by Rob Cao
In 2002, a young Puerto Rican point guard named Carlos Arroyo signed with the Jazz. Prior to joining the Jazz, Arroyo had spent some time with a couple of NBA clubs as well as spending some time in the Spanish ACB League. This signing was not highly regarded due to the fact that legendary veterans John Stockton and Mark Jackson were on the roster.
As expected, Arroyo’s first season with the Jazz went by quietly. After the season ended, John Stockton retired. Mark Jackson also left and signed with the Houston Rockets. These two moves would end up making Arroyo the starting point guard for the 2003 season. Another major move that occurred that offseason was star big man Karl Malone leaving Utah and heading to Los Angeles to play with Kobe, Shaq, and the Lakers.
With the huge losses of Malone, Stockton, and Jackson, NBA analysts were predicting the Jazz to end the upcoming season as one of the worst teams in the league. Proving all of the doubters wrong, Utah finished the season as the number nine seed in the West with a 42-40 record, falling just one came out of a playoff berth. The basketball world was certainly surprised by the impressive season Utah had. As the starting point guard, Arroyo played a huge role in this successful season. He averaged a little over 12 points-per-game, to go along with five assists. He also shot 32 percent from three. In his first season as a starter, Arroyo also had a 30-point game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. That game was the second highest points scored in a game by a Puerto Rican player in NBA history.
Following such a great season for Arroyo and the Jazz, Arroyo found himself being the number four player in the Jazz point guard rotation. Loss of playing time led to some conflict between Arroyo and Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan. A couple months into the season, Arroyo was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Elden Campbell and a future first round pick. Campbell would end up being waived by the Jazz and rejoining the Pistons. Therefore, Arroyo was basically traded for a draft pick.
Although his time in Utah was short, Arroyo made a huge impact on the team and community. After a rough offseason for The Jazz and their fans, Arroyo and that 2003 team were able to spread some hope and joy to the great fans of Utah.
Featured image courtesy FanSided