Retiring a jersey number is an incredibly high honor. One that should be reserved only for the elite of the elite and those that had a profound impact on a franchise. For the Utah Jazz, John Stockton and Karl Malone are the obvious examples of this. They spent their entire years with a single franchise (I don't care about those photoshopped pictures of Karl Malone). They made multiple All Star Teams, All NBA Teams, and most importantly made appearances in the NBA Finals. They hold franchise records and NBA records. They are the best of the best for the Utah Jazz.
Here are all of the retired numbers for the Utah Jazz franchise:
- #1 - Frank Layden
- #4 - Adrian Dantley
- #7 - Pete Maravich
- #9 - Larry H Miller
- #12 - John Stockton
- #14 - Jeff Hornacek
- #32 - Karl Malone
- #34 - Darrell Griffith
- #53 - Mark Eaton
- #1223 - Jerry Sloan
- Microphone - Hot Rod Hundley
Whether or not each of those are worthy of having their number retired by the Utah Jazz is a conversation for another day. That’s not the point of my thoughts today. With 11 retired “jerseys”, the Utah Jazz find themselves in the upper middle compared to the rest of the NBA. And that’s just fine. As I said, retired numbers should be saved for only those truly worthy of such a prestigious honor.
But that doesn’t mean other significant franchise players shouldn’t be honored. There have been several other players come through the organization that absolutely deserve some sort of honor for their time and work put in as a Jazzman.
Enter a Franchise Hall of Fame.
This would allow other players to be recognized for the significant contributions and their legacy cemented in Jazz history and amongst fans. I’m talking about those guys who spent a majority of their career in Salt Lake, or are high in the ranks of franchise statistical categories, or other arguable criteria. This could be done by a selection committee, fan and media voting, specific criteria for eligibility, or a combination of all of the above. I’d love to see 1 player per year elected into the Hall of Fame, assuming those with retired numbers are automatically inducted.
As examples, here are the 5 players I see as most deserving of receiving higher honor by the franchise. This isn’t ALL players I see as worthy, just the top 5. This also doesn’t include current players, where Rudy Gobert has probably already qualified.
1) Andrei Kirilenko
7th in games played, 5th in minutes played, 9th in total rebounds, 5th in assists, 4th in steals, 2nd in blocks, 6th in points, 4th in win shares, 2nd in BPM, 3rd in VORP. Need I say more? AK47 would be such the perfect playmaking 4 in today’s NBA. Adding to his resume is also the All Star selection in 2004. The jack-of-all trades forward will always be one of my favorite players in franchise history.
2) Thurl Bailey
Some might see Thurl as a surprise, but you really shouldn’t. This guy was a beast in his day. 5th in games played, 6th in minutes played, 8th in rebounds, 6th in blocks, 5th in points. Thurl Bailey was an incredible 6th man for a long time, and absolutely should have won the award in 1988 and/or 1999. Combing those 2 seasons he averaged 19.5 points, 6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 blocks. Off the bench! Also, his contributions in the community and for the franchise since his retirement deserve recognition as well.
3) Deron Williams
D-WILL!! Boy did that end badly. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t the face of the franchise for several years. 4th in assists, 9th in points, 9th in win shares, 10th in BPM, 7th in VORP. The main thing holding Deron back is his longevity. He only played 5.5 seasons in a Jazz jersey. But those were a huge 5.5 years! Two All Star selections and a conference finals appearance as well. Not to mention some of the filthiest crossovers the NBA has ever seen. This guy was arguably the best point guard in the league while in Utah.
4) Rickey Green
Rickey Green is often forgotten because John Stockton took the starting point guard mantle, and well the rest is history. But Rickey Green was a baller in his own right. He played 8 seasons for the Utah Jazz and is 9th in games played, 3rd in assists, 3rd in steals, and 9th in VORP. Plus, he received an All Star bid with the Jazz back in 1984. The Jazz weren’t a great team during his time here, but he was an exciting player and helped bridge the team to the successful years. He was known for being one of the fastest players in the league.
5) Derrick Favors
I know D Favs is still playing basketball, but I presume his time as a Jazz player has come to a close. And with that, he finds himself on this list. Interesting that the other half of the Deron Williams trade also finds himself in the Utah Jazz Hall of Fame. Derrick Favors came here in his rookie year and played 9 seasons with Utah. He’s 9th in games played, 4th in rebounds, 7th in blocks, 4th in FG%, and 8th in win shares. Those stats would certainly have been better without his willingness to sacrifice personal acclaim for the betterment of the team.
Honorable Mentions: Paul Millsap, Bryon Russell, Mehmet Okur, Gordon Hayward (statistically), and Carlos Boozer