The Utah Jazz has a summer filled with movement that drastically changes the face of the roster. Free agents Donyell Marshall and Bryon Russell move on to other teams, but the Utah Jazz sign Matt Harpring, Calbert Cheaney and Mark Jackson. Raul Lopez, 2001 first-round draft pick, re-injures his knee while playing for the Spanish national team and misses the entire season. Curtis Borchardt, 2002 first-round draft pick, breaks his foot in training camp and is out for the season.
John Stockton became the 7th player in NBA history to play at the age of 41, starting his 19th season with the Utah Jazz. The Utah Jazz goes through a roller-coaster season, marked by a surprise performance from Matt Harpring, who posts a career year with the Jazz, and a seven-game suspension handed down to Jerry Sloan after he bumped an official on January 28 against the Sacramento Kings. Mark Jackson became the third player in NBA history to record 10,000 career assists and moved into second place all-time on the NBA’s all-time assist list, passing Magic Johnson against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 16. The Stockton/Jackson combo combine for a staggering total of 26,031 career assists.
Stockton recorded other milestones during the season including: becoming just the third player in NBA history to play 1,500 or more games, passing John Havlicek for fifth place all-time on the NBA’s all-time minutes played list, scored the 19,000th point of his career and passed Robert Parrish for sixth place all-time on the NBA’s all-time minutes played list. Karl Malone recorded several milestones during the year including: passing Nate Thurmond (14,464 rebounds) for seventh place all-time on the NBA’s all-time rebound list, recording the 35,000th point and 36,000th points of his career, recording the 5,000th assist of his career, playing the 1,400th game of his career, recording his 52,000th and 53,000th minute played; attempting the 25,000th field goal attempt of his career and recording the 13,000th field goal made of his career.
Utah Jazz finishes with a 47-35 record, their 18th consecutive winning season and 20th at .500 or better. The Utah Jazz qualify for their 20th consecutive playoffs and play the second-seeded Sacramento Kings. For the second-straight season. The Kings prove to be too much and win the series, 4-1.
The season-long speculation ends when Stockton abruptly announces his retirement from basketball on May 2, 2003. He plays his final game in Sacramento on April 30, 2003, and leaves the game for the final time to a rousing ovation from the Kings home crowd. His career is celebrated on June 7 with a “Salute to Stockton” at the Delta Center.