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It’s black and white. Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith confirms rebrand is a thing

The Utah Jazz have rebranded and painted the Jazz note black and white in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
The Utah Jazz note outside of the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, pictured on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, has been painted black and white as part of a rebranding effort for the team.  
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith shared details, sort of, Wednesday on a rebranding effort first noted by sharp-eyed fans that have been speculating on social media the past few weeks.

Some of those changes to team assets include the well-known J-note sculpture outside of the Vivint Smart Home Arena, which was repainted in a black-and-white color scheme earlier this week.

Fans also noticed that in addition to black and white, yellow is also featured very prominently on the team’s official online game schedule for this season. The Jazz practice facility, the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, also recently received a fresh coat of black-and-white paint, covering the long-standing navy blue, gold and green.

Smith, who was onstage with minority co-owner and former NBA star Dwyane Wade at the opening day of the Silicon Slopes Summit, said change is definitely afoot and the new color scheme would be black and white but other combinations, too.

The Jazz have changed color schemes several times since moving to Utah from New Orleans in 1979. In addition to the Mardi Gras colors, Jazz uniforms have featured turquoise, navy blue, powder blue, black and copper along with various logos over the years.

Smith said the team will try new things and “push, push, push” to determine what works and what doesn’t, not just with branding elements like uniform color and fonts but with the whole organization.

He said the overall goal for the Utah Jazz boils down this:

“We’re all here for one thing, we want a (championship) parade in the city,” Smith said. “That’s it.”

Dwyane Wade, part owner of the Utah Jazz, left, and Jazz owner Ryan Smith laugh as they talk about rebranding effort for the team at the Silicon Slopes Summit at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Dwyane Wade, part owner of the Utah Jazz, left, and Jazz owner Ryan Smith laugh as they talk about rebranding effort for the team at the Silicon Slopes Summit at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Smith said he and Wade, in spite of sharing responsibilities related to the Jazz, have had few opportunities to speak about the team together and both celebrated the chance to sit down and chat.

Wade said his minority stake in the team is something that doesn’t come up in his day-to-day work with the Jazz.

“When we talk about Jazz business Ryan never makes me feel like I’m not a leader, because of minority and majority (ownership),” Wade said. “That never happens.”

Dwyane Wade, part owner of the Utah Jazz, talks about a rebranding plan effort for the team during the Silicon Slopes Summit in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Dwyane Wade, part owner of the Utah Jazz, talks about a rebranding plan effort for the team during the Silicon Slopes Summit in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The enthusiasm both men shared for the Jazz and where they hope to take the team had the audience at the Salt Palace roaring their approval.

Smith said he and the other owners have had the great fortune to take over a team that was not at all broken, much like their predecessors.

“We’re just grateful to take over a platform that’s setup,” Smith said. “We didn’t come into something that was broken ... we get to take it forward and grow it, like Larry did.” The late Larry Miller bought the team outright in 1986.

Smith and Wade also highlighted that the Jazz are the only team in the league with the name of a state on their jerseys. That, Smith said, plays into exactly how they see who they’re beholden to.

The Silicon Slopes Summit, as it turns out, played a role in the journey that would eventually lead to Smith buying majority ownership of the Jazz. Smith’s first exchange with then-Jazz owner Gail Miller happened at the 2020 edition of the summit. However, Smith said that initial exchange didn’t go quite as smoothly as he had hoped.

Smith told the Salt Palace crowd that when he asked Miller if there was a possibility, any chance, that she would consider selling the Jazz he got a one word answer: “Nope,” Miller told him.

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith talks about a rebranding effort for the team during the Silicon Slopes Summit in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith talks about a rebranding effort for the team during the Silicon Slopes Summit in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

But that initial barrier would eventually soften and the official announcement of Smith’s purchase of a majority interest in the Jazz came last October.

Wade acquired a minority stake in the team this spring, and Smith celebrated the three-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star joining his ownership team.

“Dwyane is not only a basketball legend, he is also a great leader, businessman and human being,” Smith said following the announcement. “As we continue to build on the incredible legacy of the Utah Jazz franchise, we are excited to add Dwyane’s experience and expertise to the equation.”

Wade revisited some of that experience Wednesday, recalling the opportunity he had to play with another NBA legend, the late Kobe Bryant, on the 2008 men’s U.S. Olympic basketball team.

“(I) watched this beast of a human being put everything into his craft,” Wade said. “I had no choice but to work hard.

“I played with one of my idols ... I feel so lucky to be able to do that.”