While the National Basketball Association playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers were a disappointment for the Utah Jazz, the team's season was still a distinct success. Clearly, the fans hoped for more, but it's not as if the Jazz were blown away in the Portland series. Most of the losses in the 4-1 series were nail-biters and could easily have gone the other way.

And Utah fans, while naturally frustrated with the outcome, should remember that the Jazz went into the second round of the playoffs as underdogs. Portland had the best regular-season record in the entire NBA and remains a heavy favorite to go all the way to the championship.Among the pluses in the Jazz 1990-91 season was making the playoffs in the first place. Utah led its division much of the season and finished only one game out of first place as the result of a final-day loss. It was the sixth straight year of going to the playoffs for the Jazz.

With a first-round 3-1 playoff victory over Phoenix, the Jazz made it to the second round - among the final eight teams - for the first time since 1988.

The season was an historic one as well, marking the last games to be played by the Jazz in the Salt Palace. Next season, the Jazz will be housed in the larger arena being constructed by owner Larry Miller.

Aside from moving into new quarters next season, the Jazz will have to figure out how to improve. Success does not come from standing still. In Karl Malone and John Stockton, the Jazz have two of the league's premier players. But the team still needs to be strengthened, particularly in the caliber of players able to come off the bench. That is a trademark of teams that have won NBA championships.

In the meantime, congratulations to owner Larry Miller, Coach Jerry Sloan and all the players for their part in a major league operation and an outstanding season.