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Frank Layden

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Frank Layden
Layden, circa 1988
Personal information
Born (1932-01-05) January 5, 1932 (age 92)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Career information
High schoolFort Hamilton
(Brooklyn, New York)
CollegeNiagara (1950–1953)
Coaching career1968–1988
Career history
As coach:
19761979Atlanta Hawks (assistant)
19811988Utah Jazz
19981999Utah Starzz
Career highlights and awards
As coach:

As executive:

Career coaching record
NBA277–294 (.485)
WNBA4–11 (.267)

Francis Patrick Layden (born January 5, 1932) is an American former basketball coach and executive of the National Basketball Association's Utah Jazz as well as former head coach of the Women's National Basketball Association's Utah Starzz.

Early life[edit]

Francis Patrick Layden was born on January 5, 1932, in Brooklyn, New York.

College career[edit]

Layden attended Niagara from 1950 to 1953.

Coaching career[edit]

In addition to his coaching at the professional level, Layden coached at Seton Hall High School and at Adelphi Suffolk College.

Niagara (1968–1976)[edit]

Layden coached at his alma mater, Niagara University, from 1968 to 1976. Layden coached Niagara to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 1970, with the help of Calvin Murphy.

Atlanta Hawks (1976–1979)[edit]

In 1976, Layden was hired to be an assistant coach with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks joining former Niagara teammate Hubie Brown.

Utah Jazz (1981–1988)[edit]

In 1979, Layden was hired to be the general manager of the then New Orleans Jazz, and became the head coach of the Jazz (now in Salt Lake City) in 1981, replacing Tom Nissalke. He coached the Jazz for the next seven and a half years. He was instrumental in drafting and signing franchise mainstays John Stockton and Karl Malone to the club. He retired from coaching during the 1988–1989 NBA season, with the team at an 11–6 record and leading the Midwest Division, citing "pressure" and a general burnout from coaching.[1] moving into the team's front office and was replaced as coach by his assistant, Jerry Sloan. "I had a guy come up to me and say 'hit me, hit me', I'm a lawyer'. I think America takes all sports too seriously" Layden said after resigning.[1] "Sometimes in the NBA, you feel like a dog. You age seven years in one. The pressure in the NBA is intense. It's time to have my time."[1] In his final game, Layden was ejected by referee Earl Strom after getting into a shouting match with Washington Bullets guard Darrell Walker.[1]

In 1984, Layden was awarded the NBA's Coach of the Year. That same season, he also won the NBA's Executive of the Year and the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Awards. (He and Joe O'Toole are the only non-players in NBA history to win the award.)

Layden joined the Utah Eagles of the Continental Basketball Association in October 2006 as an honorary assistant coach.[2]

Utah Starzz (1998–1999)[edit]

Layden was the head coach of the Utah Starzz Women's National Basketball Association team from 1998 through 1999 before quitting so he could "enjoy life."[3] Layden would a few months later quit as team president of the Jazz for the very same reasons.

Layden was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame on Long Island in the Basketball and Professional Sports Categories with the Class of 1990.


Layden retired from coaching the Jazz in 1989 to serve full-time as the franchise team president and general manager, hiring former NBA player and then Jazz assistant Jerry Sloan as the new head coach. During this time, Layden participated with Marv Albert in a video published by Sports Illustrated called Dazzling Dunks and Basketball Bloopers, as well as a sequel to that a year later. Layden once served briefly as a consultant for the New York Knicks, where his son Scott Layden served as general manager for a time. He continues to live with his wife, Barbara, in Salt Lake City.

Coaching philosophy[edit]

Layden during his coaching days was known for his lighthearted approach to the game as well as to himself. Often he mocked his own weight and looks and was known for giving one-liners to the media before and after games such as "I don't jog because I want to be sick when I die" and "I once got on a scale to have my fortune read and it said 'come back again alone.'"[4] Layden was once over 300 pounds but slimmed down in the summer of 1986, losing over 85 pounds for health reasons.[4] Even after he lost weight he still made himself the butt of jokes, especially about weight and food.[4] He was once fined $1,000 during a game in 1986 for making a satirical wave goodbye and exit after getting ejected.[4] Once in a road game against the Denver Nuggets, there was a halftime contest where a young fan won a halftime shooting contest. Layden pulled the kid aside and jokingly asked him if he was interested in helping out the Jazz, who were down by 25 points at the time. Layden then tried sneaking him onto the court with four other Jazz players and got the fan on the court before the referees realized what was going on and stopped play.[4] In a 1985 game against the Los Angeles Lakers, with the Jazz down by a sizable deficit, Layden left the game while it was still ongoing and returned to the team's hotel across from The Forum, visiting the sandwich shop to order a sandwich and chili.[5] During the 1987 playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Layden arrived to the arena in full Groucho Marx nose, glasses, and mustache getup and did a comedy bit with Warriors coach George Karl to try to make things more lighthearted after the previous game featured tension-filled moments and fighting among players.[4] It was because of his personality that he was often used as a presenter for displaying the lighthearted moments in the NBA as well as in sports, hosting specials for video and on television, including two NBA blooper tapes that he co-hosted along with Marv Albert.

Head coaching record[edit]


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Utah 1981–82 62 17 45 .274 6th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Utah 1982–83 82 30 52 .366 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Utah 1983–84 82 45 37 .549 1st in Midwest 11 5 6 .455 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Utah 1984–85 82 41 41 .500 4th in Midwest 10 4 6 .400 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Utah 1985–86 82 42 40 .512 4th in Midwest 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First round
Utah 1986–87 82 44 38 .537 2nd in Midwest 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First round
Utah 1987–88 82 47 35 .573 3rd in Midwest 11 6 5 .545 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Utah 1988–89 17 11 6 .647 (resigned)
Career 571 277 294 .485 41 18 23 .439


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Utah 1998 11 2 9 .182 5th in West Missed Playoffs
Utah 1999 4 2 2 .500 (resigned)
Career 15 4 11 .267


  1. ^ a b c d "LAYDEN RESIGNS JAZZ COACHING POST - The Washington Post".
  2. ^ Hedin, Bryan (October 20, 2006). "Layden joins Eagles as honorary coach; ex-Y. player signs". The Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Digital Media. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  3. ^ "Frank Layden Quits as Starzz Coach". Associated Press.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Prudential at the Half halftime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Playoff between the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, in a report by Bill Raftery presented by CBS Sports.
  5. ^ "Archives". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]