The Utah Jazz’s Brand New Controversial Look


Early in the 2021-2022 NBA season, two images started to show up all over Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and all across the internet. The images showed two Jazz jerseys hanging on a rack, with an unknown individual’s hand pulling it out into view. However, these jerseys were not typical Utah Jazz jerseys we’ve seen in the past, as they consisted of white, black, and a neon yellow color.


The jerseys were white, black, and a surprisingly neon yellow color, a color that the organization has never used before in its history. Many dismissed the image, calling it another fake jersey made inside of photoshop because someone was bored. But as the season went on, the possibility of the jerseys becoming real only gained traction. 

The black and white J-Note statue outside of Vivint Arena – Deseret News

The Jazz began using the black, white, and neon yellow seen on the jerseys inside of the arena, and on the teams social media platforms at the beginning of the 2021-2022 season. The profile picture of the team on  Instagram and Twitter changed to a black background, with the J-Note in white, and whenever the team would post a half-time score or final score, it was always in black, white, and yellow. However, most importantly to some fans, the J-Note statue outside of Vivint Arena changed its colors from navy, green, and yellow, to all black, with white accents

At the conclusion of the NBA Finals on June 17th, the Jazz finally revealed their official jersey lineup that they would use for the 2022-2023 season, and it was exactly what had been leaked months prior.


The leaked render of the jerseys, (above) vs. the official release. (bottom)


The Jazz released an entirely new color palette of black, white, and neon yellow, along with four new jerseys, and an updated J-Note logo and font. The jerseys consisted of the three standard “association,” “icon,” and “alternate” jerseys that the league have been using for past years, along with a throwback jersey of the purple mountain jerseys that the team used from 1996-2004. The announcement also specifically emphasized the return of the purple throwback jerseys, with the slogan of the rebrand being, “Purple is Back.” This slogan was used on social media, and on the Jazz Team Stores website. Emphasizing one out of the four releases can be indicative of the organization itself not having confidence that Jazz fans would like the new rebrand. 


The reveal was immediately followed by huge backlash, not only by Jazz fans, but fans from around the league. And soon enough, owner of the team, Ryan Smith, and part-owner, Dwayne Wade, the minds behind the look, had to respond. 


Five days later, Ryan Smith was at Vivint Arena promoting UFC 278, and when he agreed to an interview session with the media, the questions were almost entirely about the Utah Jazz, and not about the event he was promoting.  He told the media, “I love our fans. Fan is short for fanatic. We have an incredible fanbase… If you take a step back, our goal with our rebrand is to say, first, we wanted to bring purple back. I know people say that’s an afterthought… [but] we’re gonna release four purple jerseys in the next 36 months. I also believe that we want to get a cleaner, simplified look… and have a unified color scheme that we can work with throughout the state.”


After the statements, many fans ripped Ryan Smith for introducing such a different look, and were understandably confused at the correlation between the state of Utah and neon-yellow. Later however, the story would come out, and bizarrely, that it all started with Dwayne Wade’s mother. 


One day, recently after Dwayne Wade became a part-owner Ryan Smith received a phone call from Wade, asking, “My mom wants to know what the Jazz colors are and we can’t figure it out,” to which the idea for a rebrand to give the team a more centralized look was born. 


There is an argument to be made there, though. Over the past few seasons, the Jazz have used just about every color in the rainbow. This also plays into the organization’s identity issues that they’ve been trying to fix since the team moved to the state from New Orleans in 1979. 

The Wasatch mountains overlooking downtown Salt Lake City –

The team used a ‘Mardi-Gras’ color scheme, using purple, green, and yellow, local to New Orleans. This look was carried to Utah, and soon changed to the mountain jerseys, which are more local to Utah, representing the Wasatch mountains which surround downtown Salt Lake City. The colors were even closely accurate too, with the Wasatch mountains sometimes having a light blue and purple hue during the winter season. As the organization moved away from that look, it also lost its grasp on a more Utah theme, and therefore, the team’s identity. 

That’s what Ryan Smith and Dwayne Wade wanted to fix. Unfortunately however, it seems to have made the issue worse.


Alongside  the rebrand was merchandising. The same day as the release, the Jazz Team Store inside of Vivint Arena in downtown Salt Lake City began selling brand new merchandise in the white, black, and yellow color-scheme. The clothes, hats, hoodies, and all the other items look like the team is trying to become something of a ‘fashion brand.’ They’re expensive items that not many people would buy and/or wear on a regular basis. 


The Utah Jazz subreddit on is overwhelmingly the biggest Utah Jazz fan forum on the internet, with 117.5 thousand members. I conducted a poll for the members to vote on with one simple question. Do you think the new Utah Jazz jerseys/merchandise is good? The poll received 660 total votes from Jazz fans, with 54 votes (7.7%) answering yes, that it was good,  and 628 votes (92.3 %) answering no, that it was not good.


To put those numbers into perspective, Vivint Arena’s seating capacity is 18,300. That means that on average, every 100 of 114 fans that attends a game dislikes the Jazz’s new look. 


Now that we’re about a month and a half away from the 2022-2023 regular season starting, the future look of the Utah Jazz is ready and set in stone for at least a year. Given the negative feedback, it wouldn’t come as a complete shock to see the team pull a 180, and go through another rebrand next season.