From "Dr. Dunkenstein" to Olympic gold medalists like John Stockton and Karl Malone, the Utah Jazz have featured players of amazing vivacity. The team has overcome many challenges throughout their history, including drastic changes to their roster, management and even location, which just goes to show how tough they truly are.
The colorful Utah Jazz weren’t always locals to Salt Lake City -- did the former purple, green and gold Mardi Gras themed jerseys give it away? In 1974, they became the eighteenth team to join the NBA as an expansion franchise based in The Big Easy. They used their new-team status to acquire legendary Pistol Pete Maravich and his lucky gray socks from the Atlanta Hawks. Supporters could always count on Maravich's flashy antics and shots from everywhere on the court to keep 'em wanting more.
Even though fans showed up for their games, the Jazz were unable to court local investors or businesses, which contributed to growing financial difficulties. However, a few years after the ABA's Utah Stars were disbanded, the club's management saw an opportunity to start fresh and made the move from New Orleans to Salt Lake City following the end of the '78-79 season. The relocation didn't supply immediate results, though: it wasn’t until after the acquisition of high-scoring Adrian Dantley from the LA Lakers that they witnessed their first sellout game at the Salt Palace arena in March of 1980. And the growing lineup gained a serious defensive advantage when the Jazz signed second overall draft pick and Sporting News College Player of the Year Darrell Griffith from the University of Louisville. Griffith, who became known as "Dr. Dunkenstein," specialized in incredible slams and effortless three pointers; he averaged 20.6 points per game that season and was awarded Rookie of the Year honors in 1981.
With huge improvements in '83-84, the Jazz became the first team ever to have four players win NBA statistical crowns. Such a versatile squad was solidified by their head coach Frank Layden, who was named Coach and Executive of the Year in 1984. Soon after, they picked up guard John Stockton and completed the killer duo with Karl “The Mailman” Malone, a game-changing power forward who never failed to "deliver."
In '90-91, the Salt Palace hosted its final season of Jazz basketball. After 16 months of fast-paced construction, the new Delta Center (now called the EnergySolutions Arena) was erected near downtown Salt Lake City. Though they were ready to revamp their reputation as well, the squad faced major changes in the upcoming years.
Following Stockton’s abrupt retirement in 2003 after setting the record for most consecutive seasons with the same team, Malone joined the L.A. Lakers as a free agent, leaving the other players to fill in the gaps. However, the Jazz pressed on to win their eighth division title in 2008.
Since then, the unit has fought hard on the court and in their community by developing Junior Jazz, the longest-running NBA youth basketball league, among numerous other programs. From vibrant New Orleans to welcoming Salt Lake City, the Utah Jazz have persevered through every drive, pass and shot because they know what really keeps a team together -- spirit and soul.