They are finally here. Nike and the Utah Jazz gave us all a Christmas present to remember. The insanely unique fourth Utah Jazz jerseys are here and they’re beautiful. Zach Lowe from ESPN had the story.
"The Jazz name is never going away," says Ben Barnes, the team's art director. "It is our identity here. But it has always been hard to fit Utah and jazz together."
That's why the Jazz got more excited than perhaps any other franchise when they learned two years ago that Nike, as part of its new partnership with the NBA, would design four new jerseys for each team. The final one, the so-called city edition, would give every franchise the chance to venture far out of the box.
They knew right away they wanted to use the fourth jersey to shove the "jazz" name into the background -- and in the end, out of the art entirely -- and honor something more true to Utah. Nike's designers initially pitched ideas centering on Utahns' reputation for industriousness, and the primacy of the honeybee.
"They were good ideas," says Steve Starks, Jazz president. "People would have liked them. But we challenged Nike. This was an opportunity for us to be really aggressive. Let's push. Let's be unique." Any bee-themed art might tread too closely on the territory of the Charlotte Hornets, anyway.
Nike came back with motifs based on Utah's spectacular nature. The Jazz perked up, with one reservation, Barnes recalls: "Stay away from the mountains. We've been there." (Utah made back-to-back Finals in the late 1990s wearing blue-and-white jerseys featuring snow-capped mountains.)
The alternative was obvious: referencing the red, rocky vistas of southern Utah and the state's five national parks.
As we reported back in July, these are the gradient jerseys that reference Utah’s unique landscape. They have the stripe on the side representing I-15, and they will be memorable. Utah has a unique court to go with it. Utah’s front office was worried that the nod to Utah’s outdoors with the jersey might not play well to a national audience, so they created the court to be a little more on the nose with their direction.
The Utah Jazz as reported by Andy Larsen will wear these uniforms nine times. Six times at home and three times on the road.
This is a great look for Utah, and a unique one. Many fans had been hanging onto the hope that the Jazz would bring back the purple mountains, but those belong with the legacy of Karl and John. It’s time for Utah’s new core to blaze their own trail.