The Utah Jazz are a professional basketball team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The team plays in the NBA as a member of the Western Conference Northwest Division. Since 1991, the team has called the Vivint Arena its home.
The team got their start as an expansion team in 1974 as the New Orleans Jazz, as a tribute to the origin of Jazz music. The team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979.
Initially, the Jazz were one of the least successful teams in the league. It took the team 10 seasons before they qualified for their first playoffs in 1984 and didn’t reach the playoffs again until 2004. But the team still had incredibly strong players on their roster including John Stockton and Karl Malone who formed one of the most famous point guard-power forward duos in NBA history. But once Jerry Loan took over as coach for the team, the Jazz became one of the powerhouses of the 1990s.
This leadership led to two NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998 against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
Recently, the team has launched themselves back into the limelight, especially after earning the NBA’s best regular season record in the 2020-21 season.
The Utah Jazz’s most exciting games are often against the franchise rivals. These are the games to watch if you want to see the most intense Jazz home games.
Utah Jazz vs Rockets
The Jazz have played the Houston Rockets eight times in the playoffs with the Jazz winning the series at five games. But two of the times the Rockets defeated the Jazz in the Western Conference were also seasons where they won the NBA Championships (1994, 1995).
The Jazz have not historically had a natural or fierce rival where each team has been competitive with the other over a long period of time. However, the Jazz have played several teams more than once in the NBA playoffs.
Utah Jazz Vs Denver Nuggets
The Jazz have a regional rivalry with the DEnver Nuggets as both teams are situated in the Rocky Mountains. The rivalry intensified between the teams in 2020 by the first-round playoff series. During this series, Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray recorded multiple 50-point games. Despite this, the Nuggets overcame a 3-1 deficit to advance.
About Vivint Smart Home Arena
Vivint Arena is an indoor arena in Salt Lake City, Utah that serves as the home for the Utah Jazz. It has also been the former home for the Arena Football League’s Utah Blaze as well as the WNBA’s Utah Starzz. It offers seats for 18,306 spectators for basketball fans and has been used for a variety of events besides. This includes serving as home to the figure skating and short track speed skating competitions of the 2002 Winter Olympics when it was referred to as the Salt Lake City Ice Center.
The arena started life as the Delta Center when it was opened in 1991 due to a naming rights deal with Delta Air Lines, which had a hub at nearby Salt Lake City International Airport. After a few other name changes, Provo-based home security system provider Vivint purchased a ten year naming rights deal that has given the arena its current name.
As for the arena’s original plans, it was conceived of as a 20,000 seat home for the Utah Jazz and Salt Lake Golden Eagles. It was intended to replace the Salt Palace which has since been demolished. Ground was broken on May 22, 1990 with the final completion date recorded as October 4, 1991.
The first game played in the arena was a match between the Golden Eagles and the Peoria Rivermen on October 16, 1991. The first basketball game played in the arena was the Jazz Pre-season match against Patrick Ewing’s New York Knicks.
Vivint Arena quickly became known as one of the hardest arenas to play in the NBA. According to an NBA Player’s Poll by Sports Illustrated in 2008, the arena is considered the most intimidating in the league. In fact, 20% of the votes of the then current 240 NBA players pointed to Vivint Arena.
A lot of this reputation comes from how loud the fans can be, which led to some commentators calling it the “Decible Center” back when it was still the Delta Center. This refers to how, during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, an installed Decible meter installed at floor level had readings over 110, which is around the sound levels of a jet takeoff.
Over the course of its life, the Utah Jazz Franchise has had 8 players and 1 coach who have been inducted into the Hall-of-Fame. These players include Walt Bellamy, John Stockton, and Karl Malone, who were all inducted twice, for both their time with the NBA and as members of the 1960 and 1992 Olympic Teams respectively.
The team has also fielded several players who were recognized with NBA awards and honors. Here is a short list of the individual awards earned by Utah Jazz players.
- Karl Malone – 1997, 1999
NBA Rookie of the Year
- Darrell Griffith – 1981
NBA Defensive Player of the Year
- Mark Eaton – 1985, 1989
- Rudy Gobert – 2018, 2019, 2021
NBA Sixth Man of the Year
- Jordan Clarkson – 2021
All-NBA First Team
- Pete Maravich – 1976, 1977
- Karl Malone – 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
- John Stockton – 1994, 1995