Utah Jazz legends relive night of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer 35 years later
SALT LAKE CITY — Roughly an hour ahead of the Utah Jazz’s tipoff against the Sacramento Kings, former Jazzman Thurl Bailey zeroed in on a stack of notes at the scorer’s table next to play-by-play announcer Craig Bolerjack on Friday night.
Although Big T’s professional basketball career ended two decades ago, the player-turned-analyst stays engrossed in the game through his current role on the AT&T SportsNet television broadcast team.
However, even at 57-years-old, those memories of competing on the hardwood aren’t close to fading from his mind.
Especially, on the 35-year anniversary of witnessing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the NBA’s all-time scoring leader on April 5, 1984 against the Jazz.
“I was actually on the court and that was a great moment,” said Bailey, who ended with 10 points and five rebounds in Utah’s 129-115 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. “That was a great moment in history to be a part of for one of the greatest players to play the game and to be a part of that history is awesome.
“We had a really good team in that time, and we were kind of in the transition, trying to figure out where we were going to be, but I remember the moment clearly of him sweeping that skyhook across the lane over Mark Eaton,” he continued. “Matter of fact, whenever I see the video or the pictures it’s kind of cool. They beat us that night but even with that, it’s good to be a part of history in some way.”
Abdul-Jabbar nailed his trademark skyhook shot to pass Wilt Chamberlain’s career total of 31,419 points against the Jazz in Las Vegas and his 38,387 points throughout his 20-year career still stands as the all-time record. Utah’s Karl Malone is No. 2 with 36,928 total points.
Former Jazz head coach Frank Layden would lead the Jazz to the second round of the playoffs after finishing 45-37 that same season, but still remembers Abdul-Jabbar’s big shot from the sidelines in Sin City. In an attempt to become more profitable, some Jazz games would get played at Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center instead of the Salt Palace to draw a bigger attendance and more profit during that era.
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