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Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dantley finally gets his due

Utah Jazz retire prolific scorer’s No. 4

April 12, 2007

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— Before John Stockton and Karl Malone, the Utah Jazz had Adrian Dantley.

The Jazz finally got around to honoring Dantley - the team's career leader in scoring average - 21 years after he was traded from the franchise he helped save.

Utah retired Dantley's No. 4 on Wednesday, hanging it from the rafters in an arena that didn't even exist when he was playing in Utah.

"He started it all. The other guys all came later," said Frank Layden, Dantley's former coach.

Dantley, now an assistant coach in Denver, was honored Wednesday during halftime of the Nuggets' game with the Jazz. After several speeches, Dantley got a standing ovation from the fans and players from both teams, who had come out of the locker room for the ceremony.

"I waited a long time," said Dantley, who was interrupted by applause several times.

Dantley played for the Jazz from 1979 - their first season in Utah - through 1986.

The giant No. 4 with the original purple, gold and green trim hangs just to the right of Malone's No. 32 and two down from Stockton's No. 12.

Stockton was Dantley's teammate for his first two seasons, when he was an unknown reserve and long before he became the NBA's all-time leader in assists and steals. Stockton returned to town for the ceremony and thanked Dantley on behalf of his former teammates.

"We all learned a lot from you and we appreciate it," Stockton said.

Jazz owner Larry Miller admitted that the gesture was long overdue for Dantley, who was the cornerstone in the Jazz's transition from one of the worst teams in the league to a perennial playoff contender.

Dantley's scoring average of 29.6 points is 4.2 higher than that of Malone - the second-leading scorer in league history. His shooting percentage of 56.2 also tops all Jazz players.

Dantley still ranks third in Jazz history in total points (13,635), trailing only Malone and Stockton, despite playing only seven of his 15 NBA seasons here.

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