SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday was Tyrone Corbin’s anniversary.
Not his wedding anniversary, no. Something considerably less important and yet still significant, at least when it comes to professional athletics.
On Nov. 29, 1999, Corbin played his 1,000th regular-season game as an NBA player. He did so as a member of the Sacramento Kings, playing just five minutes in a 98-88 road loss to the Miami Heat.
Now in his third season as the Jazz’s head coach, Corbin, 49, spent 16 seasons in the NBA, playing for 10 different teams.
In total, he played in 1,065 regular-season games. That ranks him No. 77 on the NBA’s all-time list, just behind Bill Lambieer (1,068) and just ahead of George Gervin (1,060).
“It’s a good accomplishment,” Corbin said. “It’s so long ago I don’t even think about it.”
A look at the NBA’s all-time list shows several Hall-of-Fame players ahead of him. Robert Parrish (1,611), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560), John Stockton (1,504), Karl Malone (1,476) and Moses Malone (1,455), for example, are the top five.
The list also revels a few famed names below Corbin, too. For example: Wilt Chamberlain (1,045), Oscar Robertson (1,040), Larry Bird (897) and Magic Johnson (906).
Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player ever, eventually played in 1,072 regular-season games but didn’t pass the 1,000-game mark until the 2002-03 season, his last in the league.
When informed he reached 1,000 games faster than Jordan, Corbin could only muster a chuckle.
“Jordan didn’t have to (play a 1,000 games),” he said.
It’s true, there are superstars on the list and there are journeymen, like Corbin, who carved out roles on several different teams.
Still, playing more than a 1,000 games, especially during a time when the game was more physical and most teams traveled on commercial airline flights, portrays a certain iron-man toughness.
“I’m just trying to get there,” Jazz point guard Mo Williams said. “How many do I have now?”
Going into tonight’s game with Oklahoma City, Williams is at 601, with four different teams (including two stints with the Jazz).
However, Williams, who is dealing with a sprained right foot, has been listed as a game-time decision for tonight.
That illustrates what sort of grind NBA basketball really is.
“If I get to that 1,000 mark, that’d be tremendous and remarkable,” Williams said.
For Corbin, reaching that mark simply meant playing the game for as long as he could, hanging on for as many seasons as possible.
“I really enjoyed playing the game,” he said. “I didn’t like missing games. I just always felt a responsibility to be there for myself and for the team.”
For Corbin, being on the floor meant playing the game he loved. He played through injuries because he didn’t want to miss playing time.
But he admits he was blessed to be relatively healthy, which explains why he was able to churn out 16 seasons.
“Most nights, after the season starts, you’re not feeling 100 percent so you have to find a way to gut it out (in order to) play,” he said. “I was fortunate and blessed enough just to stay healthy.”