The identity of a franchise was molded around John Stockton and Karl Malone. Later, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer contorted into those positions, carrying on a proud lineage of a dominant pick-and-roll tandem.
When Boozer left for the Chicago Bulls in 2010, though, that tradition was in flux. The Utah Jazz had the point guard, but needed the big man. Enter Al Jefferson.
"I got a different game from the pick and roll, from Karl Malone and John Stockton, D-Will and Boozer," Jefferson said. "I had the post-up, back-to-the-basket game."
With Williams and the Brooklyn Nets in Salt Lake City on Saturday for the second time since being abruptly traded in 2011, Jefferson said he doesn't "live in the past," but admitted he felt he and Williams could have been a dynamic pairing with the Jazz.
Even one in a famous tradition.
"Right when me and D-Will was getting that pick-and-roll stuff down good, because we worked on it a lot," Jefferson said, "he got traded."
Williams entered Saturday's game against the Jazz averaging 18.2 points and 7.6 assists per game, and of late has resembled the player Jefferson thought he would be playing with when the Jazz acquired him in the summer of 2010.
"I was just excited to be around a winning program," Jefferson said. "Coach Sloan, legendary coach, a great point guard and a lot of other great teammates. It was cool."
It was also brief. A pairing the Jazz saw as its next duo was broken up after just 57 games and when Williams' rift with coach Jerry Sloan resulted in Sloan's sudden resignation.
Jefferson said he was initially surprised Williams was booed in his one Utah appearance last year "just because he had a good career here."
However, "once I thought about it I could understand why it happened," Jefferson said. "A lot of people were kind of bitter about what went down."
Enes Kanter carefully unlaced his shoes with one hand. Before the Jazz's game against the Nets, the second-year Jazz center wore his practice uniform, his left arm in a sling and tucked inside a blue mesh jersey. In an effort to stay in shape, Kanter, who dislocated his left shoulder in Wednesday's win over Phoenix, was off to find a stationary bike.
"Just trying to keep myself in shape for summer," Kanter said.
Summer? Does that mean the big man doesn't intend to play in the final eight games of the regular season?
"We'll see," Kanter said, following it up by saying he was about meet with a doctor and get an update.
For the time being, Kanter is officially out indefinitely.
In January, Kanter missed two games with a sprained right ankle, his first significant time since joining the Jazz as a rookie last season. However, he said missing games with injury is similar to sitting out a year at Kentucky after the NCAA ruled him ineligible for accepting excess benefits.
"I just sat on the bench," Kanter said, "and now I'm sitting on the bench again. Still a mystery man."
Saying no mo'
After scoring 28 points and leading the Jazz to a pivotal 105-95 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, Mo Williams said he was "pissed off" by coach Tyrone Corbin's decision to keep him on the bench for the entire second quarter and that it spurred him on to a big finish to the game.
On Saturday, Williams said he was past those feelings.
"He's the coach," Williams said of Corbin. "He makes those decisions. No player on this team dictates when they go in and when they come out."
Corbin, who played 17 years in the NBA, brushed off questions about the possibility of a rift between he and Williams.
"I would always be upset when I didn't play," Corbin said. "I understand that completely."