Deseret Morning News archives
Adrian Dantley

After former Utah Jazz great Adrian Dantley finally got the phone call that he had been selected to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame after eight years of disappointment, he told his mother and his wife, "I'm in now, so I've only got two more goals in life: Live to be 100 years and be head coach or general manager in the NBA.

"I'll get one of the two," Dantley, 53, told the Deseret Morning News by phone early Monday morning before officially being announced as one of the seven 2008 inductees at a Monday morning Hall of Famers breakfast in San Antonio.

He was also presented — along with fellow inductees Pat Riley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, broadcaster Dick Vitale, Immaculata University coach Cathy Rush and Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson — at halftime at NCAA championship game between Memphis and Kansas Monday night.

"Hopefully it won't take as long as these other two," Dantley joked about his coaching/GM aspirations. The reference was to his finally making it to the Hall of Fame after eight years and the retirement of his jersey by the Utah Jazz in EnergySolutions Arena last April — more than 20 years after he'd played his last game as a Jazzman.

As for finally making the Hall — he will be formally enshrined with his family in attendance Sept. 4-6 in Springfield, Mass. — Dantley said it was a relief.

"I never thought it (the delay) was about basketball," he said. "I don't know. Who knows?

"A lot of things could have happened where it may have been different," he added. "I probably would have ended my career in Utah — if I hadn't had the little ruckus with Frank Layden. I might have been in there quicker."

He might have made it more quickly if his career had ended with a championship in Detroit, he said, but he was traded away before the title. "Had I not gotten traded, won a championship, I might have gotten in quicker. Who knows?"

The "ruckus" with Layden, who was Jazz coach and GM, started in Phoenix in the Jazz locker room during Karl Malone's rookie year. Layden was getting on Malone for his play, and Dantley stuck up for his eventual successor at power forward. Layden sent Dantley home from the road trip and fined him 30 pieces of silver for traitorous behavior.

Layden has since said publicly he wishes he hadn't done that, and he and Dantley long ago made up, but it took a long time for Jazz owner Larry H. Miller to OK Dantley's number retirement, which may have slowed his Hall of Fame progress.

"Yeah, I guess, when you think about it," said Dantley, "I'm looking at this list of all these people in the Hall of Fame; there's not one person on this list" who is in the Hall of Fame who doesn't have his jersey retired.

Miller said at the number retirement that he wished he hadn't done so much "foot-dragging" on getting it done.

But on Monday morning in San Antonio, Dantley could finally say, "Finally got in. Feel pretty good. "

Dantley is an assistant coach for the NBA Denver Nuggets. He has also coached collegiately.

"Oh yeah, I like it. I like college," he said of coaching. "The only thing about college, I don't know if I could chase kids (recruit).

"I like the NBA. I really have an eye for talent. I like that aspect of it, but I like the coaching, too."

So now he awaits an opportunity to lead an NBA team as head coach or GM. "I always said it's all a matter of being around and somebody say(ing), 'Hey, I want to try this guy out."'

At his number retirement ceremony just about a year ago in Salt Lake, he publicly told Miller that when Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and assistant Phil Johnson are done with coaching, he'd at least like to get an interview for the job.