Introduction – The Utah Jazz
Anyone familiar with American Basketball may know of the Utah Jazz – the official basketball team of Salt Lake City, Utah, and the rest of the state along with it, of course. Founded in 1979, the Utah Jazz compete along with the other national basketball association (NBA) teams as a member club of the NBA league’s Western Conference Northwest Division (WCND).
History of the Utah Jazz
Since 1991, the Utah Jazz have began playing their home games at the Vivint Smart Home Arena – an indoor Salt Lake City arena and, of course, home of the Utah Jazz. The Vivint Smart Home Arena is also the home venue for Utah’s other professional athletic teams such as the Utah Blaze, part of the Arena Football League (AFL), and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Originally, when the team was first founded was known as the New Orleans Jazz – an obvious nod to their source of inspiration. They were originally an expansion team based in New Orleans until they were moved to Salt Lake City in 1979.
Unfortunately, the Utah Jazz had a rough first start – they were one of the least successful teams in the NBA during their formative years. The Jazz had to wait 10 seasons until they made their first playoffs in 1984, but the Jazz quickly came to understand how important the playoffs are to any successful NBA team. From their first playoff game onward, the Jazz made good to not miss them for 20 consecutive years – until 2004. That’s a pretty good track record for a relatively new team to me.
The Utah Jazz thus far have enjoyed a rich and rewarding career, due no less than being blessed with extremely talented and experienced coaches. Here is a sample of some of the best coaches to ever grace the Utah Jazz.
Frank Layden first began his time as the coach of the Utah Jazz in 1979. He began not as a coach, but of a general manager when they were still the expansion team the New Orleans Jazz. When they relocated to Salt Lake City in 1981, he then became the coach, replacing then-current coach Tom Nissalke and coaching for the next seven and a half years after that.
Frank Layden was instrumental in both drafting and signing big franchise mainstays John Stockton and Karl Malone in the Jazz. In1984, Frank Layden was awarded the NBA’s Coach of the Year, and in the same season, he also won the NBA’s Executive of the Year award, and the NBA’s Walter Kennedy Citizenship Awards for his esteemed and prestigious coaching talent. He is only one of two non-players in the history of the NBA to win the latter award.
Jerry Sloan – Jazz Coach Legend
Jerry Sloan is the legendary coach who led the Utah Jazz team to become one of the biggest powerhouses of the 1990s, taking over from Frank Layden in 1988. They made the NBA finals in both ‘97 and ‘98, only walled from the title of champions by the Chicago Bulls, led both times by the legend Michael Jordan, a man who needs no introduction.
Jerry Sloan has built a reputation of being one of the greatest and most respected coaches in the history of the NBA. The man had a regular season win-loss record of 1,221 wins, 803 losses – making the all-time third biggest NBA winner ever by the time he retired. Now that’s how you forge a legacy for yourself in the name of basketball.
The Utah Jazz has had its history graced with talented and renowned coaches over its history, but among these coaches, Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan stand out as the most esteemed, awarded, well-known, and talented Utah Jazz coaches in the history of the team.