (4-1), and then drain the Los Angeles Lakers (4-0).

Many NBA experts chose the Utah Jazz to end the Bulls’ five-championship dynasty. However, the Jazz fell behind in the series 3-1, and never recovered. In Game 6, Michael Jordan willed the Bulls to victory and a 4-2 series win.

How have the Jazz fared since their last trip to the NBA Finals? While they have made seven playoff appearances and won three division crowns, the farthest they have advanced was to the Western Conference Finals (2007).

Throughout their history, the Jazz have retired the jersey numbers of seven players:

Adrian Dantley – #4 (Forward): 1979-1984
Mark Eaton – #53 (Center): 1982-1993
Darrell Griffith – #35 (Guard): 1980-1991
Jeff Hornacek – #14 (Guard): 1993-2000
Karl Malone – #32 (Forward): 1985-2003
Pete Maravich – #7 (Guard): 1974-1980
John Stockton – #12 (Guard) 1984-2003

It is inevitable that some of these players will also enter the basketball Hall of Fame.

While the Utah Jazz has earned two trips to the NBA Finals, it has not completed its song. Use Utah Jazz merchandise to cheer on the team to the sweet sound of an NBA Championship!

Rick Grantham
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