For one exhilarating weekend, Utah was the center of the basketball universe.
Just six months after the original Dream Team began the true globalization of the sport by striking gold at the Barcelona Olympics, Salt Lake City played host to the 1993 NBA All-Star Game.
“It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago,” says former mayor Deedee Corradini.
With the world watching, basketball’s greatest players descended on the still-new Delta Center, where Jazz stars John Stockton and Karl Malone sparkled brightest of all.
After the Western Conference’s 135-132 overtime victory, Stockton and Malone were named co-Most Valuable Players — a fitting tribute for their performance in the game and their joined-at-the-hip careers that eventually landed them in the Hall of Fame.
Stockton finished with nine points and 15 assists. He was dominant in overtime. Malone scored 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and went 11 for 17 from the field.
“I remember it so well,” said Corradini, who is now the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA. “… It was such a great opportunity for us to show off our city, and John and Karl did so well. It was just a great thing for Salt Lake. In many ways, it put us on the map.”
The All-Star Game also ushered in the Jazz’s golden era.
Led by Stockton and Malone, the franchise’s climb from laughingstock to respected contender reached its zenith in the coming years.
Between 1994 and 1998, the Jazz reached the Western Conference finals four times and advanced to the NBA Finals twice — winning an average of 59 regular-season games along the way.
Before the end of their careers, Stockton became the league’s all-time leader in assists and steals. Malone ended up as the No. 2 scorer in NBA history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“I think the All-Star Game made us realize there was something very special happening with John and Karl and the Utah Jazz,” Corradini said. “It was a golden moment in time. … [and] put us on the road to the Olympics.”Next Page »