The names speak volumes about the 15-year history of the New Orleans/Utah Jazz - Pete Maravich . . . Sam Battistone . . . Adrian Dantley . . . Larry Miller . . . Karl Malone . . .
Yet, no name is more closely associated with the Jazz than that of Francis P. Layden.Frank Layden, a former Niagara University coach and Atlanta Hawks assistant, became the Jazz general manager just in time for the franchise's move to New Orleans. He agreed to take over the coaching duties in December 1981 and started the rebuilding process that resulted in a Midwest Division championship in 1983-84 and has continued with .500-or-better records ever since. Layden's teams have also advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs - the final eight - in three of those five years.
Layden is justifiably proud of his longetivity in the volatile coaching world of the NBA. Only the Lakers' Pat Riley and Denver's Doug Moe has been with their teams longer than Layden.
The expansion Miami Heat wanted to hire Layden as their first coach last summer, but Miller stepped forward and denied permission for Miami officials to talk to Layden, assuring Layden that he was very much still wanted in Utah. And why not? Under Layden, Jazz teams have won 42, 44 and 47 regular-season games the past three years, and their 28-13 second half of last season offers considerable promise that things will be even better in 1988-89.
Layden, 56, prepared for his NBA career by starting with 10 years of drawing x's and o's on the high school level, experience that few pro coaches have in the common progression from player to broadcaster or assistant coach to head coach. His 10 years of college work included being both the coach and athletic director at Niagara, his alma mater, and now he's entering his 10th year with the Jazz - following three seasons in Atlanta.