The Utah Jazz are scoring points with the community.
For the last four seasons, basketball fans in Utah have watched the NBA playoffs begin without the presence of the home team. That streak ended this weekend when the Utah Jazz took the court against the Los Angeles Clippers, defeating a team that’s been in the postseason for the last six years. They face off again Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Whether they win or lose, the series marks a milestone in a rebuilding effort for a franchise that’s long secured an important and iconic role in the community.
And, due to the decision this year to put ownership of the Jazz into a perpetual legacy trust, that role will continue indefinitely. The move by the Miller family is a remarkable endowment, and the success of the Jazz this season, leapfrogging several teams who finished higher in the standings last year, is similarly remarkable.
The Jazz have established a reputation as a methodical outfit with an old-school bent that favors hard work and a steady-as-she-goes approach to reaching their goals. Though confined in a relatively small market, the team has one of the top winning percentages in the league in the last two decades. The Jazz have made the playoffs 25 times in the 38 years they have been in Utah. The team from Los Angeles that the Jazz face in the first round has been in the postseason 12 times in its 42 years.
Of course, that history is irrelevant when it comes to which team will prevail when they go at it in the upcoming seven-game series; however, it speaks to the consistent contribution the Utah Jazz have made to the local community’s culture.
For the Jazz, the last few years have been devoted to a rebuilding effort, finding and developing young players who fit into the team’s well-established culture. For the most part, these players are known in the parlance of sports as “character guys” who work hard and comport themselves well with teammates and in the community. A couple of those players are on the brink of NBA stardom, which bodes well for the team’s future.
In the current world of professional sports, in the era of free agency, franchises are always in the process of building. The Jazz have managed to persevere through the revolving door of personnel changes by remaining true to their culture and respectful of their legacy. The organization is also showing it isn’t shy about rebuilding in a literal sense, with a planned $125 million renovation of its arena scheduled to begin this summer.
The Miller family has committed to keeping the team competitive and keeping it in Utah for the long haul. Here’s hoping, on behalf of the fans, players and coaches, that this year’s playoff run is for the long haul as well.