After years of controversy, No. 4 will hang from rafters
By Steve Luhm
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:02/09/2007 12:36:20 AM MST
Jazz owner Larry Miller ended one of the longest-running controversies in franchise history Thursday, when the team announced it will retire Adrian Dantley's number.
For years, Miller resisted honoring Dantley, the No. 3 scorer in Jazz history who was also at the center of some highly publicized disputes with management during seven seasons in Utah.
On his weekly radio show on KZN-AM, Miller admitted, "There was some baggage. I don't want to hide that."
Nearly 21 years after Dantley's stay in Utah ended with a trade to Detroit, however, bygones have finally become bygones.
The Jazz will retire No. 4 on April 11, when they play Denver at EnergySolutions Arena.
Miller called Dantley on Wednesday to tell him of the team's intention.
"At first, it didn't compute with him," Miller said. "[But] by the end of the conversation, it was really fun. At the end he said, 'This is really good.' He seemed genuinely pleased."
Dantley is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with Denver. The Nuggets were traveling Thursday to a game at Indiana and he could not be reached for comment.
Dantley will be the sixth player to have his number retired by the Jazz, joining Pete Maravich (No. 7), Darrell Griffith (No. 35), Mark Eaton (No. 53), Jeff Hornacek (No. 14), Karl Malone (No. 32) and John Stockton (No. 12).
The Jazz also retired No. 1 in honor of long-time coach, general manager and team president Frank Layden.
Oddly, Dantley's feuds with Layden were a major reason his number has not already been retired.
Years ago, however, Layden endorsed the idea of honoring his former player.
According to Miller, Stockton and Malone also encouraged him to do so.
The Jazz acquired Dantley from the Lakers for Spencer Haywood on Sept. 13, 1979 - just before the start of the franchise's first season in Utah.
"Adrian came to the Jazz when they really needed some credibility," Miller said. "I remember in the early days, sitting there and saying to Gail, 'Boy, this is not worth coming to. I don't know any of the players, just the other team.' Adrian brought that to [the Jazz]."
Dantley became a two-time scoring champion with the Jazz, who went to the playoffs for the first time when he averaged 30.6 points a game in 1983-84.
Said Miller: "When I think of Adrian, I think of post up moves, low post moves, back to the basket, turn and get fouled and put the ball in the basket. Adrian had the physical strength to put the ball in after a foul. Boy, he had a lot of two-and-ones."
Asked to explain his reasoning for not retiring Dantley's number sooner, Miller said, "Most of the people who were for his jersey retirement were looking at his total stats. But he played only half his career here. I think it's clear he should be in the Hall of Fame but, when it comes to jersey retirement, are we doing it on behalf of the league or on behalf of the Jazz?"
". . . About every third year it seemed to rear its head. Typically, my response [was], 'Just in a Jazz uniform, it's about half [his career].' Then, after Jeff [Hornacek] retired, we retired his jersey and people said, 'Well, you retired Jeff's jersey and he played less than half his career with the Jazz.' Good point."
Dantley was an All-American at Notre Dame and a member of the United States' gold-medal Olympic team in 1976.
The Buffalo Braves made him the No. 6 pick in the NBA draft, but ended up playing for seven teams during a 15-year career.
In his seven seasons in Utah, Dantley scored 13,635 points, including a 57-point performance against Chicago on Dec. 4, 1982.
After the Jazz drafted Stockton in 1984 and Malone in 1985 and determined those two young players were the future cornerstones of the franchise, they traded Dantley and a pair of second-round draft picks to Detroit on Aug. 21, 1986 for Kelly Tripucka and Kent Benson.
Dantley finished his career with 23,177 points, which ranks him 18th among all-time NBA scorers.
I'm real happy about this... People forget just how good A.D. was... He and Rickey Green.. those were the days. Jazz were just so bad... so extremely small market with no respect or chance in hell to do anything. Man... they rode A.D.'s back, he took them to the playoffs. The Jazz had a whole entirely different feel back then, it was as if they were the biggest underdogs in the world and A.D. was just like some kind of basketball god that every Jazz fan had to love cuz he was just so dominant and finally gave Utah some kind of credibility. I'm almost 32 and was just a kid back then, he's what got me interested in basketball. Back then, to play a team like the Laker's seemed impossible to win, they were so amazing, and they had the salary to pay all the huge names, the Jazz had a bunch of hard working second and third tier players that just didn't have the natural gifts of many players on the big market teams. To beat a good team was a major deal back then from what I remember. It was great to see the Jazz start to beat up a few teams like that with their blue collar businessmen and Rickey and A.D.
what jersey will it be? the old school one or the green one they have been selling in fanzz for a year. actually when they retire jerseys they always have the home white one right?
Probably, but I'm not sure, my personal preference would be for them to break form and use the old green and gold as that's how I always remember him and the old glory days... oh.. and the old Salt Palace arena, that also belonged to Dantley.
Said longtime Jazz assistant coach and scout David Fredman, "Anybody who knows Adrian Dantley and knows what he did on the basketball court knows he belongs in the Hall of Fame. The fact he isn't in yet speaks more to the credibility of the process."
"As far as taking care of himself and being ready to play - day in and day out - I have never seen anybody do a better job of that," Eaton said. "On the court, I'll just say this: If you're going to write a book on the fundamentals of basketball and how to execute those fundamentals, A.D. would be your poster child. He spent so much time and was such a perfectionist working on the court, it was unbelievable."
