After 21 seasons with the Utah Jazz, longtime sports performance coach Mark McKown has left the organization, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.
McKown moved to Utah in advance of the 1997-98 season, becoming the Jazz’s first full-time strength and conditioning coach after working with the New York Knicks. Immediately, he formed a working relationship with Karl Malone, becoming legendary late-night workout buddies with the hall-of-fame power forward.
“I’ve been with Karl to Louisiana, across the Rockies, to Alaska. We’ve laughed so hard we were both in tears more times than I could possibly count,” McKown said.
But McKown quickly ingrained himself with the rest of the organization, too. Nearly a decade later, McKown was the best man at Jerry Sloan’s wedding in 2006, and they’d spend weeks together during offseasons at Sloan’s ranch in Illinois. Jeff Hornacek and John Stockton helped find McKown’s wife a teaching job after moving to Utah and later coached his son, he says.
“Making Utah home to my family, establishing friendships that will last a lifetime, and putting my family in position to enjoy life experiences beyond our wildest dreams has been the best part of this experience,” McKown said.
After Sloan retired, the Jazz kept McKown on board. Eventually, in 2015, the team named Isaiah Wright to be its head strength and conditioning coach, giving McKown the role of director of sports science/assistant coach.
Before the 2017-18 season, the Jazz hired Mike Elliott to be their vice president of performance health care. Elliott was previously named the NBA’s strength and conditioning coach of the year in 2014 during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns.
McKown moves on now to become an independent consultant in the field.
“I’ve had over 20 wonderful years with the Jazz, an opportunity for which I will forever be grateful,” McKown said. “The move to Salt Lake in the summer of 1997 put me in the position to work with a host of outstanding coaches and trainers, as well as a long list of incredible players, including the greatest point guard and power forward to ever play the game.”