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Which numbers should actually be retired for the Utah Jazz?

And who will be the next player to get a jersey in the rafters?

Washington Wizards v Utah Jazz Photo By Kent Horner/ NBAE via Getty Images

The Utah Jazz have twelve officially retired jerseys.

Those numbers are as follows:

1: Frank Laydon

4: Adrian Dantley

6: Bill Russell (number retired across the NBA)

7: Pete Maravich

9: Larry H. Miller

12: John Stockton

14: Jeff Hornacek

32: Karl Malone

35: Darrell Griffith

53: Mark Eaton

1223: Jerry Sloan

️: Hot Rod Hundley

Jazz fans have long debated the inclusions in this list and if the list is too long. Some argue that a team without championships shouldn’t have so many jerseys in the rafters. Of course, there are no official criteria for retiring a jersey, and team ownership can choose to do so for whichever player they choose. That means each team will have differing production levels necessary for a player to be included.

I’ve decided to analyze these debates in regards to the Jazz players. We all agree that Jerry Sloan, Hot Rod Hundley, Frank Laydon, and Larry Miller deserve to be honored for their time with the Jazz. That said, they should all probably be more like Hundley’s, which doesn’t keep a valid jersey number retired. As for the players, I’ll look at a couple of questions. Are there players currently honored that might not deserve it? Are there players that should have their numbers retired but haven’t?

I’ll start by laying out my criteria. I’ve separated it into three categories: involvement in team success/longevity, individual accolades, and stats. Each category is important, but how we weigh them is entirely subjective. One person may value wins more than anything, while another may value statistical impact more. There is no correct answer, so I’ll present each and put together a list of numbers that should be retired based on each of the three categories and then put them all together at the end.

Team success and longevity

Throughout this comparison, I’ll be using a list of the Jazz players with their numbers retired, along with five other players who could potentially have an argument to have their numbers retired, depending on the criteria.

As we’ll see in each section, Karl Malone and John Stockton dominate almost every statistic. I could have left them off this comparison entirely. It’s abundantly clear that they deserve to have their jerseys retired. I determined that keeping them on the comparisons was necessary so that other players’ stats didn’t look inaccurately inflated.

Outside of “The Statues,” the other players that stand out in this category are Jeff Hornacek, Mark Eaton, and Thurl Bailey. Hornacek didn’t play as many games for the Jazz as some of the other players on the list, but he was a key contributor to Utah’s most dominant years, and his win totals reflect that. Eaton played the third most games for the Jazz. Bailey played a lot of games and won a lot, too.

Darrell Griffith, Andrei Kirilenko, and Rudy Gobert also made decent contributions here but far beneath the levels of the others mentioned. The big standouts to me are the players with the worst showings in team success. Adrian Dantley and Pete Maravich. Both players have their numbers retired, and their accolades and accomplishments will show why, but they struggled in this category. Maravich’s stats include New Orleans and Utah, as it is the same franchise. Despite his statistical dominance, Maravich never made the playoffs with the Jazz. Those teams were frequent under-performers, and it resulted in a sale of the franchise. Dantley took over as the new star with flashy stats but few wins. He did manage to get the Jazz to the playoffs in some of his last seasons with Utah but never made much of a postseason splash.

Retired numbers based purely on team success and longevity:

Definitely: Karl Malone, John Stockton

Likely: Jeff Hornacek, Mark Eaton, Thurl Bailey

Unlikely: Rudy Gobert, Darrell Griffith, Andrei Kirilenko

Definitely not: Adrian Dantley, Pete Maravich, Deron Williams, Donovan Mitchell


Yet again, Malone and Stockton dominate this category.

After them, there’s a clear second tier starring Pete Maravich, Adrian Dantley, and Rudy Gobert. Pistol Pete and AD are already in the Hall of Fame, and Rudy Gobert is likely on his way there. All three of these players have multiple All-NBA selections with the franchise, as well as All-Star selections and, in Gobert’s case, Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Mark Eaton also has an impressive resume with DPOY awards and All-Defense selections, but his one All-Star team is a small number for this group. Deron Williams had an incredible peak for the Jazz, with two All-Star games and two All-NBA team honors, but his lack of longevity with Utah hurts him again. Donovan Mitchell made three All-Star teams with the Jazz and got a Rookie of the Year award, but he was never an All-NBA player for Utah. Andrei Kirilenko made one All-Star game and had a few All-defense selections but didn’t maintain star-level play for long.

Hornacek, Griffith, and Bailey were not star players for the Jazz. They had some very good, near-star seasons, but without even a single All-Star game, they fall far behind this category.

