SALT LAKE CITY — In 1986, Dell Curry arrived in Salt Lake City as a baby-faced 22-year-old out of Virginia Tech.
On Friday, the former NBA sharpshooter returned as a 53-year-old Charlotte Hornets color commentator.
So much has changed in 32 years, as the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer is now more known for being the father of his famous son, Steph. But spending his lone 1986-87 rookie season in Utah, way back in the day, taught him how to become a professional for 16 NBA seasons.
“I had a real veteran-laden team and they kind of set the stage for me of how to go about myself in the league and be a pro,” Curry recalled ahead of the Jazz-Hornets game. “I had Darrell Griffith in front of me, Bobby Hansen, Thurl Bailey, Rickey Green and those guys were veterans who had been in the league a long time so I didn’t get to play much but I just sat back and watched and listened and they taught me a lot.”
John Stockton and Karl Malone were also just in their second and third seasons at the time as the team went 44-38 under former Jazz coach Frank Layden. As it happened, in the opening round of the postseason the Jazz lost 3-2 to Golden State, where his son Steph Curry now stars as a two-time MVP and two-time champion.
Back then, Jazz home games were played in the Salt Palace and Curry averaged 4.9 points and 1.2 rebounds in 67 games before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1987.
During the 1987-88 season, Curry’s wife, Sonya, gave birth to their superstar son Steph at the Akron General Medical Center on March 14, 1988 — the same birthplace as LeBron James. Curry was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1994 and he's also the Hornets’ three-point field goals leader. Playing in Utah is what set the tone for his career.
“I was the farthest I’d ever been from home and completely on my own,” Curry said. “I went to college about two hours from where I grew up so I was in another climate if you will and it taught me a little bit about the world and there was a lot of things going on that I didn’t know, but again the guys that I played with, my teammates, really helped me out.”
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: The newest member of the Utah Jazz, Jae Crowder, arrived at Vivint Arena ahead of the Charlotte Hornets game Friday. He wasn’t cleared to participate in any on-court activities until the results of everyone involved in the three-team deal is approved by the league, but he caught a glimpse of his No. 99 Jazz jersey in his locker room for the first time. His father, Corey, played for the Jazz during the 1991-92 season and he played with Jonas Jerebko for three seasons in Boston from 2014-17.
THANK YOU, UTAH: Former Jazz guard Rodney Hood is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers after Thursday’s three-team trade that helped Utah acquire Jae Crowder, but he expressed his gratitude to the organization via Twitter.
"THANK YOU to Utah for three and a half incredible years. I’ve grown so much in this city as an athlete and as a man,” Hood tweeted. “Shoutout to all my teammates, coaches, and fans for an experience I will never forget. Now it’s time to get after it for The Land”