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New Orleans Jazz - Year Three

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New Orleans Jazz - Year Three
        The 1976-77 Season

The 1976-77  season began with much promise, as the team acquired Hall of Fame guard Gail Goodrich from the Lakers for a subsequent first-round pick. As it turned out, this was a very bad move on the part of the Jazz, for with that very same pick the Lakers drafted a player by the name of Earvin “Magic” Johnson. The team also drafted workman-like forward Paul Griffin. But the biggest news was the firing of head coach Butch van Breda Kolff two months into the season. VBK had brought the team a respectable record (he was 14-12 at the time of his firing), and his personality fit in well with the fun-loving people of New Orleans, but he and management didn’t see eye-to-eye. Most fans were incensed at his firing; some going so far as to distribute “crying hankies” emblazoned with his name at the first home game following his departure.

Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor took over the team, becoming (at that time) one of the few African-American coaches in the league’s history. The coaching change was for naught, as the team played at about the same level it did the previous year, finishing 35-47. Pete Maravich once again was the clear leader of the team. In a February 25 win over the Knicks, he scored 68 points, and wound up leading the league in points that year, with a 31.1 ppg average. Once again, he played in the NBA All-Star game and was selected to the All-NBA First Team. Teammate E.C. Coleman also received post-season honors, being named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. Attendance was down a bit that year, but still a respectable 10,833 per game average (12th in the NBA).

Left to right: Gail Goodrich in action against Paul Westphal; Nate Williams, E.C. Coleman, Ron Behagen and Aaron James in a publicity shot taken at Jackson Square; and Pistol Pete Maravich in action against Kevin Grevey.

Go to next section: New Orleans Jazz - Year Four: The 1977-78 Season

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