Where were you on Feb. 16, 1998?
Where were you when the Utah Jazz traded for Rony Seikaly?
Not exactly one of those life-changing days, I'll grant you that. But still, in the franchise's history, it was a significant moment in time.
See, back then the Jazz were contenders, not only to make the playoffs, but to actually make a return to the NBA finals.
A year earlier they broke through for the first time, advancing to the title round only to run into Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
So, in February of 1998, the Jazz braintrust, determined to improve the team for yet another long playoff run, made a trade with the Orlando Magic in the hopes of finding the missing piece to the puzzle. That piece? An offensive-minded center named Rony Seikaly.
One problem, however. Seikaly didn't want to come to Salt Lake City. He refused to report to the Jazz and the deal was eventually voided.
A few days later, Seikaly accepted a trade to the New Jersey Nets, one of the worst teams in the league that year.
Can you imagine? A 10-year NBA veteran turning down a chance to join forces with a future Hall of Fame coach and two future Hall of Fame players? Turning down a chance to potentially play for an NBA title, all because, well, it's Utah, and who wants to play there?
Pretty amazing, huh? But then again, the NBA is where "amazing happens."
What's amazing to me, is that 13 years later, it seems little has changed.
The Jazz, Salt Lake City and the state of Utah in general still seem to have a bad reputation among NBA players.
Why? Frankly speaking, it's too small; too backward; too far out of the way and, well, it's not racially diverse enough.
How weired is Utah's reputation? The preconceived notions are bizarre.
I remember a few years ago, when the Jazz were bringing in college players for pre-draft workouts, one potential draft pick was astonished to see buildings and an actual skyline as he looked out the window of an arriving airplane.
What did he expect to see?
"I expected it way different than this," current Philadelphia 76er Mareese Speights said. "This is kind of like, city. I expected, like, cows and stuff."
That was in 2008, 10 years after the failed Seikaly trade.
"I think a lot of guys hear stuff (but) they don't know about a community," said Tyrone Corbin, the first African-American head coach in franchise history. "They have an idea what the situation may be (but don't know for sure)."
Corbin has a unique perspective on the situation. He played here under coach Jerry Sloan in the early 1990s and served as one of Sloan's assistants for more six seasons before finally succeeding him as head coach.
Like Seikaly -- who was born in Lebanon, raised in Greece and later became a naturalized American citizen -- Corbin was traded to the Jazz. They acquired him in November of 1991, thanks to a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Unlike Seikaly, Corbin decided to come here and play.
Surely both knew of Utah's reputation ahead of time. One refused to come; one jumped at the chance to keep playing the game, regardless of location.
"I didn't look at the city," Corbin said last week. "I came to work. Guys get moved from their jobs all the time. Either you take the job and do the move or you take another job."
Corbin said he hopes times have changed, that players no longer roll their eyes at the thought of playing in Utah.
"As much as this city and this state have to offer (I hope) that's not a problem any longer," he said. "I don't have any apprehensions about being here and I don't think our players do. I think that stigma's changed some over the years."
These days, it's in Corbin's best interest to share those thoughts with anyone who'll listen. The Jazz are going through a unique transition period now and he's leading it.
In the short term, the Jazz need to focus on getting Corbin his first win. Then after that, perhaps they can get a little momentum going as the playoffs approach.
But beyond this season, it's imperative the franchise -- from its owners to its players and coaches -- do a better job of recruiting free agent talent to Utah.
Undoing the damage done by Seikaly and so many others is the only way for the Jazz to remain competitive in the post-Sloan era.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can reached at (801) 625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He Tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247