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Ryan Smith Rumors

The initial shock of Gail Miller announcing in October 2020 that she was selling the Utah Jazz to tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith has long since dissipated. And yet, it remains a bit jarring to consider that — aside from the minority stake they retained in the team upon its $1.6 billion sale — the Miller family now has zero involvement in running the team it owned for 35 years. Greg Miller, who previously served as CEO of both the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and the Jazz until his 2015 resignation, acknowledged this week that the team no longer being under the family’s control took some getting used to. “Well, it’s been a huge change. It’s been a seismic change for us,” Miller told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Storyline: Jazz Front Office
The Miller family was able to take the resources formerly allocated for the Jazz and Vivint Arena and redirect them to other ventures (both business and philanthropic), while the organization has, he believes, benefitted from an influx of new blood and new perspectives. “Ryan brings a level of energy and creativity to the team that I’m sure our family never had,” Miller said. “… I hope that it’s everything that he wanted it to be. I hope that all of his goals and aspirations that he had in pursuit of owning an NBA franchise materialize, and that he’s able to have just great success.”
Miller is urging people not to jump to premature conclusions about the re-brand. “I don’t know that it’s going to be that earth-shattering. I’ve seen the new look, and I think it’s a very impressive look,” he said. “But if you look back over the 43 years or so that the Jazz have been in this market, there have been several re-branding efforts, and to me, it’s just cool to look back on those as a collective and just sort of see the evolution of those. And they all fit. They all have their place in their era. And you think of the players that wore a certain style of jersey. And so I think this is the next installment. And I applaud Ryan for taking the steps to be new and innovative.”
The 2023 NBA All-Star Game will be in Salt Lake City, a detail that multiple league sources connected to the Jazz have painted as a critical element of the franchise’s future plans. It’s of great importance to Jazz governor Ryan Smith that Utah has multiple players in that midseason classic, sources said, similar to how the Cavaliers were represented by both Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen during the 2022 affair in Cleveland. It’s also clear that Smith is willing to financially support a contender, and Utah leadership has no designs of entering any sort of rebuild.
The Utah Jazz are trying to continuously push themselves to the edge of innovation. In September, they launched a “groundbreaking” NFT program, which allowed access to a first-of-its-kind virtual locker room and meet-and-greet with Jazz Owner Ryan Smith. The NFTs sold out within 90 minutes. Now, Riley Demps, Qualtrics’ NFT project manager, promised that the NFT program would not be a one-time opportunity, and Jazz SVP of communications Frank Zang said phase two of the NFT program is coming soon. On March 1, the Jazz announced that the team had partnered with CoinZoom, which is now the exclusive NFT marketplace for the Jazz.
That has been the emphasis for the Jazz — finding new ways to bring in fans and get them involved. In October, the Jazz streamed a live practice via Zoom to fans from 44 countries and 42 states. Last month, the team hit 2.1 million followers on TikTok, the second-most among any NBA franchise (the Warriors are first with 3.7 million). Jazz Bear, Utah’s mascot, has more followers than 10 NBA franchises.