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Founded in 1974 as a New Orleans based NBA franchise, the Jazz made the move across the country to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1979 to play as the Utah Jazz. As with most expansion teams, the first several seasons for this club were met with losing records and playoff absences. In fact, it would not be until their tenth year in the league when the Jazz would break through to the postseason despite the play of star shooting guard Pistol Pete Maravich.
That year, the 1983-1984 Jazz took a major step forward. Posting a 45-37 record, Utah won their division and headed into the postseason against the Denver Nuggets. Handling them in five games, Utah advanced to the Conference Semifinals against Phoenix. Though they would come up short, it was an important experience for the group and led to a string of playoff appearances that would run from that season straight through to 2003.
During this incredible stretch, Utah was privileged enough to see some amazingly talents players take the court. However, there were none greater than Karl Malone and John Stockton. These two Hall of Famers gave this team all that they had from the mid-1980s until 2003 under the legendary Head Coach Jerry Sloan.
Year after year, the Utah Jazz were a perennial NBA Championship contender. Often advancing to the second round of the playoffs and beyond, the Jazz were a legendary basketball force. With Malone and Stockton leading the way, the Jazz made back to back appearances in the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. Heartbreakingly, both campaigns were met with defeats at the hands of the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls. Despite the lack of a title, these teams have gone down in NBA history as some of the best ever to be assembled.
Malone was a two-time NBA MVP winner with 14 NBA All-Star Game appearances to go along with his 11 All-NBA honors. He is second all-time in points scored and holds the record for most free throws made. Stockton, meanwhile, made 10 NBA All-Star Game appearances, two All-NBA honors, and holds the NBA records for most career assists and most career steals. This tandem was absolutely incredible.
When both players left in 2003, there was a drop off in production that kept Utah from the playoffs for the next three years as they sought to rebuild. Crediting management for adapting, the Jazz headed back to the NBA Western Conference Finals in 2007 before losing out to the San Antonio Spurs. Another stretch of playoff basketball would come before another period of rebuilding.
Missing the postseason from 2012 to 2016, the Jazz have been able to regroup yet again. The 2018-2019 season saw them back in the playoffs for the third straight year. Although they were eliminated in the first round by James Harden and the Houston Rockets, there is reason to be hopeful when it comes to this young squad. A roster featuring the likes of Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joes Ingles, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert (who was the Defensive Player of the Year last season) has Head Coach Quin Snyder very optimistic for the future. Look for this group to be back next season with ferocious tenacity.
A rich history with some incredible players, the Utah Jazz are a premier NBA franchise. Among the greatest to have set foot on the court for this organization are John Stockton, Karl Malone, Pete Maravich, Adrian Dantley, Jeff Hornacek, Rudy Gobert, Mark Eaton, Donovan Mitchell, and Andrei Kirilenko. Click here for additional information about the Utah Jazz organization.