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Former Jazz owners Sam Battistone and Larry Hatfield (second and third from left), shown here being welcomed to Utah in 1979, kept the Jazz team name from the few years of playing in New Orleans.

They held a contest, and nobody won.

A lot of people thought the name "Jazz" ought to go when the NBA team moved from New Orleans to a less-musical Utah in 1979.

"I think there were people who thought the name wasn't appropriate," concedes Sam Battistone, the team's main owner at the time.

But nobody came up with anything better. "The names that came in, nothing seemed to fit," Battistone said. "I think probably more people in New Orleans were concerned about it than people in Utah."

"And there were always guys like Chic Hearn that said something about the name and the fact that maybe there wasn't any jazz in Utah," said Battistone about the Los Angeles Lakers' legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster. "But I always told him, 'Well, what about all the lakes in Los Angeles?' Because they kept that name from Minneapolis," land of 10,000 lakes.

The contest entry Battistone remembers most because it was original and odd was the "Utah Briny Shrimp," he said. But that didn't quite roll off the tongue like "Jazz" did, even if Utah is hardly known for jazz music like New Orleans.

The name that many people favored, "Saints," wasn't palatable, either ...

"That would have made New Orleans mad, too," Battistone said. New Orleans' NFL team is, of course, the Saints, and that would have just been another name stolen from the Crescent City.

Another local favorite was "Stars," continuing the proud history the state had with its old ABA team. Battistone said that name "wasn't available" at the time.

He also said that when the Jazz got NBA approval to move to Utah in June 1979, "We didn't have time to change the name" before the season started.

"And then from a personal standpoint, I actually thought I would like to see us keep the name because I felt that once we reached some success, I wanted to see that it just had the same name," said Battistone by telephone.

Battistone, who sold the Jazz to Larry Miller on April 11, 1985, lives in Las Vegas and operates a number of businesses, including the Field of Dreams sports memorabilia stores, which number about 30 around the country, he said.

His "four or five divisions" also are involved in representing athletes' interests off the field and operate a sports Web site "FansEdge.com," which sells about 180,000 licensed sports products through a facility in Chicago with corporate offices in Fort Lauderdale. That entity operates "DanMarino.com" and "JohnElway.com," that feature products of the former NFL quarterbacks.

Battistone still makes it to Salt Lake City to take in Jazz games a couple times a year.

"I'm happy that we kept (the team name Jazz) and that it continued," he said. "I thought the logo (the old mardi gras-colored music note) was great."