The Origins & History of Every NBA Team

See how jerseys have changed over the years

The Origins & History of Every NBA Team

With over seven decades of history, chances are there’s probably a lot you don’t know about the National Basketball Association and its 30 teams. Did you know that the Los Angeles Lakers once called Minnesota home? What about the fact that the Boston Celtics have had 24 players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame? How about that the Los Angeles Clippers are supposedly cursed?

We’re diving deep into the history of every single current NBA team. You’re going to learn about how the teams came to be who they are today, including how the franchise was created, relocations to new cities, unexpected name changes and evolutions of jerseys and logos.

You’ll find out where your favorite stars hit the court in their home cities, accolades each team brought home and teams that have a solid representation in the Hall of Fame.

So, what do you actually know about the NBA? Let’s find out!


Utah Jazz

In the 46 years since Utah Jazz players first laced up their shoes for an NBA game, the team has yet to walk away with an NBA Championship. So there’s a pretty good chance that you don’t know much about the Utah Jazz, a team that once made itself home in New Orleans. You’re about to learn the history of the Utah Jazz, including its beginning years back in New Orleans, the logos and jerseys over the years, and where the team stands today.

The Beginning Years

The Utah Jazz was actually first formed back in 1974 in New Orleans, Louisiana with the assistance of Sam Battistone (owner of Sambo’s restaurants) and Fred Rosenfeld (a lawyer).

The team would earn the name “Jazz” after a team name competition that saw over 6,000 submissions. Jazz was picked because it supposedly meant “collective improvisation” and was a nod to the history of jazz music in New Orleans.

Despite having a decent stream of funds at first, the New Orleans Jazz struggled immensely to earn a winning record. The team barely clinched a 39-43 record in the 1977 to 1978 season and its star player, Pete Maravich, rarely saw playing time due to persistent injuries. Yet, the team struggled to fill its rosters with veteran players on more than one occasion. The Jazz were unsuccessful in their quest to draft future Hall of Famer Magic Johnson early on in his career.

As a result of little income, the owners of the New Orleans Jazz looked to relocate elsewhere in the country. Salt Lake City, Utah was ultimately chosen due to low cost and a general boom in basketball fans in the area thanks to the former Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association. Despite the move from New Orleans, the Jazz held onto the Mardi Gras-inspired team colors of purple, green, and gold.

The team continued to struggle once it moved to Utah, even with a roster of skilled players like Adrian Dantley. The Utah Jazz, yet again, got the short end of the stick on a trade deal and ended up missing out on yet another future Hall of Famer, Dominique Wilkins. The team eventually turned around and claimed the Midwest Division title as well as the first winning record in the 1983 to 1984 season.


The Utah Jazz, formerly the New Orleans Jazz, has seen its fair share of logos over the last 46 years. There’s been a wide range of colors, designs, and patterns over the course of the years.

When the New Orleans Jazz officially moved to Utah in 1978, the team kept the same logo, only replacing New Orleans with Utah and adopting a bit of a darker color scheme.
In 1996, the Utah Jazz logo took a swift turn toward the geographic features seen in Utah. The logo consists of a brand new collection of colors with a brown outer circle and a mountain range melting into a basketball in the interior.
The 2004 logo change wasn’t all that different than the last but shifted more toward blue and purple colors instead.
The 2010 logo closely resembles the two previous logos, with an introduction of yellow highlights as well as hints of green.
In 2016, the Utah Jazz paid homage to its beginning years by reactivating the first logo associated with the team. This logo is practically the same as the first few logos, yet uses darker coloring and replaces the purple with dark blue.

Vivint Smart Home Arena

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Сapacity: 18,300


Due to arena availability and a shift to Utah, the Jazz have played in six arenas since the team began in 1974. In New Orleans, the team played at the Loyola Field House and the Municipal Auditorium before moving to the Louisiana Superdome. Once in Salt Lake City, the Utah Jazz would play in the Salt Palace between 1979 and 1991 before eventually settling down at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Famous Fans

The Utah Jazz don’t have many celebrity fans as of late, but many believe the musician Macklemore is a Jazz fan, as he has been seen several times sporting a Gordon Hayward jersey in the past.

Retired Numbers and Hall of Famers

For the Utah Jazz, the 1970s and 1980s brought some of the best players that the franchise would ever have on their roster. That’s exactly why the team eventually decided to retire 7 numbers worn on the jerseys of Jazz standouts. The retired jerseys include:

Adrian Dantley
Pete Maravich
John Stockton
Jeff Hornacek
Karl Malone
Darrell Griffith
Mark Eaton

The Jazz also like to thank the most significant members of their franchise by retiring jerseys in their honor. No. 1 was retired for Frank Layden, head coach for the team throughout the 1980s, No. 9 for 24-year team owner Larry H. Miller, and No. 1223 for the coach that stepped in for Layden in 1988, Jerry Sloan.

Despite not having any NBA Championships and only two finals appearances, the Utah Jazz currently have 8 players and 1 coach represented in the Basketball Hall of Fame. That includes 19-year Jazz veterans, Karl Malone and John Stockton, who each played over 1400 games with the team.

Then to Now

The Utah Jazz has had a troubled history as a team, unable to bring home an NBA championship when in New Orleans and Salt Lake City. However, the Utah Jazz captured the conference championship twice between 1996 and 1998. The team would, unfortunately, fall to the Chicago Bulls 2-4 in both NBA Finals.

Despite having a less than impressive first few years as a team, the Utah Jazz eventually found its niche in the late 1980s with the assistance of players like Karl Malone and John Stockton. The two played for the Utah Jazz for 19 years during their careers, each one becoming an NBA All-Star on several occasions and locking in 1,400+ games with the Jazz. Malone, specifically, would net nearly 37,000 points during his career.