The question for the No. 14 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, Kris Humphries, was whether he was surprised about being picked by the Jazz.

To which he replied: "I was just so happy, but that's the only emotion I can give you — just joy and happiness. Going to a great team like that, and being in the city of Utah, in front of great fans."

Maybe it was a sign.

Nineteen years after the original crime, the Jazz drafted another geographically challenged power forward.

Still delivering to the wrong address.

On June 18, 1985, then-Jazz coach Frank Layden stepped to the podium at the Salt Palace and said with a flourish: "We're gonna bring a Mailman to Utah."

The crowd cheered boisterously.

Malone was young and a bit nervous when asked by an interviewer about the prospect of playing for the Jazz, who had taken him with the 13th pick. Malone replied he was pleased to play "in the city of Utah."

The remark brought snickers from the locals, who liked to think the state's biggest city was at least on the map. Or not.

Jazz president Dennis Haslam wasn't with the team then, but he does remember Malone's remark.

"It was a bit of a laugher," he said.

So it has come full circle, hasn't it?

As a rookie, Malone chose No. 32 as his number. In 2004, another 6-foot-9 power forward was drafted, who wore No. 32 in college.

Even his college coach referred to him as "the next Karl Malone."

As the Church Lady used to say on "Saturday Night Live": "Isn't that conveeeeenient?"

Thursday's events began with a welcome from longtime Jazz broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley. One of the larger and more enthusiastic draft day crowds in recent years showed up. In part, that's because interest in the Jazz is relatively high. But also, last year's draft in Utah was closed to the public.

There was a moment silence to honor coach Jerry Sloan's wife, Bobbye, who passed away last week. Then came video highlights of last season. Soon to follow was the unveiling of the new Jazz uniforms, which include white, navy and light blue, and look curiously reminiscent of Midwest Division rival Dallas.

On road uniforms, it says "Utah" on the front — which will no doubt account for more geographical confusion in years to come.

When it got down to drafting, the Jazz got about what was expected. Owner Larry H. Miller said beforehand that if BYU center Rafael Araujo was available, they would take him. But when the count rose to No. 8, Toronto called Araujo's name.

A swell of disappointed boos rose from the Delta Center crowd.

When the Jazz's turn came, there were still several good possibilities. Sergey Monya, the 6-8 Russian, was still around, as were 7-foot-5 Russian Pavel Podkolzine and Nevada guard Kirk Snyder. Haslam stepped to the podium as the sound was muted.

"We're ready to announce our pick at No. 14," said Haslam. He asked the crowd who it wanted, and a number of names were called back.

Said Haslam: "It's going to be Kris Humphries."

A respectable cheer ensued.

"It's a big pick," added Haslam.

They wanted at least one big man, Haslam said later in the evening, and they got him. They wanted someone to take some of the scoring weight and they got that, too, in Humphries, who led the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding.

They didn't get a center, even though at No. 21 they drafted Podkolzine, but traded away his rights. At No. 16 they selected Snyder, which drew a mixed response from the crowd.

Haslam said the team would find a place for Snyder, but was "concerned about Pavel's abilities" and the prospect of having three rookies. It was likely concerned, too, about some health issues.

That still leaves the Jazz likely short on centers. However, the summer looms. The teams has a mountain of cash to spend on free agents.

Trades also could be in the works.

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"We have some options," said Haslam.

For that, the entire city of Utah can be grateful.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com