* March 29, 1981 - Finished the season as the NBA scoring champion (30.7 ppg).
* Dec. 4, 1982 - Scored a career-high 57 points against Chicago.
* Jan. 4, 1984 - Tied NBA record by making 28 free throws in a game against Houston.
* He ended up as the Jazz's No. 3 scorer - behind Karl Malone and John Stockton - and he owns three of the six highest-scoring games in franchise history, including a career-best 57 against Chicago in 1982-83.
* A two-time NBA scoring champion and six-time All-Star during his seven years with the Jazz, Dantley averaged 29.6 points in 461 games.
Last edited by Chalkmaze : 04-11-2007 at 12:14 PM.
<snip>Dantley, who had to suffer through being a finalist in six of the past seven years before finally getting the nod. Dantley, who's currently a Nuggets assistant coach, was so used to being stuck as the bridesmaid that he almost didn't answer the phone when the Hall called on Thursday. From the Denver Post:
Dantley found out Thursday. "He's a funny cat, because he didn't want to take the phone call because he thought he was going to get rejected again," [Nuggets coach George] Karl said. "I kept saying: 'Tell him to take the phone call! It's gonna be a yes!' "
Dantley never has been shy about talking about his apprehension to answering the phone when the Hall calls. "Every time around the last week of March, I start feeling kind of funny, seeing whether they are going to say yea or nay," Dantley said in an interview with The Post in February. "It's a weird feeling when the guys say, 'Sorry you didn't make it, you're eligible for next year.' . . . The last couple of years I haven't even answered my phone."
I think part of the reason it was easy to overlook Dantley's contributions to the game is because he spent the bulk of his prime years in relative obscurity with the (pre-Stockton/Malone era) Utah Jazz. But he retired as one of the league's top 10 scorers of all-time, and he's still in the top 20. Had he played in the spotlight of a major market like New York, he'd have been a shoe-in years ago.</snip>
* Feb. 28, 1956: Born in Washington, D.C.
* March, 1973: Plays his final game for legendary coach Morgan Wooten at DeMatha High, which went 57-2 during Dantley's prep career
* Jan. 19, 1974: A freshman starter when Notre Dame defeated UCLA, 71-70, and snapped the Bruins' NCAA-record 88-game winning streak
* June, 1976: Selected in the first round of the NBA draft (sixth overall) by the Buffalo Braves
* July 17-30, 1976: Leading scorer (19.3 ppg) on the gold-medal winning United States' Olympic team in Montreal
* May, 1977: Named the NBA Rookie of the Year
* Sept. 1, 1977: Along with Mike Bantom, traded by Buffalo to Indiana for Billy Knight
* Dec. 13, 1977: Along with Dave Robisch, traded by Indiana to the L.A. Lakers for James Edwards, Earl Tatum and cash
* Sept. 13, 1979: Traded by the L.A. Lakers to the Utah Jazz for Spencer Haywood
* Dec. 4, 1982: Scored a career-high 57 points during a 131-124 win over Chicago at the Salt Palace
* Jan. 4, 1984: Tied an NBA record for most free throws made in a game (28) in a 116-11 win over Houston in Las Vegas
* May, 1984: Named the NBA Comeback Player of the Year
* May 8, 1984: During a 118-106 playoff win over Phoenix, scored 31 points in the first half, tying a Jazz playoff record. He finished with 46 points, the second-most in Utah postseason history.
* Aug. 21, 1986: Along with two future second-round draft picks, traded by Utah to the Detroit Pistons for Kelly Tripucka and Kent Benson
* Dec. 10, 1986: Set an NBA record for most free throws made in a quarter (14) in a game between Detroit and Sacramento
* Feb. 15, 1989: Along with a future first-round draft pick, traded by Detroit to Dallas for Mark Aguirre
* April 2, 1991: Signed as a free agent by the Milwaukee Bucks
* April 11, 2007: His jersey (No. 4) is retired by the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena at halftime of a game against Denver, where Dantley is an assistant coach
* April 7, 2008: Dantley is elected into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
"Wilt Chamberlain once said Adrian Dantley was the best pivot man he ever saw."
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Adrian Dantley's long wait is nearly over.
Dantley will be enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night, after taking his first step toward professional immortality during a special ceremony this morning.
"The fans in Utah, they were great, too. I love the fans in Utah. Utah is always going to be my home. They treated me great and, anybody who treats me great, I'm going to treat them great."
During his induction speech, however, Dantley was probably alluding to Thomas when he said, "I'm happy to join a new team [in the Hall of Fame], where an owner, general manager, coach or player-coach can't trade me."
You mentioned AD and Rickey Green a couple times. I think Griffith should be mentioned with Rickey certainly.
(Edited as I read it wrong the first time)
Yeah, I suppose you could include The Golden Griff, he had those crazy hit the ceiling rainbow 3's. He had his place on those teams, mostly being the shooter, that could also slash and create his shot at times. For some reason I was never too excited about him though, he was pretty decent and defintely did some damage at times, just was on a different level then those other guys, we could also talk about Bobby Hansen and Thrul Bailey too.
Last edited by Chalkmaze : 09-06-2008 at 10:31 PM.