History of the Jazz Name

THE NICKNAMES
Behind The Name
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In 1974 a contest was held to name the expansion team in New Orleans. Of the more than 6,500 names submitted, eight semi-finalists emerged: Jazz, Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights.

After much deliberation, team officials announced that the new team name would be the New Orleans Jazz on June 7, 1974.

Three contestants had entered the Jazz name, so team officials had Miss New Orleans 1974 choose a winner out of a hopper. That winner was Steve Brown, a 27-year old broker and transplant New Yorker.

Brown, a self-proclaimed Jazz freak who had once played in a league with Julius Irving, said, “I grew up on Knickerbocker basketball, but this is my team now.” He received two Jazz season tickets and a trip to the 1975 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix.

As the undisputed “jazz capital of the world”, the city embraced the new name. And, for the second time, Jazz had been born in New Orleans. To convey a distinct Mardi Gras theme, purple gold, and green colors were used to create the original logo.

The Jazz remained in New Orleans for five years. After the team posted the NBA’s worst record during the 1978-79 season, ownership decided to move the team to Salt Lake City. Despite no history of Jazz music in Utah, the name was kept.

Although many had reservations about Utah’s ability to successfully support an NBA team, Utah Jazz fans became some of the most loyal fans in the league. To this day, saxophones, Cajun food, and Mardi Gras beads may be hard to come by in Salt Lake City, but Jazz is definitely in the air.

Quick Jazz facts:

  • The Jazz name was selected because of its definition in the dictionary: collective improvisation.
  • The source of the word “jazz” is not clear, but the word is often regarded as being of African or Creole origin.