SPORTS

National Best Friend Day: Best Friend Duos In Utah Sports History

Jun 8, 2022, 1:28 PM
Ron-McBride-Utah-LaVell-Edwards-BYU-Football...
BYU coach LaVell Edwards and Utah Coach Ron McBride greet each other before the game at Rice Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah, Friday, November 24, 2000. (Courtesy of Johanna Workman/Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Johanna Workman/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – In celebration of National Best Friend Day, here is a look at some of the best friend sports duos in Beehive State history.

National Best Friend Day is celebrated annually on June 8.

“It is a day to celebrate friendship and spend some time with your best friend, showing them how much you appreciate them being in your life,” according to Calendarr.com.

Best Friends in Utah Sports

John Stockton & Karl Malone

After getting drafted a year apart, John Stockton and Karl Malone went on to play 18 consecutive years together as the pillars of the Utah Jazz. During that span, the NBA stars also grew a strong friendship.

Stockton, a native of Spokane, Washington and a product of Gonzaga, was selected by Utah with the No. 16 overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft.

The following year, Malone, a native of Summerfield, Lousiana and a product of Lousiana Tech, was drafted by the Jazz with the No. 13 overall pick.

The Stockton-Malone duo propelled the Jazz for nearly two decades and helped the franchise to its only appearances in the NBA Finals.

The iconic pairing won two Olympic gold medals together as members of the Dream Team in 1992 and 1996.

In 1993, Stockton and Malone were honored as co-All-Star Game MVPs following the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.

Following Stockton’s retirement in 2003, Malone left the Jazz to play the final seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The duo is honored with a pair of statues outside of Vivint Arena, the home of the Jazz. Salt Lake City also honored the star players by renaming a couple of streets in their honor.

“He’s literally inseparable for me as a brother,” Stockton said of Malone in March. “I mean, we don’t see each other every day, we talk occasionally on the phone, that term is probably overused, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Karl Malone. And I think there’s, I think he feels the same way.”

LaVell Edwards & Ron McBride

Despite coaching at rival schools, former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards and ex-Utah head coach Ron McBride had a close friendship.

After serving as an assistant, Edwards become BYU’s head coach in 1972. The legendary coach helped the Cougars win the 1984 National Championship and capture 19 conference titles during his tenure.

Prior to becoming Utah’s head coach in 1990, McBride was an offensive line coach for the Utes from 1985-86. During his time as Utah’s head coach, McBride faced Edwards in the rivalry game between the Utes and Cougars for a decade. Throughout the years, the coaches grew a close friendship that remained in retirement.

Edwards coached against McBridge through the 2000 season, when he retired.

Edwards passed away in 2016 at the age of 86. Since Edwards’ passing, McBride, 82, has spoken on numerous occasions about his friendships with his former rival.

Kyle Whittingham & Kalani Sitake

Prior to entering the coaching world, Kyle Whittinham and Kalani Sitake both played college football at BYU. Whittingham played for the Cougars from 1978-81. Sitake played at BYU from 1994, 1997-2000.

After spending two seasons as a graduate assistant at BYU following his playing career with the Cougars, Whittingham served as an assistant at rival Utah from 1994-2004. In 2005, Whittingham was hired as head coach of the Utes.

Following his playing career, Sitake, like Whittingham two decades earlier, was a graduated assistant at BYU in 2002. Following a couple of seasons on the coaching staff at Southern Utah, Sitake was hired by Whittingham as Utah’s linebackers coach. In 2009, Whittingham promoted Sitake to defensive coordinator, a post he held through the 2014 season. In 2015, Sitake was hired as BYU’s head coach.

Despite coaching rival teams since the 2016 season, Whittingham and Sitake has remained close friends and have participated in charity and public events with each other. Whittingham owns a 4-1 rivalry record against his friend and former assistant.

Tyler Huntley & Zack Moss

Before becoming stars at the University of Utah and players in the NFL, Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss were standout players and teammates at Hallandale High School in Florida.

At Hallandale, Huntley passed for 9,053 yards and 106 touchdowns. As a senior, he was named the Florida Gatorade Football Player of the Year.

Moss played at Mater Academy Charter School before playing his final season of high school football with Huntley at Hallandale. The running back originally committed to play college football at Miami before changing his mind and following Huntley to Salt Lake City.

The duo went on to have standout careers for the Utes from 2016-19.

After their careers at Utah, Moss was selected by the Buffalo Bills during the 2020 NFL Draft and Huntley signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens.

Zach Wilson & Dax Milne

Before their time at BYU and in the NFL, Zach Wilson and Dax Milne were childhood friends in Salt Lake County.

Wilson, a native of Draper, Utah, attended Corner Canyon High School before attending BYU from 2018-20. Milne, a native of South Jordan, Utah, went to high school at Bingham High before uniting with his friend with the Cougars in 2018.

Following three standout seasons at BYU, Wilson and Milne both left school early in pursuit of professional football. Wilson was selected by the New York Jets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Two days later, Milne was drafted by the Washington Commanders with the No. 258 pick during the seventh round.

Shortly after their rookie seasons, Wilson and Milne returned to Provo and sat next to each during a BYU men’s basketball game.

Who’s your favorite dynamic duo in Utah sports? Let us know on Twitter by tagging @kslsports.

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National Best Friend Day: Best Friend Duos In Utah Sports History