During the 96/97 Finals season the Utah Jazz played Washington twice, and won both times. In Utah the Jazz blew out the Bullets, with Utah’s big three all playing a mere 23 minutes. Next time around (with the Jazz being a 48-17 team at that point) the Jazz needed a Stockton double-double and a Malone 32 point outing to beat the Washington team.
The Bullets had an interesting roster that year, which included starters Rod Strickland, Juwan Howard, George Muresan, a young Chris Webber, and, at shooting guard, Calbert Cheaney.
Cheaney was born in Indiana, went to the University of Indiana (where he won all honours imaginable, really), and got drafted 6th overall by the Washington Wizards (nay, Bullets). He played there until 1999, then moved to the Celtics, Nuggets, and then the Utah Jazz.
Cheaney started for the Jazz alongside Matt Harpring, Greg Ostertag, Karl Malone, and John Stockton. In his first match he scored 18 points, only eclipsed on the Jazz’s side by Harpring’s 19, followed by Ostertag’s 16 (how about that, eh?).
It would be his season high.
With Harpring and Cheaney the Jazz had two players who mastered the curl play. The curl play was a staple in the Jazz offense, where the wing curled around a screen, freeing them up to do a catch-and-shoot around the free throw line for an open mid-range jumper.
That was his art, the mid-range game. One can wonder if Cheaney would have had a career in the current NBA, in which the mid-range game isn’t valued nearly as much. Some statistic-minded people would even say it’s a totally inefficient way to play the game, as opposed to points in the point or shots from outside the arc.
Cheaney only attempted a three-point shot in 22 games that season.
In his last match with the Jazz he didn’t play with Chris Webber but against him. Webber scored 26 points for the Kings. Cheaney went scoreless in 19 minutes.
That’s not why Jazz fans remember that game.