What would happen if the 1971 Utah Stars played the 1991 Utah Jazz?
We asked the two former Stars players who live in Salt Lake and follow the Jazz to compare the two teams.Ron Boone sees all the Jazz games as an analyst for KISN Radio, and Dick Nemelka, a local attorney, sees quite a few Jazz games as a fan.
"I think we could have competed in the NBA," said Boone. "We weren't as deep in talent and didn't have as much athletic ability. But I think we could probably have held our own."
Nemelka said the physical play would be the biggest difference.
"It's much more physical than it used to be," said Nemelka. "We wouldn't have anyone to match up with (Karl) Malone. He'd push Red Robbins right off the court."
Boone agreed about the matchup between the 260-pound Malone and the 200-pound Robbins. "Red would get worn down. It would be a matter of how long he'd last," said Boone.
"At center, Eaton couldn't have stayed with Zelmo (Beaty), although he would have caused (Beaty) some problems, because Zelmo liked to post up inside," said Nemelka. "But Zelmo could sink the 15-footer."
Both Boone and Nemelka agreed that Willie Wise might have had an edge over either Blue Edwards or Thurl Bailey at the small forward spot, especially in the rebounding department.
Nemelka figures there wouldn't be as much of a difference on the guardline. "We ran, we had good three-point shooters and a lot of guys (five on the guardline). But he admitted no one could stay with John Stockton. "We really didn't have a point guard on that team."
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Boone agreed that the Stars guards were comparable. "Our guardline was very strong," he said. "Glen Combs was one of the best three-point shooters and we had good depth."
The benches might have been a draw. The Jazz have been criticized for their bench, but the Stars didn't go much deeper. Although he started at times, Boone was a perfect sixth man, playing either guard or small forward. George Stone was a streak shooter, who could light them up from all over when he came in the game.
Backup guards Mike Butler and Nemelka had their individual moments, while rookie Rod McDonald played a little more than Walter Palmer did this year. The Jazz would have an edge inside with Mike Brown as a backup center. The Stars really didn't have a backup center, using Robbins in relief of Beaty until picking up a guy named Sam Smith late in the season. But Smith hardly played.
"The way the NBA is played today is a lot more physical," said Boone. "But I think we definitely could have fit into the style of play of today's NBA."
- Mike Sorensen