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Jazz colors, fortunes change over time

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 2:54 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams talks to the ref. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams talks to the ref. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Since the inception of the franchise in 1974, the Jazz logo has been as steady as Jerry Sloan, Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Utah's new-look retro uniforms will feature just the fifth color scheme and logo in the franchise's 36-year history.

The logo started as a J-note in New Orleans, and remained virtually the same when the team moved to Utah — other than swapping New Orleans for Utah next to the J, of course. The logo stayed the same until 1996 when a mountain background with flashier colors replaced the J-note. The Jazz made those uniforms and color scheme famous in their two NBA Finals appearances.

Utah changed its look again in 2004, mostly by tweaking its color scheme. It was a fitting change, as the longtime faces of the franchise — Stockton and Malone — were gone.

Utah Jazz's John Stockton, left, and Karl Malone watch as the Sacramento Kings walk onto the court. (Associated Press) Utah Jazz's John Stockton, left, and Karl Malone watch as the Sacramento Kings walk onto the court. (Associated Press)

The different logos and color schemes were distinctive in their own ways and on uniforms worn by Hall-of-Famers, possible future Hall-of-Famers, busts and bench warmers. Here is a look back at the best players to wear the various unis, and the high notes and sour notes in Utah Jazz logo history.

New Orleans Jazz 1974-79 Team Colors: Purple, Green, Gold

Best player: Pistol Pete Maravich

The most prolific scorer in NCAA history at 44.2 points per game, Maravich excited Jazz fans when he was acquired from the Atlanta Hawks prior to the franchise's first season in New Orleans. He played in New Orleans all five seasons the franchise was located there with his best year coming in 1974-75. He averaged 31.1 points per game and scored 68 against the Knicks in a game at the Superdome that season.

Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz smiles after a made shot. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz smiles after a made shot. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Sloan on Maravich: "I played against Pistol Pete. He was a terrific player."

High note: The Jazz never made the playoffs in their original uniforms in their original city. Record-wise, their best season was in 1977-78 when they finished 39-43.

Sour note: The Jazz's entire final season in New Orleans was sour. Maravich was hampered by injuries, Truck Robinson was traded, and the Jazz finished with the worst record in the league. They packed up and moved to Utah after the 1978-79 season.

Utah Jazz 1979-96 Team Colors: Purple, Green, Gold

Best player: Adrian Dantley

Jazz fans could count on Dantley for consistency and scoring in the franchise's first seven seasons in Utah. Dantley averaged scoring more than 30 points per game in four straight seasons. He won two scoring titles, and made the all-star team six times. He helped the Jazz to a Midwest Division championship and the playoffs in his fifth season with them in 1983-84. He left the NBA as the ninth-leading scorer in NBA history with 23,177 points.

Pete Maravich, New Orleans Jazz, 1979, in his last year in New Orleans before moving to Utah for the 1979-80 season. Maravich played at the end of his career with the knee brace. (Tim Alexander, Dnews) Pete Maravich, New Orleans Jazz, 1979, in his last year in New Orleans before moving to Utah for the 1979-80 season. Maravich played at the end of his career with the knee brace. (Tim Alexander, Dnews)

Sloan on Dantley: "Adrian certainly had a big impact on this franchise because he gave them a legitimate all-star player. That helped get the attention of a lot of people. The team grew into respectability."

High note: The Jazz arrived and were the darlings of the NBA during their second-round playoff series against the mighty Lakers in 1988. The Jazz stunningly took a 2-1 series lead against L.A., which was the reigning NBA champions and led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After falling behind 3-2 in the series, Utah blew the Lakers out in Game 6, 108-80. The Lakers took Game 7 on their way to back-to-back titles.

Sour note: The Jazz seemingly turned the corner in their series with the Lakers, winning 51 games and the Midwest Division title the following season. But their next playoff appearance was a disaster, as the Jazz, a No. 2 seed, got swept by the small-ball Warriors 3-0 in a first-round series.

