Fans of the Jazz have been blessed with some magical seasons since the team entered the league as the New Orleans Jazz in 1974. Here’s our attempt at ranking the top four teams in Jazz history.
1. The 1996-97 Jazz
Making the first of back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, the 1996-97 Utah Jazz were virtually unstoppable. Led by league MVP Karl Malone, who put up averages of 27.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, and his longtime Jazz co-star, John Stockton, Utah went 64-18. The Jazz blew through the Western Conference field in the playoffs to make the NBA Finals, where they lost to a motivated Michael Jordan and the Bulls in six games. As the first Jazz team to play on the NBA’s biggest stage, they claim the No. 1 spot on this list.
2. The 1997-98 Jazz
With largely the same cast, the 1997-98 Utah Jazz made another ill-fated run at dethroning the Bulls. They had the talent – Malone on the post, the sharp-shooting Stockton and Jeff Hornacek in the backcourt, and versatile Bryon Russell at forward – but again Utah came up short in six games against the Jordan and the Bulls.
3. The 1995-96 Jazz
So maybe it’s not terribly exciting that the top three Jazz teams all hail from the Malone-Stockton glory years, but that duo was that darn good. The 1994-95 Jazz had more wins (60) than this season’s version (55), but unlike the previous season, this team didn’t lose in the first round of the playoffs. With Malone, Stockton, and Hornacek leading the charge, Utah took Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and the Seattle Supersonics to seven games in a heart-wrenching Western Conference Finals loss.
4. The 2006-07 Jazz
Finally, a team without Stockton and Malone! This iteration of the Jazz kicked off a four-season streak of playoff appearances by going 51-31 in the regular season. These Jazz attacked you from all angles – with bruiser Carlos Boozer and sharp-shooting big Mehmet Okur down low, an in-his-prime Deron Williams at the point, and forward Andrei Kirilenko contributing in a variety of stat categories. They’d end up losing to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, but not before putting together one of the more memorable seasons in Utah history.
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