SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — It’s officially been 45 seasons since the Jazz made their way from New Orleans to Utah. In the decades to follow, they’ve made waves in the world of basketball — bringing the excitement of the NBA to fans in Salt Lake City as they watch their home team fight for the top spot in the nation.
The Jazz weren’t always the elite team we’ve come to know today. While playing for New Orleans, before their move to Utah, they were on what seemed like a never-ending losing streak.
The stadium in Louisiana was even struggling to fill seats, offering fans tickets to games for just $1.99. Nonetheless, the seasons were bleak for New Orleans until the team finally came to Utah in 1979.
Even then, the newly-named Utah Jazz were off to a shaky start, with crowds cheering for opposing teams — even placing bets on one game for basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to break a scoring record against them.
All of a sudden, something unexpected happened, as the Utah Jazz started winning games. Within just a few seasons, they were making it to the NBA Playoffs and a whole new generation of fans were following along.
Still, hard times abounded as the team became several millions of dollars in debt and faced the possibility of leaving Salt Lake City. That was until local car dealer Larry H. Miller took a gamble, providing the funds to purchase half of the Utah Jazz and keep them in our state.
In an interview 30 years ago with Craig Wirth, he remarks, “Being in the business of collecting aluminum cans was better at that time.”
Regardless, his gamble paid off. By 1997, the team made the NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls and the Salt Lake City community took on a whole new level of fandom.
Today, as the Utah Jazz recently kicked off their 2023-24 season at the Delta Center, they move forward with fans full of hope and support.
**Information in this article has been revised to reflect a correct timeline of events