NBA - NORTHWEST
Arena: Vivint Arena
Coach: Quin Snyder
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
Utah Jazz Summary
The Utah Jazz have been one of the most consistently competitive teams in the NBA over the past four decades, making the playoffs in 30 of the past 38 seasons. The Jazz continues to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference today, but they are yet to win an NBA title.
The 2021-22 squad is led by All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and is hoping to advance to the conference finals or beyond for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign. The Jazz are the defending Northwest Division champions and had the best record in the NBA in the regular season last year as well.
Utah Jazz History
The Jazz were originally formed in New Orleans as an expansion team in 1974, though the team never made the postseason in its original home before moving to Utah prior to the 1979-80 season. The team struggled in its early years in its new home as well, missing the postseason for four straight years before finally making the playoffs for the first time in 1983-84.
Head coach Frank Layden won NBA Coach of the Year that season, as the team won its first division title. Utah continued to build a perennial playoff team in the 1984 and 1985 drafts, taking guard John Stockton and forward Karl Malone, who would lead the team to great heights in their long illustrious careers with the franchise.
Despite making the postseason each year, the Jazz didn’t reach the Western Conference finals until 1992, when they lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. Jerry Sloan had taken over as head coach in 1988-89, and he continued to push the team to continued success, as it also made the conference finals in 1994 and 1996, only to fall short of the NBA Finals.
The team finally broke through in 1996-97, with Malone winning the league MVP and Utah finishing with the best record in the Western Conference. The Jazz topped the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals in six games to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time, though they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games.
Utah returned to the championship series the next season as well, and once again, it faced the Bulls. Unfortunately, the Jazz also once again lost to the Bulls in six games.
Malone won the NBA MVP award again in 1998-99, but the team couldn’t reach the same success, failing to make the conference finals in any of the next five seasons before missing the playoffs altogether in 2003-04. The team retooled, and after missing the postseason in three straight seasons, the Jazz made the Western Conference finals in 2006-07 behind the play of Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko. Utah lost to the San Antonio Spurs in five games, marking the last time the team reached that point in the postseason.
Three straight playoff losses to the Los Angeles Lakers followed, and midway through the 2010-11 season, Sloan resigned after 21-plus seasons with the franchise amid rumors of conflicts between him and his players. Two weeks later, Williams was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and the team missed the postseason.
After missing the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons, the Jazz returned to the postseason in 2016-17 behind the play of Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert and Joe Johnson. The 2017 NBA Draft brought guard Donovan Mitchell to the team, and Utah has been in contention for the Western Conference ever since, reaching the conference semifinals in three of the last five seasons.
2021-22 Key Stats
The Jazz are looking to repeat as Northwest Division titlists for the first time since 2006-07 and 2007-08, and Utah would like a better result in the postseason in 2021-22 after getting upset in the conference semifinals last season. Utah has two of the reigning individual award winners in the NBA, with Rudy Gobert winning his third Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2020-21 while Jordan Clarkson was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Championships Won by the Utah Jazz
Utah is still looking for its first NBA title, though the Jazz have played in the NBA Finals twice in their history. The team won the Western Conference title in back-to-back seasons in 1996-97 and 1997-98, losing in the NBA Finals to the Chicago Bulls each time.
The Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets in six games in the 1997 Western Conference finals, with John Stockton hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 6 to propel the team to the NBA Finals for the first time. The following season, the Jazz swept the Los Angeles Lakers to clinch their second straight conference title and a trip to the NBA Finals.
Utah has won 10 division titles in its history, with six coming in the Midwest Division and four in the Northwest Division. The Jazz won their first division crown in 1983-84, then won again in 1988-89 and 1991-92. The team won back-to-back division titles in 1996-97 and 1997-98 en route to the NBA Finals, while the 1999-00 squad also took the division title.
After moving to the Northwest Division, the Jazz won back-to-back division titles in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Utah also took the top prize in the division in 2016-17 and 2020-21.
Important Team Events
Back-to-back drafts in the mid-1980s gave the Jazz a pair of Hall of Famers who are considered among the best to ever play at their respective positions. Utah took a chance on Gonzaga guard John Stockton in 1984, making him the 16th overall pick in the draft. The following year, Louisiana Tech forward Karl Malone was taken with the No. 13 pick in the first round, and both small-school players ended up as Hall of Famers.
When Frank Layden resigned from his head coaching role with the Jazz just 17 games into the 1988-89 season, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Jerry Sloan would be a hit as his successor. Sloan had lasted less than three seasons with the Chicago Bulls in his first head coaching job before being fired, but he lasted a little longer with the Jazz. Utah’s all-time leader in coaching wins, both regular season and playoff, led the team for more than two decades and is considered one of the greatest head coaches in league history.
The battle for the top spot among all-time Jazz players is between two long-time teammates whose names will be forever linked. “Stockton to Malone” was heard so many times in the 1980s and 1990s in the NBA, John Stockton and Karl Malone will never be mentioned without the other being mentioned, putting them atop the Jazz Mount Rushmore.
Stockton finished his NBA career as the league’s all-time leader in assists with 15,806, many of them going to his power forward. Stockton helped Utah to its only appearances in the NBA Finals, was a 10-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA selection, and is also the league’s all-time leader in steals as well.
Malone finished his NBA career as the No. 2 scorer in league history, with all but one of his professional seasons being spent with Utah. The two-time league MVP was the driving force for the Jazz in their back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, is still the franchise leader in points, rebounds, free throws and minutes played, and was a 14-time All-NBA selection, with 11 first-team appearances.
Jerry Sloan is easily the choice as the top coach in Jazz history, with his regular-season win total being more than half of the victories of the franchise. Sloan was the first coach to win at least 1,000 games with one team in NBA history, though he was never named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. In his 21 full seasons as the team’s head coach, Utah missed the postseason just three times.
The only Jazz coach to win NBA Coach of the Year honors is Frank Layden, who helped Utah become a perennial playoff team when he took over the team in the early 1980s. Layden led the team to its first division title and playoff appearance in 1983-84, earning the coaching award
Frequently Asked Questions
Karl Malone scored 36,374 points in his first 18 seasons with the Jazz, the most in franchise history.
Karl Malone is the only Utah Jazz to have won the NBA MVP award, earning the honor in 1996-97 and 1998-99.
The Jazz played in the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons in 1996-97 and 1997-98, falling to the Chicago Bulls in six games in both series.
Jerry Sloan won 1,127 regular-season games as the coach of the Jazz, more than every other coach in franchise history combined.
The highest draft pick the Jazz have ever made was the No. 2 selection in the 1980 draft when they took Louisville guard Darrell Griffith.