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With the NBA playoffs about to begin, the Utah Jazz are back in the thick of the battle.
It's quite remarkable, really, in view of the complete makeover the team has undergone since the glory days of Stockton and Malone. Their departure in 2003 could easily have resulted in frustrating years of rebuilding and languishing among the also-rans of the league. Unlike so many other premier franchises, however, that hasn't been the case with the Jazz.
Following just a couple of lean years, last year they rode a talented stable of young players to the division championship and advanced to the conference finals. As Deseret News columnist Doug Robinson wrote recently, "In three short years, they tore down one of the NBA's best teams and built another one in its place."
Credit the vision and patience, as well as the wallet of owner Larry Miller, along with the expertise of his front office staff. And don't overlook the continuity and stability of Jerry Sloan, currently the longest tenured coach in major professional sports.
While it is impossible to predict where this year's playoff run will lead, all Jazz fans can take heart that the playoff drought didn't last long and the future for this oft-underrated franchise looks bright.