2014-15 NBA Season Among Most Memorable For Utah Jazz


Feb 6, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) and center Rudy Gobert (27) and forward Gordon Hayward (20) and guard Dante Exum (11) look on against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this month, Utah Jazz broadcaster and former player Matt Harpring bemoaned the fact that the team’s season was reaching its conclusion. As both a fan of the Jazz and a writer pontificating about the club’s exploits, his sentiments struck a chord with me.

Entering Friday night’s bout with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Jazz now have just four games remaining on their schedule. Despite the fact that there will be no postseason games for our boys in blue, you would probably be hard-pressed to find a Jazz fan that views the 2014-15 NBA season as anything but a rousing success for Utah.

For yours truly, the campaign will ultimately go down as one of the most memorable I have ever experienced. In many ways, it hearkens back to a 2003-04 season in which a Jazz team that was predicted to finish at the bottom of the league nearly advanced to the Playoffs.

What sets the current Jazz squad apart from the 03-04 squad is the promise of great things yet to come. That team was a ragtag lot; led by Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, a group that included Harpring, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Arroyo and Raja Bell were the ultimate overachievers.

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Meanwhile, the 14-15 core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert seems destined for success.

One thing is for certain—it’s been a year of stories for the organization. From the drafting of basketball’s “International Man of Mystery” Dante Exum to the Enes Kanter debacle and, later, the team’s second half ascension to a defensive juggernaut, the Jazz have kept us all on our toes.

I fondly remember waxing philosophical about the athleticism of Toure Murry and the skateboarding skills of Carrick Felix. I’ll long recall Gobert’s awesome FIBA run and the summer league play of Brock Motum. Also, this happened:

When Quin Snyder was tapped to be the team’s head coach, optimism was the order of the day. While the Jazz never quite delivered on the pace everyone talked about during Snyder’s introductory press conference, the first-year coach delivered on just about every other front and then some.

The Kanter situation was unfortunate; few among Jazz Nation will ever look at him the same way. Still, his dismissal was a catalyst for the emergence of the Stifle Tower, the Salute and hope for a better tomorrow.

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of Gobert’s rise to prominence is the evolution of Favors. Some would say he is the heart and soul of the team. After being (incorrectly) labeled a bust by some, the power forward has morphed into a beast on the low block, a threat from the mid-range and a defensive anchor.

Despite a bumpy start on the wings that included major injuries to Alec Burks and Rodney Hood, the position produced some amazing play in the end. Hayward looks the part of an All-Star in the league. Joe Ingles has seemingly become a deadeye shooter. Elijah Millsap went from being plucked from the ether to defending at an elite level. Hood has transformed himself into a potential starter.

Trevor Booker‘s energy, his passion and that incredible shot were all a joy. I also have to give it up to a guy who has no qualms about giving Blake Griffin the business. His story was one of my personal favorites in an action-packed year.

I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t talk about Trey Burke. He’s had highs and lows this season, but through it all has exhibited a winning attitude and an exemplary level of professionalism. He’s a soldier and continues to exhibit potential as a floor general.

There were countless other stories that comprised this Jazz season. Remember Hayward’s last-second dagger against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers? How about Greg Miller stepping down as CEO of the Miller Group? The recent loss of Hot Rod Hundley is still fresh in the minds of the NBA world.

Yes, the Jazz are a team that probably won’t reach 40 wins by season’s end. For each incredible peak, there has been a heartbreaking valley throughout the course of the year. Still, as Harpring said, the season is a party that you don’t want to end.

Fortunately, the party will resume this fall. It’s been a year of stories for the Utah Jazz, but the best story has yet to be written. Wins and losses aside, the 2014-15 campaign has memorably provided the opening chapter for what promises to be an incredible basketball odyssey.

For that, I thank all of the players, coaches and executives that made it all possible. Here’s to a memorable 2014-15 and an even better 2015-16.

Go Jazz.

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