30 Years Since Jazz Trio Dominate NBA All-Star Game
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Exactly 30 years ago, the 1989 NBA All-Star Game in Houston was one to remember for Utah Jazz fans. The Jazz sent a team-record three representatives to the game, tying the Cleveland Cavaliers for most players in the game.
In the February 12, 1989 edition of basketball’s midseason showcase, John Stockton, Karl Malone and Mark Eaton all donned the Western Conference All-Star jersey (Malone wore number 26 instead of his usual number 32) and made significant impacts in what was the most highly attended All-Star Game up to that point.
Playing in the cavernous AstroDome, over 44,000 basketball fanatics were in attendance.
Malone Wins First All-Star MVP
On the game’s biggest stage, surrounded by the game’s biggest stars, including Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon, Malone ruled the night.
Malone tied Jordan as the game’s high scorer with 28 points as the Western Conference squad prevailed over Jordan’s Eastern Conference team. They won by a final score of 143 to 134.
“The Mailman” was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts.
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After the game, Malone was amazed at how familiar the game felt to a regular-season Jazz game.
“It was just a like a Utah Jazz game that everybody came here to watch,” said Malone. “But we never had this big of a crowd.”
Stockton, Eaton Do Their Thing
In a game that often celebrates the best scorers in the world, Stockton was a key distributor, dishing out 17 assists in his first All-Star Game. He also completed the double-double with 11 points.
He started in place of Magic Johnson, who was out with an injury and was especially proud of his MVP teammate’s performance.
“He earned it,” said Stockton of Malone. “He always tries to give his teammates credit and that’s a tribute to him, but he went out, he earned it, he ran the break whether I was leading it or not. He rebounded and scored off that. He just played a great game.”
While Eaton didn’t take a single shot in nine minutes of action, the 7-foot-4 center rejected two shots and snagged five rebounds in his time on the hardwood. It was the lone All-Star Game appearance of his career.
As the only player without a scoring attempt in the game, Eaton laughed it off when talking to the press afterwards.
“I don’t even know if I touched the ball when we were on offense,” said Eaton with a smile.
A Significant Season In Jazz History
The 1988-89 season was also memorable due to a major coaching change just 17 games into the year. A legend was replaced with another legend, as Frank Layden stepped down and assistant Jerry Sloan became the head coach.
Sloan led the Jazz to a 40-25 record in his first year at the helm and with a 51-31 overall record, the Jazz clinched the Midwest Division for the second time in franchise history.
Despite having three All-Stars on the squad, the Jazz made a quick exit as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs that year. They were swept by the Golden State Warriors in three games.
Still, the All-Star Game and the trio’s performance in the game was the highlight of the year in a strong season for the Jazz.
NBA All-Star Rap Song?
The game also which a cheesy rap song by Ultramagnetic MCs to introduce the players before the game.
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