20 years ago the Utah Jazz won a team record 64 games and advanced all the way to Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately they ran into the greatest player of all time in Michael Jordan and they became part of the long list of runner up teams in the Jordan era.
The Jazz will get a chance to re-kindle their flame in the two decade anniversary of their first NBA Finals team. Several key players from the team met in an anniversary dinner, including former Jazz guard and current New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. Horny and the Knicks will take on the Utah Jazz on national TV tonight (ESPN) at 8:30 PM Mountain Standard Time.
Karl Malone reportedly won’t be attending as he has other arrangements. However, the all time career assists and steals leader in John Stockton will be in attendance as well as other 1997 role players like Bryon Russell and Greg Ostertag. Famous Jazz coach Jerry Sloan will also be there with slick parted hair to match Stockton’s (though a tad more grey).
The biggest moment of the 1997 Jazz season was the three point game winning shot that John Stockton hit in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. “The Shot” sent the Utah Jazz to their first ever NBA finals. The lowest moment was definitely when Michael Jordan scored 38 points in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to take a commanding 3-2 lead and eventually win the series in the 6th game. This wouldn’t normally be big news but Jordan was battling the flu that night and was so exhausted he could barely stand.
Only the greatest player in the world could win in those conditions in a hostile environment like the Delta Center. Jordan proved he was the greatest that year and years to come (except maybe when it comes to being the owner of the mediocre Charlotte Hornets). The Utah Jazz will have to settle for Conference title celebrations at least for now. This young team powered by Gobert and Hayward have the potential to be something special as the Jazz will make their first playoff appearance this year and might even get home court advantage.
It will be a night of memories, Stifle Tower blocks and Hayward dunks. It will be the night of remembering the 1997 Jazz, “Reunited” once again.
It’s time to bring out the purple and blue retro Jazz attire.