- Dwyane Wade has purchased an ownership stake in the NBA’s Utah Jazz.
- Tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith purchased the Jazz from the Miller family late last year.
- Wade is planning to take an active role in the operation of the team and within the Salt Lake City community.
Dwyane Wade will forever be synonymous with the Miami Heat where he spent most of this playing career. In an intriguing twist, the three time NBA Champion will also be associated with Salt Lake City, Utah. Late last week, the Utah Jazz announced that Wade has purchased a minority ownership stake in the team.
In October 2020, tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith became the majority owner the Utah Jazz in a $1.66 billion deal. Smith is the cofounder and former CEO of Utah-based cloud computing company Qualtrics. Smith founded the company in Provo, Utah in 2002 with his brother, Jared, and father Scott. They planned to go public in 2019 but just days before the IPO Qualtrics was acquired by German software firm SAP for $8 billion in cash. The family of the late Larry H. Miller had been reticent to sell the franchise that their patriarch had built but were swayed by Smith’s enthusiasm and Utah roots.
Not long after his retirement in 2019, Wade had a chance meeting with Smith on a golf course in San Clemente, California. The NBA legend who grew up on the streets of Chicago and the tech billionaire graduate of Brigham Young University are certainly an unlikely duo but they quickly became close friends. Wade was interested in learning about Smith’s businesses and the Qualtrics CEO became a mentor of sorts as ‘D-Wade’ made the transition into ‘civilian life’. After Smith purchased the Jazz he approached Wade with the idea of bringing him on as a minority partner. Announcing Wade’s stake acquisition, Smith spoke effusively about the Miami Heat icon:
“Dwyane is not only a basketball legend, he is also a great leader, businessman, and human being. As we continue to build on the incredible legacy of the Utah Jazz franchise, we are excited to add Dwyane’s experience and expertise to the equation. Utah is an amazing place and I couldn’t be more thrilled about the future of the franchise and the future of this state. Dwyane’s influence will be important to both.”
Wade clearly has the same level of respect for Smith and is excited to become part of the Jazz organization:
“Partnering with Ryan and the Utah Jazz is the perfect fit as we share the same vision and values Not only is this group focused on building a championship franchise, they are also committed to using their platform to do good and actively create a more inclusive, equitable world. We share a lot of the same goals and are trying to go the same places in life.”
“As a businessman, entrepreneur, and investor, I bring a lot to this partnership outside of my basketball experience. I’m excited to help take the Utah Jazz to the next level. I am always looking for new opportunities to grow and challenge myself. I’ve always done things my own way and this is the next step in my journey. As a kid from the south side of Chicago, this partnership goes beyond my wildest dreams of playing basketball, and I hope to inspire the next generation of dreamers.”
Retired ballplayers taking minority ownership stakes in teams has become a trend of late but Wade isn’t kidding about him being a ‘perfect fit’ with the Jazz. As a player, he was as skilled as anyone but his game had a grit and toughness that the late Utah Jazz coaching legend Jerry Sloan would have loved. It’s not hard to envision Wade as part of a dominating triumvirate with John Stockton and Karl Malone had the stars properly aligned. Wade is looking forward to being a ‘hands on’ presence both with the team and in the Salt Lake City community.