Three-time NBA champion @DwyaneWade has purchased an ownership stake in the Utah Jazz, joining majority owner and governor @RyanQualtrics with plans to take an active role in the franchise and region. Story on ESPN: https://t.co/ZxtZe8uLey— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 16, 2021
From Woj’s article it looks like Wade is really excited to be a part of an NBA ownership group.
“This goes way beyond the dream I had to just play basketball in the NBA,” Wade told ESPN. “I’ve seen Shaq do it in Sacramento. I’ve seen Grant Hill do it in Atlanta. I’ve seen Jordan do it in Charlotte. If this partnership is going to be anything like my relationship is with Ryan, there are going to be a lot of things that I’ll want to be involved in. ...
“Unfortunately, people in my community don’t get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity. To make real change, this is where you have to be — at the top — and Ryan knows that. I’m thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills.”
Make sure to read Woj’s article here to get more details but it’s clear this will come with multiple benefits for the Jazz and for Utah. Wade has a strong relationship with owner Ryan Smith and that was a major part of this. That ownership change is already bringing a lot of exciting changes for this Jazz team.
Wade, 39, met Smith on a San Clemente, California, golf course shortly after his retirement from playing in 2019, and they became fast friends. Wade wanted to understand about Smith’s tech empire, including his company Qualtrics, and calls him a mentor. Smith, 42, raised the idea of Wade joining the ownership group upon completing a $1.66 billion purchase of the Jazz in October.
The NBA has a bylaw that ownership stakes can be no less than 1% of the team, but Wade’s financial investment in the franchise is not immediately clear.
Wade joins a small ownership group that includes Smith and his wife, Ashley; investor and Accel partner Ryan Sweeney; Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes; and the Miller family, which previously owned the team.
“Dwyane has had a chance to be part of so many different [ownership] groups if he wanted that,” Smith told ESPN. “We’ve basically been in discussion from the time we closed on the team on how we can get this done. Like I run my tech business, you want the brightest people around.
Wade doesn’t just seem excited about the team but also the causes that Ryan Smith is using his platform to take on. Whether it’s scholarships for underprivileged minority youth or helping the LGBT community Wade will be a part of helping in social causes in Utah.
Wade described a synergy to Smith’s progressive vision of transforming the Jazz’s success on the court — including a league-leading 41-14 record — into becoming a cultural leader in the community and state. Beyond Smith’s lifelong love of the Jazz and basketball, his devotion to social causes made the organization an easy sell to Wade. Smith has dedicated a four-year college scholarship to an underserved student for every Jazz victory this season and partnered with Apple CEO Tim Cook to invest $4 million into the construction of eight Encircle homes, which provide safe-haven homes for LGBTQ youth and their families. Smith has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement, publicly supporting his players on those issues.
“We’re not running away from the racial and social and LGBTQ conversations,” Wade told ESPN. “I’m committed to doing the work. I talk about the LGBTQ community, which everyone knows is important to me. My daughter is part of that community.
“I don’t look at this as only a Utah Jazz relationship. I look at this as a relationship that’s multifaceted — business, basketball, me being able to bring Ryan into my world just as he’s bringing me into his world.”
Wade mentioned his relationship with Donovan Mitchell and seems excited about the Jazz team and organization and can help on the court in various ways, as well. It’s easy to see how this can help in multiple ways. It can build a stronger relationship with the Jazz stars on this team like Mitchell but it might be something that makes Mike Conley more interested in staying on the team next year. It may even be something that helps other players be more willing to join the Jazz in free agency in the future. Having Dwyane Wade in meetings where you’re pitching free agents is a very nice addition.
That relationship will have an opportunity to grow, and so will Wade’s role on the basketball side with the Jazz. Saying “they have the right people in place,” Wade sees an opportunity to pick his spots to contribute on the team side.
From free-agent meetings to individual counsel, Wade said he is fully invested in the franchise’s future. Wade, wife Gabrielle Union and family live in Los Angeles, a short flight from Utah. They spent Valentine’s Day skiing in Park City. “I fell on my ass a lot of times,” Wade said. “Ryan is showing us every inch of Utah.”
All in all this is great news for the Utah Jazz and for Utah in general. To have someone of this stature take interest in the team and be a part of its future is big. With only one year under his belt, Smith has already had a huge impact on the Jazz. Time will tell what other exciting things are coming.