The Utah Stars ushered in a historic era of Beehive State basketball when it won the ABA championship on May 18, 1971. Since then, the history of hoops here has gone full circle — from the Stars of the ABA to today's Salt Lake City Stars in the NBA G League.

Utah struggled for years to maintain a pro team before the Jazz came to town. Here's a look back at all of the professional basketball teams that have played in the Beehive State:

Utah Stars

League: American Basketball Association

Years: 1970-75

Championships: 1 (1971)

The Stars were Utah’s first professional hoops franchise, moving from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City in 1970 and winning the ABA title in its first year in Utah. The team went on to feature players such as future Naismith Hall of Fame centers Moses Malone and Zelmo Beatty (elected to the 2016 class on Monday), as well as Ron Boone and Rick Mount before folding early into the 1975-76 season.

Utah Rockies

League: American Basketball Association

Years: 1976

This one comes with a bit of an asterisk because the team never really existed. After the Stars folded, the Spirits of St. Louis relocated to Salt Lake City. However, it was short-lived after the 1976 ABA-NBA merger crushed the Rockies before they could hit the court. The owners agreed to receive 1/7 of future revenue generated from the Spurs, Nuggets, Pacers and Nets in the merger after being spurned by the NBA, which in turn began one of the most lop-sided deals in sports history. That value rose to well more than $200 million in value, according to the New York Times in 2012, before the NBA and the Silna family, which owned the club, agreed in 2014 to a $500 million settlement.

Salt Lake City Prospectors

League: Western Basketball Association

Years: 1978-79

The Western Basketball Association folded after one season. It featured teams in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, as well as several other cities, such as the league’s only champion, the Tucson Gunners.


Utah Jazz

League: NBA

Years: 1979-Current

The New Orleans Jazz relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979 and remained in Utah after Larry H. Miller bought full control of the team in the mid-‘80s to prevent the Jazz from being relocated further. The Jazz have featured NBA greats such as Pete Maravich, Adrian Dantley, John Stockton and Karl Malone, among many others who have played in Utah. The Jazz won the Western Conference Finals in 1997 and 1998 and have eight division titles.

Utah Starzz

League: WNBA

Years: 1997-2002

The Starzz were one of the original eight WNBA franchises when the league began in 1997. However, it moved to San Antonio at the end of the 2002 season and is currently the San Antonio Stars.

Utah Snowbears

League: American Basketball Association

Years: 2004-05

Utah returned to the ABA (now a brand-new organization) in 2004, featuring former Weber State standout Harold Arceneaux. The team went 25-1 in the regular season, but folded before it could advance far in the playoffs. “The 26-1 Utah Snowbears had the ABA’s best record, but didn’t show up for the finals because they couldn’t afford the travel,” wrote Sports Illustrator writer and former ABA team owner Alexander Wolff in a March 2015 piece reliving the revival of the ABA.


Salt Lake Dream

League: American Basketball Association

Years: 2006

Much like the Rockies, the Dream folded before ever taking to the court.

Utah Eagles

League: Continental Basketball Association

Years: 2006-07

Playing in Taylorsville, the Eagles also featured Arceneaux. However, the team folded in the middle of its first season.

Utah Flash

League: NBA D-League

Years: 2007-11

The NBA Developmental League began in 2001 and the Flash were Utah’s first D-League team, founded in 2007, playing in Orem. The team eventually ceased operation in 2011 before moving to Newark, Delaware, to become the Delaware 87ers — the Philadelphia 76ers’ D-League affiliate.


Salt Lake City Saints

League: American Basketball Association

Years: 2008

Another failed ABA experiment in Utah.

Salt Lake City Stars

League: NBA D-League

Years: 2016-Current

The Jazz moved the Idaho Stampede, Utah’s D-League affiliate, to Salt Lake City for the 2016-17 season. The team was renamed the Stars — thus completing a full circle of Utah professional basketball history.

Update: This article was updated on May 19, 2018 to include information on the Salt Lake City Stars since its relocation to Utah.