Utah Sports Ruckus: The future of the Jazz rests on Larry Krystkowiak, Eric Murdock and the No. 14

By Nate Gagon

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, April 14 2014 9:50 a.m. MDT

Larry Krystkowiak coaches the Utah Utes during a men's basketball game against Oregon at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

When University of Utah head basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak was hired in 2011 many people assumed it was because athletic director Chris Hill wanted him to coach college basketball.

In reality, however, Krystkowiak was carried to the Wasatch Front by the winds of destiny for a much larger purpose: to undo the curse of the Utah Jazz and lead them to an NBA title.

Indeed, fate has knighted Krystkowiak as “The One” who can break Utah’s curse. To accomplish this, however, Krystkowiak must become head coach of the Jazz in 2014.

If he does, fate will see that Utah wins an NBA championship. If he doesn’t, the Jazz and their fans will never stand atop the NBA mountain after having been cursed more than two decades years ago.

The events that led to the curse took place in 1991 when a player from Providence College broke the all-time record for most steals in a college career. The player with the lightning-quick hands was a point guard named Eric Murdock. On June 26, 1991, the Jazz selected Murdock in the first round (No. 21 overall) of the NBA Draft.

Little did Krystkowiak know that this draft pick would greatly impact his destiny.

The night of the draft a 9-year-old boy, just a few miles down the road from the Delta Center (now EnergySolutions Arena), heard that the Jazz had drafted this player with the steals record. In the boy’s mind, owning such a record was incredible and therefore by way of stealing basketballs, the point guard from Providence began to steal the boy’s heart.

The bond between player and young fan was cemented forever when the boy used his allowance money to purchase a Murdock rookie card and discovered on the back that — marvelously — they shared the same birthday.

Seeing this, the boy felt happiness, the likes of which he had scarcely known in his nine years on earth. That day, the boy found true sports love. Murdock was his Princess Buttercup, and he would gladly have braved a fire swamp, stormed a castle or fought a six-fingered man for him.

While Krystkowiak averaged nine points and five rebounds per game for the Milwaukee Bucks in ’91-’92, Murdock averaged just under 10 minutes per game his rookie season with Utah playing behind future NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton.

While Murdock didn’t play a whole lot, each minute he did play was — for the boy — special. The boy figured it was only a matter of time before the Jazz would see Murdock for what he was: the best.

Tragically, instead, on June 24, 1992, nearly a year after the Jazz drafted him Murdock was traded. After discovering this while watching the evening news that night, the devastated boy walked out the front door of his house, sat down under the big birch tree in his front yard and cried.

His heartache was so poignant and his anguish so real that as his tears hit the earth, the ground of the Wasatch Front was cursed forever against the Jazz. From that point forward, fate decided, Utah would never win an NBA championship no matter how many Hall of Fame players it had, how many tractors its coach owned or how well the people paid their tithing.

As with most curses, however, fate allowed a single way whereby the curse might be broken; one hero who might defy all odds and set things right. That way, that hero, was and is Larry Krystkowiak.

See, the Jazz’s trade not only affected Eric Murdock and the young boy. There were three other players involved. Going with Murdock to Milwaukee was Blue Edwards and coming to Utah were Jay Humphries and, yes, Krystkowiak.

This is why Larry was chosen as "The One" that could break the curse, and fate declared that to do so, he would need to return to Utah in the future to accomplish some great feat upon the cursed ground.

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