Retired numbers based purely on accolades:

Definitely: Karl Malone, John Stockton

Likely: Adrian Dantley, Pete Maravich, Rudy Gobert

Unlikely: Mark Eaton, Deron Williams, Donovan Mitchell, Andrei Kirilenko

Definitely not: Jeff Hornacek, Darrell Griffith, Thurl Bailey

Statistical ranks

These stats shown are the players’ ranks in franchise history books. The total numbers are also valuable, but I determined that ranks would show a better picture of each player’s contribution to the franchise for this exercise.

Unsurprisingly, Stockton and Malone are the clear top tier.

After the top two, there’s a significant drop. The next tier has to include Andrei Kirilenko, who ranks in the top ten in Jazz history for each of the five main statistics. Rudy Gobert’s top-ten status in three major stats and top-three in rebounds and blocks stands out. Thurl Bailey also managed three top-ten rankings.

Griffith, Dantley, and Maravich all come in the mid-tier in this category. They all contributed big numbers to the franchise, but not to the same degree as the names mentioned before. Mark Eaton also belongs here because of his dominance in blocks and rebounds.

Hornacek, Williams, and Mitchell take up the rear. Hornacek had more time to rack up stats but didn’t produce big numbers. Williams and Mitchell had star impact on the box scores but didn’t have the longevity to climb the leaderboards.

Retired numbers based purely on statistical ranks:

Definitely: Karl Malone, John Stockton

Likely: Andrei Kirilenko, Rudy Gobert, Thurl Bailey

Unlikely: Adrian Dantley, Pete Maravich, Mark Eaton, Darrell Griffith

Definitely not: Jeff Hornacek, Deron Williams, Donovan Mitchell

All categories combined

After the two greatest players in Jazz history, it’s a mess. Some players had more playoff success, some had more awards, and some had better stats. Using these three categories, only one player was twice in the “likely” category and never in the “definitely not” category. That player is Rudy Gobert. Gobert checks the boxes of playing enough games, winning enough, racking up accolades, and climbing the statistical leaderboards. Gobert is the third most deserving player to have his jersey retired. Since he’s still playing, it will be a while until we know if he’ll get his jersey up there, but based on these comparisons, he should.

The other players to make the “likely” category at least once include Bailey, Kirilenko, Dantley, Maravich, Hornacek, and Eaton. Each has a case, but not a rock-solid one. Hornacek was the third-best player on the best Jazz teams but never a star. Bailey had the longevity and the statistical ranks but was more of a role player. Kirilenko’s stats are impressive, but his peak was too short. Maravich and Dantley have the accolades but not the wins. Eaton has a little bit of everything but not a lot of any one category.

That leaves Griffith, Williams, and Mitchell as the only ones not to make it to “likely” in any of the three categories. They are the first cuts. One has to wonder why Griffith’s jersey was retired in the first place. While he was an exciting rookie for the team, he wasn’t a real star at any point in his career, and he never led the team to many wins. Williams and Mitchell were another case. Both were on track to see their jerseys hanging from the top of the Delta Center, but they didn’t have enough time to make it happen.


If it were up to me, Stockton and Malone would be the only jerseys in the rafters, but the Jazz would have a ring of honor that includes every one of these retired players, as well as honored coaches and other key Jazz contributors like Larry H. Miller and Hot Rod. A Jazz ring of honor could also add players who have been All-Stars for the Jazz, like Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, and so on. Coaches who led the team to the playoffs year after year, like Quin Snyder, could be immortalized with the Jazz without taking away a Jersey number every time. The Phoenix Suns have used a ring of honor for years, so this wouldn’t be a first for the NBA.

But it’s not up to me. Dantley, Hornacek, Maravich, Eaton, and Griffith all have their jerseys retired already. If we were to follow that precedent, Gobert should be a lock. Bailey and Kirilenko could already be up there. They all have as good or better arguments than some currently retired players.

As I said at the beginning, this is all subjective. I’ve tried to analyze it objectively, but it always comes down to opinions. Whoever is in charge sets the rules. The Jazz have a new sheriff in town, so to speak, with the new owner, Ryan Smith. It remains to be seen how Smith will handle jersey retirement, but we know he has put a lot of effort into connecting with former Jazz players. Many Jazz alums have been present at games and events for the Jazz in recent years.

Jazz fans: What do you think? Should the Jazz continue to honor many players with retired jerseys, or should they raise the bar?


How should the Jazz proceed with jersey retirements?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Continue as it is.
    (18 votes)
  • 22%
    Raise the bar, but keep the already retired numbers how they are.
    (40 votes)
  • 55%
    Make a ring of honor and move some of the retired numbers there.
    (98 votes)
  • 11%
    (20 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now