In the coming days I will countdown the 10 players with the biggest impact in Utah Jazz franchise history. Today we start at number 10:
Thurl “Big ‘T’” Bailey has been a very important part of the Utah Jazz for a long time. The Utah Jazz selected Bailey with the 7th pick of the 1983 NBA draft, right after Bailey and the rest of the NC State Wolfpack had upset Akeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and the Houston Cougars in the 1983 NCAA championship game.
Bailey went on to spend his first 9 years with Utah and became a key part of an offense that included John Stockton and Karl Malone. It was during this time that Thurl and the Jazz were starting to become a contender in the Western Conference. The Jazz would go on to make the conference finals and push the mighty Los Angeles Lakers to a game 7 which was a huge stepping stone in franchise history.
The Jazz constantly seek to sign players who are representative of the community. Thurl, like most in Utah, is a family oriented, Christian man. Bailey’s nickname isn’t just a reflection of his frame (6’10”), but also of his heart. The day the Jazz held the press conference announcing the trade that would send Thurl to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jazz owner Larry H. Miller was brought to tears.
During Bailey’s time with the Jazz (83-92, 98-99) he became a fan favorite on and off the floor. He averaged 13.5 PPG, 5.36 RPG and was selected to the All-NBA rookie team in his first season. His time spent serving the community in non-profit organizations and giving back to Jazz fans have made him one of the most beloved players any sport in the state of Utah. Thurl continues to work with the Jazz as a TV analyst for most Jazz games.