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.
1974 - 1981
While the Jazz were still in New Orleans, they sported a single jersey. The jersey was a unique, deep purple shade. “Jazz” was written in 3D letters, with the letter “J” being stylized as a music note. All letters and numbers were written in white and the borders of the jersey were yellow and green, with the whole jersey sporting Mardi Gras colors
1981 - 1984
The first jersey used when the team played in Utah in 1981 was mostly green and had the jazz note and basketball logo in the center.
1984 - 1996
By 1984, the jersey looked exactly the same but swapped the green color for a dark purple.
1996 - 2004
When the Jazz switched to the mountain range logo in 1996, the uniform shortly followed. This jersey was a purple color with a mountain range behind the team name..
2004 - 2010
2004 was a much simpler time for Utah Jazz jerseys. The team adopted an all-white jersey with blue accents, simply having “Jazz” printed in all capital letters at the center.
2010 - 2016
In 2010, the Utah Jazz began transitioning to a more old-school look. That explains the use of the Jazz’s first logo and a dark blue jersey.
2016 - Today
The 2016 jersey saw minor updates but isn’t much different than the last.