The opening of NBA preseason means one thing – several long weeks of waiting before we get the party started. Face it Jazz fan, you can only re-watch Jazz v. Lakers in Hawaii so many times before the mind starts to go south. But no worries! Lower the Rim happily provides you the salve for your rank, festering, decades-old belly rash, or as it is known in some circles: the NBA preseason. So without further fluff, we present to you — drum roll — the All-Time Jazz Player Top-Ten by Position List! POW!
Resistance to the ranked list is futile… And I can sense your bored brains already working to construct your own (incorrect) lists. So here’s the approach before you get too far: To be considered, a player must have played at least two years with the Utah Jazz (not the NO Jazz – nobody cares about them). All attributes of a candidate’s game are considered including whether they won or not, league accolades reflecting greatness, overall impact on the franchise, etc., etc.
Now you stultified Jazz followers will likely be able to guess quickly and correctly the top 2 or 3 players at each position. The question is who comes in 9th or 10th – so we’ll start there and give you 2 or so more each day until we tip off.
The Greatest Jazz Small Forwards
#10 Tyrone Corbin (1991-1994)
The Jazz were just one of the 36 teams Corbin played for during his 72-year NBA playing career – at least it seemed that way. The Milk Man was the solid but dull wing for the Jazz in the run-up years to the NBA Finals seasons. A good midrange shooter (I don’t think he took a three in the first 40 years of his career), he did the dirty work the Jazz needed with the picks and the pops. More famous for his milk-laden pencil mustache from a local “Got Milk” commercial than any aspect of his basketball game (he was a 12 and 6 guy in his best year with the Jazz), he barely beats out the Junk Yard Dog and Kelly Tripucka for 10th.
#9 David Benoit (1991-1996, 2000-2001)
Benoit for three! David Benoit was a high-flying skinny small forward – think Jeremy Evans before Jeremy Evans. Benoit was not a great 3-point shooter, however, and most older Jazz fans will remember him principally for missing those wide open baseline 3’s in the final game of the NBA semi-finals as the Jazz went down to the eventual champion Houston Rockets. His numbers were extremely average – a 10 and 5 guy at best – but Benoit was the starting small forward for two good Jazz teams from 94-96 and could electrify on the break and at the rim.
#8 – Blue Edwards (1989-1992, 1994-95)
Blue Edwards was one of the more athletic wings the Jazz have had – great leaper, great dunker. Hot Rod used to describe his decent from the rim after a slam as “parachuting down.” – but he was quite average beyond the high flying. He had a good final year with the Jazz in 94-95 starting 81 games that season and posting good supporting numbers to Malone and Stockton’s monster stats. Great name to chant after a highlight finish at the rim gets him extra points.
#7 – Allan Bristow (1979-1981)
Allan who? Allan Bristow you idiot… what kind of NBA fan are you? You remember Allan “Disco” Bristow out of Virginia Tech – come on! OK, go ahead and scoff if you like, but Bristow was a solid guy who could score a bit, rebound more than a bit, and pass like a guard. Playing all 82 for the Jazz off the bench during their inaugural season in Utah, Bristow posted 14 points, 8 rebounds, and over 5 assists per game with starter minutes – he would have made all of your-all’s fantasy teams… if you’d been alive back then and if they’d had fantasy leagues of course. He went for almost 7 assists per game the next season. Sure the Jazz lost almost every game they played those two years, but is wasn’t all Bristow’s fault.
#6 – Bryon Russell (1993-2002)
Byron… errr… I mean Bryon Russell was a mainstay at the wing for the Jazz in the glory years of the mid to late 90’s. During that time Russell oscillated between starter and first man off the bench, but he always got starter minutes. His stats were not grand – he was playing with the likes of Malone, Stockton, and Horny remember – but he was solid on both ends of the court. The film loop of Jordon pushing Russell away for the jumper to finish the Jazz up in 1998 is forever burned into Jazz Fan psyche. He was never a match for Air Jordon – but good enough to be in the middle of this list.
#5 – John Drew (1982-1985)
The Human Highlight Film – Dominique Wilkins – was a Jazz Man… at least for a bit. The story of John Drew with the Jazz starts there. The Jazz selected Wilkins third in the 1982 draft and promptly traded him to Atlanta for Drew, Freeman Williams and a cold million in cash. So Gordon Hayward makes that much in a couple of weeks these days, but back then the Jazz were in such dire financial straights that they needed the money to make payroll. At least that’s the reason spun at the time for the Jazz getting fleeced by then permed-haired Mike Fratello and the Hawks. John Drew, or the Gun Slinger as labeled by Hot Rod, was still a player when he came to Utah. But he was a player with a habit that eventually cost him his career. And yet, although battling addiction, Drew made a difference in his three years with the Jazz. His once impressive rebounding powers had dwindled but he could still score averaging over 21 points per game in 82-83. He scored over 30 seven times that year with one 40-point game against Cleveland that included 19 trips to the free-through line. Drew could score in bunches and had games where he seemed unstoppable. We hear that Drew is driving taxi down in Houston – clean, we hope – but NBA All-Star to cabbie in Texas is a harsh reminder to all to let that cocaine be.