Dave Checketts’ name is easily recognizable in several communities, including among Mormons and in the world of professional sports. The former president and general manager of the Utah Jazz, former president of the New York Knicks and original owner of Real Salt Lake is also a former LDS stake president, and now, Checketts has been called to serve as a mission president, according to a video published to his son’s Instagram account on Friday.
The video shows Dave Checketts and his wife, Deb, opening their assignment to serve as mission president and companion in the England London Mission.
The Deseret News has previously reported two stories about Checketts’ efforts to minister as a stake president. In a story about Tom Christofferson earlier this year, the Deseret News reported that Checketts was influential in Christofferson’s return to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Together the two studied the scriptures and discussed gospel topics.
As Christofferson increased his church activity, Checketts invited him to his home periodically on Saturday mornings to study the scriptures and discuss gospel topics. Christofferson's genuine search for understanding the doctrine not only touched Checketts' heart, but inspired him as a church leader to incorporate some of the ideas they discovered into his vision for the stake, Checketts said.
Another example of Checketts’ service to members of his stake took place in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 when Checketts cleared his business calendar to serve two new members of his stake, Robbie and Alyssa Parker, whose daughter Emilie was among those killed. While Checketts said that when he first learned of the news he didn’t know what to say, he later said of the tragedy, "What happened in Newtown is unthinkable, but little children are alive in Christ. Though the nature of the crime is the essence of evil, our faith tells us that these children burst into the presence of God and are safe in his arms."
Checketts was also featured in Jeff Benedict’s 2007 book, “The Mormon Way of Doing Business,” and on Friday, Benedict expressed his confidence that missionaries serving under Checketts will be in good hands.
“Dave’s exceptional character has been tested and seasoned by the rough-and-tumble world of professional sports and entertainment,” Benedict told the Deseret News. “Missionaries under his care will learn from a leader whose first instinct is compassion and whose broad shoulders have cleared many paths for the underdog.”
In “The Mormon Way of Doing Business,” Checketts explained how he balanced 15- to 18-hour workdays, six days a week, with being a husband and father.
“If my children call me during the day and leave a message, I return those calls first, not last,” Checketts said in the book.
Checketts will now devote 24 hours a day, seven days a week to serving the Lord and his missionaries for three years.