Adrian Dantley, in the mid-80's of the Jazz franchise holds the ball while John Stockton runs in the background. (Andrew D. Bernstein,Nbae/Getty Images) Adrian Dantley, in the mid-80's of the Jazz franchise holds the ball while John Stockton runs in the background. (Andrew D. Bernstein,Nbae/Getty Images)

Utah Jazz 1996-2004 Team Colors: Light Blue, Copper, Black

Best players: John Stockton/Karl Malone

You can't separate the two. By the time these two wore the jerseys that featured a mountain backdrop rather than the J-note, Stockton and Malone were perennial all-stars. They led the Jazz to two NBA final appearances in their new duds during highlight moments of their Hall-of-Fame careers. Stockton, of course, is the league's all-time leader in assists and steals. Malone is a two-time MVP and the second-leading scorer in NBA history.

Sloan on Stockton/Malone: "I think their record speaks for itself. They came and gave it (their all) every day. Whether it be in practice, whatever we did, they wanted to be a part of what was going on and they were great leaders."

Adrian Dantley, in the mid-80's of the Jazz franchise. (Don Grayston, Dnews) Adrian Dantley, in the mid-80's of the Jazz franchise. (Don Grayston, Dnews)

High note: Stockton hit the most famous shot in Jazz history, draining a 3-pointer in Utah's Game 6 win over the Houston Rockets in the 1997 Western Conference finals to send Utah to the NBA Finals for the first time. It was the fourth time the Jazz made it to the Western Conference finals, but the first time they got over the hump. What Jazz fan will ever forget the image of Stockton, Malone and Jeff Hornacek hugging at midcourt after Stockton's 3-pointer?

Sour note: An NBA title — or at least a Game 7 in the 1998 Finals — was within their grasp, but it was gone in a matter of seconds, thanks to a Michael Jordan strip, a Bryon Russell slip and a series-ending jumper by the greatest of all time, Jordan. The Jazz, trailing the Bulls 3-2 in the Finals, led Game 6 86-83 with 41.9 seconds left. But Jordan made a layup, stole the ball from Malone on the other end, and sank a wide open jumper over a flailing Russell with 5.2 seconds left to win it. The Jazz haven't been back to the Finals since then.

Adrian Dantley, in the mid-80's of the Jazz franchise. (Don Grayston, Dnews) Adrian Dantley, in the mid-80's of the Jazz franchise. (Don Grayston, Dnews)

Utah Jazz 2004-10 Team Colors: Navy, Powder Blue, Purple, Silver

Best player: Deron Williams

The Jazz moved up to select Williams with the third overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft and it was one of the best moves in franchise history. Williams has improved in each season he's played, earning his first all-star berth last season. He became the first player in league history to score at least 20 points and dish at least 10 assists in five straight playoff games against the Nuggets last season. In a recent NBA.com survey of league general managers, Williams was voted the best point guard in the NBA.

Sloan on Williams: "He's a terrific young player. Hopefully he gradually gets better and better as we move forward. Most players do."

High note: An unexpected Game 7 win over Houston in the first round, and some luck in facing Golden State in the conference semifinals helped the Jazz return to the Western Conference finals in 2007. Carlos Boozer played his best game with Utah with 35 points and 14 rebounds in Game 7. against the Rockets and the Jazz had little trouble with the Warriors, a No. 8 seed, in the second round. The Jazz couldn't get past their nemesis Spurs in the Western Conference finals, but no one expected them to, either.

Pete Maravich, with the New Orleans Jazz in the 1977 season. (???????, Dnews) Pete Maravich, with the New Orleans Jazz in the 1977 season. (???????, Dnews)

Sour note: If it previously hadn't been obvious that Stockton and Malone had left the building, it was in 2004-05 when the Jazz had a 26-56 record. It was their worst mark since the 1981-82 season. But there was a bright spot to the poor record, as it enabled the team to get Williams in the ensuing NBA draft.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com

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