UTAH JAZZ

Should Jazz Retire Number 27 For Rudy Gobert?

Aug 3, 2022, 5:11 PM
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert dunks (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)...
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert dunks (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Should the Utah Jazz retire the number 27 jersey worn by Rudy Gobert when he decides he’s done playing in the NBA?

After nine seasons in Utah, the Jazz sent Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in early July in a blockbuster trade that saw five rotation players return to Salt Lake City, plus a significant haul of future draft capital.

Will Gobert’s number 27 eventually hang in the rafters, never to be worn again by a Jazz player? Let’s look at his resume and the Jazz history of retiring numbers.

Prior Retired Uniform Numbers

As it stands, the Jazz have nine former players who have had their jerseys retired. Here they are in numerical order.

  • #1: Frank Layden (Coach and Executive)
  • #4: Adrian Dantley
  • #7: Pete Maravich
  • #9: Larry Miller (Team Owner)
  • #12: John Stockton
  • #14: Jeff Hornacek
  • #32: Karl Malone
  • #35: Darrell Griffith
  • #53: Mark Eaton

Jerry Sloan has also been commemorated by the team with the number 1223 retired to acknowledge his win total as a head coach.

The Jazz’s nine retired numbers between 00-99 are more than 17 other teams in the NBA, a significant lot considering only they are the 13th youngest team in the league.

The Boston Celtics (23) have the most retired numbers in the league, while the Charlotte Hornets and New Orleans Pelicans each have only one.

The Jazz’s relatively high number is due to two competing concepts.

First, they’ve had an inordinate number of Hall of Famers in their limited existence with Pete Maravich, Adrian Dantley, John Stockton, and Karl Malone all enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Second, the Jazz have a relatively low bar for non-Hall of Famers who have had their jerseys retired by the team.

In 1993, the Jazz retired number 35 for Darrell Griffth despite his relatively short career. Griffith appeared in 765 games for the Jazz, only 412 of which he started.

While Griffith remains the only Jazzman to ever win Rookie of the Year and held the NBA record for career made three-pointers when he retired, he was never elected to an All-NBA team nor an All-Star team, and never played in a Conference Finals.

Jeff Hornacek played in even fewer games for the Jazz, appearing in just 477 games over a six-and-a-half-year period in the 90s. Hornacek averaged 14.4 points and 4.0 assists during his tenure with the Jazz, and helped the team earn two Western Conference titles, but never made an All-Star game in Utah nor was he named to any All-NBA teams.

The guard had his number retired by the Jazz in 2002.

Mark Eaton has the best resume among non-Hall of Fame Jazzmen to have their number retired. The big man won two Defensive Player of the Year awards, made five All-Defensive teams, led the league in blocks in four different seasons, and earned an All-Star nod in 1989.

After 11 seasons in Utah, Eaton’s number was retired by the Jazz in 1995.

Should Jazz Retire Number 27 for Gobert?

A look at the resumes of players who have had their numbers retired by the Jazz makes Gobert seem like a lock to have his jersey enshrined in the rafters upon his retirement.

Gobert’s 611 games in a Jazz uniform are more than Hornacek’s 477, his 519 starts are more than Griffith’s 412, and his three Defensive Player of the Year awards, six All-Defensive teams, four All-NBA appearances, and three All-Star nods all easily outpace Eaton.

In fact, Gobert’s resume compares favorably to both Maravich (5X All-Star, 4X All-NBA) and Dantley (6X All-Star, 2X All-NBA), each of whom has been inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Barring a serious fallout between Gobert and the team that drafted him, the number 27 should unquestionably hang in the Vivint Arena rafters upon his retirement.

Perhaps the only question remaining is whether he’ll play well enough in Minnesota to have his number retired by two franchises.

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