Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz history can be broken up into three sections: before Karl Malone and John Stockton, during Malone and Stockton, and after Malone and Stockton. That is how much these two players did for the franchise. The Jazz struggled early on in the NBA. They started out as the New Orleans Jazz in 1974. Early on they traded for NBA star and former local college star “Pistol” Pete Maravich. He led the NCAA in scoring average over a career, and he led the NBA in scoring one season.
The Jazz hoped he would lead them to a quick start in the league, but he had numerous injuries which limited his playing time. After five years in New Orleans, the Jazz were forced to relocate due to decline in revenue as well as struggling to find a permanent place to play their home games. In 1979 the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in Utah. They kept the name Jazz to become the Utah Jazz.

utah jazz present logo

Present logo of the Utah Jazz

The team was still struggling. They had made some bad trades in which they traded draft picks which caused them to miss out on drafting Moses Malone and Magic Johnson. They did not get much healthy talent in return for their draft picks.
Slowly, but surely the Jazz began to turn things around. They made the playoffs for the first time in 1983. Then the Stockton and Malone team would begin to be assembled. The Jazz selected John Stockton in the 1984 draft after their first trip to the playoffs. Fans did not like this selection because Stockton was largely unknown to most people. The Jazz would once again make the playoffs, improving their record.
After their second straight year in the playoffs, the Jazz selected Karl Malone in 1985. The rest is history. Stockton began to work his way up the depth chart, and Malone began to develop into one of the best power forwards in the league. The Jazz continued to qualify for the playoffs year after year, but they could not make much noise with the better Western Conference teams. In 1988 the Jazz began to make an impression. The Jazz won their first round series against the Trail Blazers. In the second round they faced the defending champion Lakers. The Jazz forced the Lakers to a game 7 which the Lakers won, but it was anything but an easy series.
After the playoffs, the Jazz began to have a new confidence about themselves. The next season they had a new coach in Jerry Sloan. Sloan would go on to develop into one of the most winning coaches in the NBA. The Jazz were ready to make a deep playoff run after finishing the season as the number 2 seed in the West. The Jazz were shocked in the first round when they were unexplainably swept by the Golden State Warriors.
The Jazz kept making subtle tweaks in their rotation. The Jazz continued to make Malone and Stockton the focal point of the team. After their disappointing first round loss in 1989, the Jazz finished again as the 2 seed in the West finishing only one game behind the Spurs for the best record in the West. Malone and Stockton both had career years for the team. The Jazz were hoping to put their first round loss behind them, but they could not forget when they lost again in the first round as the 2 seed, this time to the Phoenix Suns.
The Jazz would have a chance at revenge the next year when they again faced the Suns in the first round. They would have their revenge as they defeated the Suns 3 games to 1. The Jazz then came up against the Trail Blazers who lost in the Finals the prior year. The Blazers would use their experience to eliminate the Jazz in the second round.
The Jazz were not content, but they were glad to advance past the first round again. They would continue to be a 50 plus win team and make the playoffs in 1992. They would win 55 games and win the division. The Jazz made it past the first round for the second season in a row. The Jazz then won their series against the Seattle Supersonics for their first ever trip to the Western Conference finals. The Jazz would face the Trail Blazers yet again, and yet again they would be defeated by the Blazers.
The Jazz could not improve as a team enough to make it to the NBA Finals it seemed. That dream finally became a reality in 1997. They acquired Jeff Hornacek as a third player who messed well with Malone and Stockton. Behind the three of them, the Jazz posted the best record in the West and the most wins in their history with a 64 win season. The Jazz would then sweep the Clippers in the first round. They would lose only one game to the Lakers in the second round, and they would lose two games in the semi-finals to advance for the first time in team history to the NBA Finals.
The Jazz would face the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan. The Jazz would hold their own in the series. The Jazz and Bulls were tied two games a piece after four games. The Bulls led by clutch play of Michael Jordan would win the next two games by only a few points each time to defeat the Jazz in the Finals.
The Jazz would not make any changes to their team during the off season. Despite an injury to Stockton, the Jazz still finished with more than 60 wins for the second consecutive year. The Jazz found themselves facing the Bulls in the Finals yet again. The Jazz hoped to overcome Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the Finals. The Jazz won the first game of the Finals. They could not hold on to the series though. Jordan would end the series in game 6 with one of the most memorable game winning shots in NBA history. The Jazz like every other team before them, failed to defeat Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the Finals.
The Jazz continued to play well, but they could never return to the Finals under Malone and Stockton. The two played with the Jazz until 2003 keeping the Jazz in the playoffs each season. After the two franchise players left, the Jazz ended up just missing the playoffs for the first time in twenty years. The Jazz would struggle for a few seasons until they Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer began to improve. The point guard and power forward combination began to revive hopes of the Stockton and Malone days.
Williams and Boozer would lead them to be a regular playoff team, but they could never make it past to the NBA Finals, and they only made it to the Western Conference finals once. The team began to fall apart in 2010 when Boozer decided to take his talents to Chicago to play for the Bulls. Before the trade deadline, the Jazz also traded their All Star point guard Williams to the New Jersey Nets. The Jazz missed the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 2006. The Jazz are currently in the playoff hunt in the very close Western Conference. The Jazz are currently a team built to make the playoffs as one of the lower seeds, but they do not have the personnel to make a deep playoff run.