Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
A decade after guiding Utah to consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, Phil Johnson and Jerry Sloan are still with the Jazz. The coaches are seen here during the 2008 playoff series against the Lakers.

A decade after Utah's most recent appearance in the NBA Finals, several key contributors were still with the organization.

The cast includes head coach Jerry Sloan, assistant coaches Phil Johnson and Scott Layden, as well as guard Jeff Hornacek — a special assistant on the coaching staff.

"Time flies when you're having fun," Johnson quipped when asked about the 10th anniversary of the organization's back-to-back trips to the league championship series.

"I think it's unique and a credit to Larry Miller and how he is and Coach Sloan and how he is," Layden said of the number of folks still with the team. "It shows that this franchise is still very stable and really has done things the right way for so many years.

"But it's really both of those guys (Miller and Sloan) that you have to point to and look at as far as the core of the transition and where we are today," he added.

There's a link that has survived the test of time.

"It's funny because when I came back here it seems like it was just yesterday," Hornacek said. "Then you get guys like (current Jazz guard) Ronnie Price. (During the 2008 playoffs), he was telling me: 'Hey, I was watching those finals when I was like in seventh grade.' I'm like 'Oh man, that must have been a little while ago then."'

A lot has happened in the past decade.

Star players John Stockton and Karl Malone have been immortalized with statues in front of the arena (formerly known as the Delta Center and now called EnergySolutions Arena). Both players have also had their jersey numbers retired, as has Hornacek.

The franchise is now undergoing a revival of success — winning two consecutive division titles and reaching the Western Conference finals in 2007.

Though an NBA championship remains elusive, three players who reached the finals with Utah managed to earn a ring elsewhere — Greg Foster with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001; Shandon Anderson with the Miami Heat in 2006; and Jacque Vaughn with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. Vaughn, a Jazz rookie in 1997-98, is the only former Utah finalist still in the league a decade later.

The fact that so few wound up winning a title weighs heavily on Layden. He's especially mindful of his father Frank Layden, Miller, Sloan and future Hall of Famers Stockton and Malone.

"All the other years that we were close ... I felt bad that that group — those five guys — did not win a championship," Scott Layden said. "Because they were all championship people and they deserved that. I often reflect on that."


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