Utah governor Gary Herbert declared January 31st to be Jerry Sloan day. For Utah Jazz fans, given the ceremonies that will transpire that day, it was already going to be Jerry’s day. From the sound of things, many Jazz legends will be in town to help honor the Dean of Coaches. It’ll be a night to remember.
There is also a little matter of a game to be played that evening, against the Golden State Warriors. While the Warriors are a formidable opponent as is, Utah’s recent track record in games where Jazz luminaries have been honors is less than stellar. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
John Stockton, November 22, 2004
New Orleans Hornets 76, Utah Jazz 75
It was a day for of tributes to #12, including the unveiling of the statue on the southeast corner of the then Delta Center premises. The halftime ceremony was emotional and memorable, at Jazz fans showed through their applause, signs and yes, tears, that few are as beloved in franchise lore than John Stockton.
The game was quite the opposite. It was a low-scoring eye sore. Under the helm of Byron Scott, the Hornets entered the game 0-8. The Jazz must not have been aware of that, as they fell down 48-33 at halftime and despite a nice second half push, ultimately fell short thanks to a 12-point dud of a fourth quarter (even though they held the Hornets to 11). New Orleans were led by the illustrious group of Jamaal Magloire (20 points, 11 rebounds), Lee Nailon (16 points), Darrell Armstrong, P.J. Brown and David Wesley. Even some guy named Junior Harrington got in on the action. Take a look at this box score.
Andrei Kirilenko did all he could to help get a win for his former teammate with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. Carlos Boozer (2-10) and Mehmet Okur (4-12) struggled and Carlos Arroyo, Stockton’s successor had an un-Stocktoneque seven assists and six turnovers. Howard Eisley, who worked in tandem with Stockton for years, chipped in eight points.
Karl Malone, March 23, 2006
Washington Wizards 109, Utah Jazz 97
When Stockton retired, the Mailman made a quick detour to the Los Angeles Lakers for a season before calling it good. As a result, Karl Malone’s big night was a few seasons later. It too was a tremendous evening as the greatest power forward in the game was fittingly honored for his contributions on and off the court. His statue joined John’s outside.
Once again, however, the Utah Jazz roster played uninspired ball despite the occasion. The Wizards, led by the potent trio of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, blistered the nets for 16 3-pointers on 25 attempts. The threesome combined for 85 points, almost defeating Utah by themselves. The prolific scorer Jared Jeffries actually added nine points, while Andray Blatche did not play.
For the Jazz, Boozer led the way with 30 points and nine rebounds, while Kirilenko added 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Young Deron Williams had 14 points and nine dimes. The Jazz bench was comprised of Keith McLeod, Milt Palacio, Devin Brown, Jarron Collins and Kris Humphries.
Adrian Dantley, April 11, 2007
Denver Nuggets 115, Utah Jazz 106
Adrian Dantley will forever be remembered for his remarkable scoring abilities. AD had the full repertoire of offensive moves. His craftiness allowed him to dominate, despite giving up a lot of height on most of his defenders. He was also known for his off-court issues and discord with the Utah Jazz management. After decades, the two parties buried the hatchet and #4 was retired. Dantley was then an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets and not only did his long-awaited evening occur, but the Nuggets came away with the win.
Denver’s starters, paced by Carmelo Anthony’s 32 and Allen Iverson’s 22 had 102 of their 115 points. Matt Harpring led the Jazz with 31 points off the pine. DWill had 18 points and 14 assists and Boozer had 19 points, 14 rebounds and eight dimes.
Larry H. Miller, April 14, 2010
Phoenix Suns 100, Utah Jazz 86
Owner Larry H. Miller’s passing was a difficult time for the fanbase; Miller had meant so much and had been the constant for the franchise for 25 years. When he died, it left a hole that is still felt. Utah retired number #9 for LHM – his softball number – into the rafters and renamed the court at EnergySolutions Arena in his honor. The fans chanted his name throughout the game.
The game went on to be one of the most controversial in recent Jazz history. Utah had the chance to secure homecourt advantage with a win. Instead, Phoenix came in and completely dominated the game, with several of their headliners not even been needed in the fourth quarter. Two lightning rods for Jazz fans, Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko, both sat out with dubious injuries. Given their histories, their missing the biggest game of the year is something Utah faithful will always remember. The Jazz did go on a nice run in the playoffs, defeating the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
Williams had 24 points, but shot only 5-17. Mehmet Okur played his heart out with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but both he and fill-in starter Paul Millsap encountered foul trouble. The Jazz bench only registered 13 points compared to Phoenix’s 50.
Recent history shows that these special evenings, while thrilling off the court, don’t always translate on it. Friday will be yet another chance for the Jazz to win on a ceremony night, this time for Jerry Sloan.
Here is a history of the other retired Utah Jazz numbers and how the team did those particular evenings:
Pete Maravich, December 14, 1985; Utah Jazz 114, Houston Rockets 100
Frank Layden, December 9, 1988; Dallas Mavericks 98, Utah Jazz 89
Darrell Griffith, December 4, 1993; Utah Jazz 122, Charlotte Hornets 108.
Mark Eaton, March 1, 1996; Utah Jazz 99, New York Knicks 88