Utah Jazz All Last Dance Team
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – ESPN is currently airing “The Last Dance” documentary. The 10 part series covering the life of Michael Jordan and final season in a Chicago Bulls uniform. As the Bulls dynasty was coming to an end it became a popular destination for aging stars looking for one final shot at winning a championship. Veterans like John Salley, James Edwards, and Robert Parish all won rings towards the end of their careers in Chicago. But the Bulls weren’t the only team to sign players in the twilight of their careers hoping to push a franchise over the championship hump. This is the Utah Jazz All Last Dance team.
The Utah Jazz All Last Dance Team
John Starks: Point Guard
John Starks has been heavily featured in “The Last Dance” documentary. Though his ’90s New York Knicks roster could never overcome Jordan’s Bulls, Stars tough style of play was admirable.
After eight seasons with the Knicks, Starks finished his career with stops in Golden State, Chicago, and finally Utah. The guard was a steady backup for John Stockton for two seasons, though no championship could be had. Starks averaged 9.3 points and 2.4 assists in his first season in Utah before a steep drop in his final season.
Starks retired at age 36 without a ring, like many whose fate was determined by Jordan and the Bulls.
Joe Johnson: Shooting Guard
You would be hard-pressed to find a more beloved Jazz player who spent less time in Utah than Joe Johnson. The seven-time All-Star spent played just 110 games in Utah but proved his value in one postseason series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Johnson averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Jazz in his first season in Utah. However, Johnson’s biggest impact came in game one buzzer-beater against the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. After losing Rudy Gobert to a knee injury, Johnson carried the Jazz with 21 points on 9-14 shooting.
The big guard was phased out of the rotation in his second season and eventually asked to be traded. The Jazz granted his wish, and Johnson would eventually end his career with the Houston Rockets. Unfortunately, like Starks, Johnson never took home a championship trophy.
Josh Howard: Small Forward
Perhaps less in the category of looking for a championship, Josh Howard simply wanted to extend his career in Utah. The one-time Dallas Mavericks All-Star sign with the Jazz in the summer of 2011 at the end of the NBA lockout.
Howard tore his ACL in Washington the year before and wanted to prove he could get back to the NBA. The forward played 43 games for the Jazz and averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 23 minutes per game.
After one unremarkable season with the Jazz, Howard signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The forward suffered another torn ACL before being waived by Minnesota, ending his career. In a cruel twist of fate, Howard was traded by the Mavericks to the Wizards just before they won the 2011 NBA championship. Howard, like Johnson and Starks, would retire ringless.
Danny Manning: Power Foward
The Jazz spent most of Karl Malone’s career looking for an adequate frontcourt teammate for the hall of fame big man. Meanwhile, Danny Manning spent his career looking for a championship ring. The two sides would join forces in 2000 with both the Jazz and Manning at the end of their championship windows.
Manning averaged 7.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 82 games off the bench for the Jazz. However, the forward couldn’t prove to be the missing piece for the Jazz. The Mavericks eliminated the Jazz in five games in the 2001 playoffs.
The two-time All-Star made stops in Dallas and Detroit chasing a deep playoff run, but never could breakthrough with a ring.
Darryl Dawkins: Center
Darryl Dawkins might be the strangest player to make the Jazz All Last Dance team. Chocolate Thunder spent just four games with the Jazz in 1987 after a trade with the New Jersey Nets. However, injuries derailed the big man’s career and he never regained his productive form over the final three seasons of his career.
Dawkins averaged 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in four games with the Jazz before being traded to the Detroit Pistons. Though he rarely saw the floor, Dawkins won a ring with the “Bad Boy” Pistons in 1989, the final season of his career.
Dishonorable Mention: Mark Jackson
Not all veteran signings are a perfect marriage. One-time All-Star Mark Jackson signed with the Jazz in 2003, the final year of the Stockton and Malone era. Though Jackson appeared in all 82 games averaging 4.7 points and 4.6 rebounds, his negative influence on the locker room took its toll.
Jackson created a divide between the younger players on the roster and the aging Stockton and Malone, arguing he was better suited to lead the team. In retirement, Jackson continued to air his frustration over the franchise’s favoritism to one time superstars.
The one-time rookie of the year would finish his career with the Houston Rockets in 2004. Jackson now serves as a broadcaster for ESPN. Jackson’s poor fit in Utah earned his the dishonorable mention on the Jazz All Last Dance roster.