SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz celebrated their 40th season Wednesday night, even if it was only 39 years since the start of their first season in Utah in October 1979.
The team wore their purple-and-gold Classic Edition jerseys, the Golden Griff, Darrell Griffith, was on hand as a Jazz alumni, along with Tom Nissalke, the original Utah Jazz coach, and Frank Layden, the original general manager, as well as longtime coach Jerry Sloan.
When asked about what it means to be part of the 40th-season celebration, coach Quin Snyder said “it’s hard to articulate” before articulating.
“We’ve played a small role relative to all the people that have come before and laid a foundation,” he said. “There’s really a level of pride beginning with Mr. Miller and Gail and Greg and Steve — everybody from the ownership group and the way they’ve committed to the Jazz the resources they’ve provided. As much as anything, it’s the level of passion and how it’s affected and impacted everybody here over the years.”
“Being part of this special culture is something good,” said Ricky Rubio. “This team has been one of the best for a long time. All the players who have played here built a culture, and we want to keep doing it. They really set a tone, especially John, a guy who I really admired and looked up to when I was younger.”
“It’s great to be able to play and honor the legacy that they left you,” added Rudy Gobert.
GOBERT LANE?: Gobert said one of the first things he noticed when he came to Utah was how the streets around Vivint Arena are named after Stockton and Malone.
“I saw they had their own street, that means they did something good,” Gobert said. “When I saw that, I said, ‘maybe one day I’ll have my own street, that would be great.’”
Gobert also hinted about how he’d like to stay his whole career with the Jazz, praising Stockton and Malone for “what they’ve done and the loyalty that they had staying for their whole career with the same team and everything they left behind. It’s great to keep the same group of guys and if you don’t make it one year, try to come back the next year and make it and don’t give up on your team.”
COOL DUDE: When asked about the 40-year celebration and memories he had of the Jazz before he got here, Alec Burks smiled and said, “memories of 40 years? … I’m 27.”
Burks did recall a visit he and former Jazzman Trey Burke made a few years ago to see Stockton in Washington.
“I had a chance to go work out with him in Washington and I got to realize who he really is and interact with him,” he said. “He’s a funny guy, really cool guy, I got to meet his family and kids, he’s a cool dude.”1 comment on this story
JAZZ NOTES: Friday night is the big night Jazz fans have been anticipating for 16 months — the return of former Jazzman Gordon Hayward, who left Utah to join the Boston Celtics. The game will begin at 7:30 and be televised on ESPN. … After that the Jazz embark on an eight-day, five-game trip back East, beginning with Memphis on Monday night and finishing with Indiana the following Monday. In between, the Jazz will visit Dallas, Philadelphia and Boston. … Besides next week’s game in Dallas, the Jazz will play the Mavs one more time, Feb. 23 at home.