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Are the Jazz the Gonzaga of the NBA?

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder talks with Donovan Mitchell in Salt Lake City.
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder talks with Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) as the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies play Game 2 of their NBA playoffs first round series at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

As the Utah Jazz are on the brink of advancing to the second round of the NBA playoffs, a prominent radio voice recently compared them to a college program that, perhaps ironically, holds a special spot in many Jazz fans’ hearts.

Earlier this week, Colin Cowherd said “Utah is Gonzaga basketball,” referring to Jazz legend John Stockton’s alma mater, the small school that has become a college basketball power.

Cowherd’s reasoning? Although both teams have had sustained excellence for a long time, neither has reached the ultimate height of winning a championship.

Cowherd noted that the Jazz have the second-most wins dating back all the way to 1995, but the other three teams in the top four — the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat — have won a combined 13 titles since then while Utah has won none.

“Gonzaga was within a basket of winning (in 2017) and now they’re 31-1. All people talk about’s the one,” Cowherd said. “That defines them. ... That’s the Utah Jazz. Until we see it, we just can’t buy it.”

Cowherd praised the Jazz, however, particularly pointing to their 3-point shooting ability, head coach Quin Snyder and Rudy Gobert’s defense, among other things.

“But we just can’t — I’ve never seen a team that’s a No. 1 seed, nobody’s talking about them,” Cowherd said. “I mean, the networks just bury them, and it’s like, we may want to pay attention. They are pretty good.

“I don’t know if they’ll win it, but I will say this right now: Donovan Mitchell, who was hurt before the playoffs, if he’s healthy, they are going to be a really, really tough out.”