By R. Behar
The Utah Jazz are a small-market NBA team based in Salt Lake City. It can be said that the Jazz are not a household NBA franchise such as the Celtics or the Lakers, but this team has had its memorable moments from battling with Michael Jordan’s Bulls to more recently actively challenging the powerhouses of the western conference. Without delay let’s get into their history!
The team started off as the New Orleans Jazz in 1974 highlighting the city’s rich musical culture. Eventually the team would move to Utah struggling to achieve any success during the 1980’s. The Jazz’s first playoff appearance took place a staggering 10 years after the teams’ creation. The early years of the team weren’t so interesting but, the jazz did put on a good show. They had a true showman in arguably one of the best passers ever, Pete Maravich. “Pistol Pete” as he was called was known for his flamboyant playing style who through his flashy moves and decorative playmaking became a household name. The Jazz’s success was not reminiscent of their star player’s skills, however. They did not manage to make the playoffs any of the seasons that Maravich acted as an all-star. Their glory days were still to come.
Utah’s breakthrough would come in the mid to late nineties when the point-guard and power-forward duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton shocked the league. The powerhouse duo managed to snatch the second all-time points record and all time assists record. Together they were destined to finally bring some success to the Jazz. Unfortunately, it would not be that easy. The Jazz’s coveted star team was playing during the Michael Jordan era. To win they would have to beat the greatest of all time. The Jazz indeed managed to reach the 1996-97 NBA finals to finally lose to Jordan’s Bulls. In 1997-98 the Jazz would have their last chance in redeeming the embarrassment of the previous season and beat Jordan. They managed to keep Jordan’s bulls at a 3-2 advantage. Game 6 would be in Utah but the hopes and dreams of Jazz fans were soon to be crushed. A Jordan buzzer beater over Byron Russell gave the Bulls and Jordan their sixth championship. Till this day the Utah Jazz have not managed to return to the finals; they are one of the only franchises with no championships.
The last couple of seasons however has displayed glimpses of a potential title contending team. Led by Donovan Mitchell and Frenchman Rudy Gobert, the Jazz managed to secure the first place on the western conference with a total of 52 wins in the 2020-21 season. This success hopefully transfers to their postseason performance as fans would like to see more small-market teams and underdogs like the Jazz make it further into the playoffs.