Back in the ABA days, from 1971-76, there were the Salt Lake Stars. The first major professional sports team in the city, they won the ABA title in 1971 coached by Bill Sharman (former Celtics star and Lakers’ coach) and led in scoring by Zelmo Beaty.
The Stars are back.
The Utah Jazz are moving the D-League’s Idaho Stampede — a team the Jazz own and operate — to Salt Lake City starting next season, the team announced Monday.
“We are thrilled to bring an NBA D-League team to Salt Lake City and in close proximity to the Utah Jazz,” said Steve Starks, president of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. “The Salt Lake City Stars will provide further opportunities to promote the game of basketball, extend the reach of the Jazz, and engage with our surrounding communities in new ways.”
“The relocation of our D-League team to Utah will further align our efforts in player development and basketball operations to support the Jazz,” said Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz general manager. “The close relationship will strengthen our team on the court by providing our younger players a chance to grow in an environment that is consistent with Jazz basketball. Additionally, it serves as a training ground for all aspects of our organization, from coaches to support personnel.”
The advantage for the Jazz is simply proximity. Basically, center Tibor Pleiss will be closer to them should they want to call him up.
As teams get added to the D-League — the league hopes for a 30-team D-League someday — expect teams to be located closer to their NBA partner. It just makes sense economically and logistically for the team.