Counting a coach, 2021 marks the largest collection of Utah Jazz All-Stars.
Thanks to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, three Utah Jazz players have tied a franchise All-Star record; yet factoring in Team LeBron head honcho Quin Snyder, these four Jazzmen officially have the advantage, at least when it comes to quantity of representation.
On Friday evening, Silver suddenly made Mike Conley a first-time NBA All-Star Game selection by announcing that the 33-year-old guard will replace the Phoenix Suns’ injured Devin Booker on Team Durant for Sunday’s 6 p.m. MT showcase in Atlanta.
Conley joins Jazz teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, thereby matching Utah’s all-time high total — in terms of players, anyway — from 1989. The three that year were Jazz legends Mark Eaton, John Stockton, and Karl Malone, who had since stood as the only trio in franchise history to make the same All-Star Game.
A lot to live up to for the second Utah Jazz All-Star trio
Of course, with All-Star battles between the conferences being the norm back in those days, Mark Eaton, John Stockton, and Karl Malone were on the same side in 1989. On that night, they combined for 39 points, 20 assists, 17 rebounds, seven steals, and two blocks while shooting 17-for-23 from the field for the winning West bunch.
Both Stockton and Malone were starters. Plus, with 28 points and nine boards of his own, Malone took home his first of what would become two career All-Star MVP honors (1993 was the second, which Malone and Stockton shared).
In other words, coming close to that level of production won’t be easy for Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley since all three will be coming off the bench on Sunday; Mitchell and Conley will pair up on Team Durant while Gobert will suit up for Team LeBron.
And seeing that Mitchell and Gobert were the last two picks in Thursday’s All-Star Draft, there’s no telling how few minutes and touches they’ll receive.
That said, when comparing these upcoming Utah Jazz All-Star performances to those from 32 years ago, the equation should have a way to factor in Quin Snyder, especially if Team LeBron comes away with the W as a result of some brilliant subbing and overall strategizing in the final minutes.
After all, the 54-year-old hoops genius is the first Jazzman since Frank Layden in 1984 to be a head coach at an All-Star Game.
Additionally, it’s worth weighing in that Conley and Mitchell are on tap to try their hands at the 3-Point Contest, which will take place before Sunday’s main event and is also set to spotlight Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Zach Lavine.
So there would certainly be significant bonus points in store for the 2021 Utah Jazz crew over the 1989 gang — Stockton didn’t take part in a 3-Point Contest until 1992 — if either Conley or Mitchell manages to snag that trophy.