Best friend duos in Utah sports history
SALT LAKE CITY – In celebration of National Best Friends Day, here’s a look at some of the best friend sports duos in Beehive State history.
National Best Friends Day is celebrated annually on June 8.
“It’s a day to celebrate friendship and spend time with your best friend, showing them how much you appreciate them being in your life,” according to Calendarr.com.
Best Friends in Utah Sports
John Stockton and Karl Malone
After being drafted a year apart, John Stockton and Karl Malone played 18 consecutive years together as mainstays of the Utah Jazz. During this period, the NBA stars also developed a solid friendship.
Stockton, a native of Spokane, Washington and a product of Gonzaga, was selected by Utah with the No. 16 overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft.
The following year, Malone, a native of Summerfield, Louisiana and product of Louisiana Tech, was drafted by the Jazz with the 13th overall pick.
The Stockton-Malone duo powered the Jazz for nearly two decades and helped the franchise to its only NBA Finals appearances.
The iconic couple won two Olympic gold medals together as members of the Dream Team in 1992 and 1996.
In 1993, Stockton and Malone were honored as co-All-Star Game MVPs after the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.
After Stockton’s retirement in 2003, Malone left the Jazz to play the final seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The duo are honored with a pair of statues outside Vivint Arena, the home of Jazz. Salt Lake City also honored star players by renaming a few streets in their honor.
“He’s literally inseparable to me as a brother,” Stockton said of Malone in March. “I mean, we don’t see each other every day, we talk on the phone once in a while, that term is probably overused, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Karl Malone. And I think that ago, I think he feels the same.
LaVell Edwards and Ron McBride
Despite training at rival schools, former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards and former Utah head coach Ron McBride had a close friendship.
After serving as an assistant, Edwards became BYU’s head coach in 1972. The legendary coach helped the Cougars win the 1984 national championship and win 19 conference titles during his tenure.
Before becoming Utah’s head coach in 1990, McBride coached the Utes’ offensive line from 1985 to 1986. During his time as Utah’s head coach, McBride faced Edwards in the game decade-long rivalry between the Utes and Cougars. Over the years, the coaches developed a close friendship that remained in retirement.
Edwards coached against McBridge throughout the 2000 season when he retired.
Edwards died in 2016 at the age of 86. Since Edwards’ passing, McBride, 82, has spoken numerous times about his friendships with his former rival.
Kyle Whittingham and Kalani Sitake
Before entering the coaching world, Kyle Whittinham and Kalani Sitake both played college football at BYU. Whittingham played for the Cougars from 1978 to 1981. Sitake played at BYU from 1994, 1997-2000.
After spending two seasons as a graduate assistant at BYU following his playing career with the Cougars, Whittingham served as an assistant at rival Utah from 1994 to 2004. In 2005, Whittingham was hired as head coach of the Utes.
Following his playing career, Sitake, like Whittingham two decades earlier, was a graduate assistant at BYU in 2002. After a few seasons on the Southern Utah coaching staff, Sitake was hired by Whittingham as a Utah linebackers coach. In 2009, Whittingham promoted Sitake to defensive coordinator, a position he held through the 2014 season. In 2015, Sitake was hired as BYU’s head coach.
Although they have coached rival teams since the 2016 season, Whittingham and Sitake have remained close friends and have participated in charity and public events together. Whittingham owns a 4-1 rivalry record against his friend and former assistant.
Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss
Before becoming stars at the University of Utah and NFL players, Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss were standout players and teammates at Hallandale High School in Florida.
In Hallandale, Huntley passed for 9,053 yards and 106 touchdowns. As a senior, he was named Florida Gatorade Football Player of the Year.
Moss played at Mater Academy Charter School before playing his final season of high school football with Huntley in Hallandale. The running back originally committed to playing college football in Miami before changing his mind and following Huntley to Salt Lake City.
The duo went on to have outstanding careers for the Utes from 2016 to 2019.
After their Utah career, Moss was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 2020 NFL Draft and Huntley signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
Zach Wilson and Dax Milne
Prior to their time at BYU and the NFL, Zach Wilson and Dax Milne were childhood friends in Salt Lake County.
Wilson, a native of Draper, Utah, attended Corner Canyon High School before attending BYU from 2018 to 2020. Milne, a native of South Jordan, Utah, attended high school at Bingham High before uniting with his friend of the Cougars in 2018.
After three stellar seasons at BYU, both Wilson and Milne left school early to pursue professional football. Wilson was selected by the New York Jets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Two days later, Milne was drafted by the Washington Commanders with the No. 258 pick in the seventh round.
Shortly after their rookie seasons, Wilson and Milne returned to Provo and sat next to each other at a BYU men’s basketball game.