David Stern tried to convince Jazz owner to stay open to moving team
It's hard to imagine an NBA without the Utah Jazz. And it's even harder to imagine Salt Lake City without its beloved basketball franchise. Yet if late Jazz owner Larry Miller had listened to David Stern, the Jazz might not be in Utah.
Bryan J. Miller, son of Larry, has a new book out featuring 99 inspiring stories from his father's life. And in one publicly available excerpt, former NBA commissioner David Stern recalls telling the elder Miller that building an arena in Salt Lake City might not be a good idea, since it would prevent moving the team.
Miller's response? He bought the team -- or 50 percent of it, anyway, in 1985 -- to keep it in Utah, not move it elsewhere:
The Jazz would go on to NBA Finals appearances and great success with two Hall of Fame players, as the Delta Center opened in 1991, giving the Jazz a permanent home in Utah. It's now Vivint Smart Home Arena. But whatever you call it, it's nice to hear about the conviction that made it possible.
In the late ’80s we talked a lot about his plan to build what was then the Delta Center. I told him I thought it was crazy to build because rather than being a trophy, it might become a tombstone, incapable of being moved. I admired it, but I said, “There’s no flexibility once you build a building. Your club is going to be worth a small fortune, and it could be sold and moved anywhere at a monumental price. But here you are; you’re going to build a building and cement it.”
I was the loyal opposition, and I think he sort of enjoyed it, because it gave him the sense of opportunity to bear witness to the fact that he was staying and that this was what he was going to do. He said, “I bought this team to keep it in Utah. And I am going to keep it in Utah.”