NBA approves sale of Jazz to Utah technology entrepreneur

The NBA’s Board of Governors has unanimously approved the sale of Utah Jazz to a group led by technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith.

Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith. - AP

The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale on Friday of Utah Jazz to a group led by technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith, ending the Miller family’s 35-year run as owners of the franchise.

The deal includes Vivint Arena, the team’s G League affiliate and management of a Triple-A baseball club. Part of the sales agreement calls for the team to remain in Utah.

'Fantastic addition'

“Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

Smith is a co-founder of the Utah-based firm Qualtrics, which was sold to SAP for USD 8 billion in an all-cash deal finalised last year.

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Larry and Gail Miller bought 50 percent of the Jazz in May 1985 for USD 8 million, then bought the remaining 50 percent the following year for USD 14 million. Forbes, in its annual valuation of franchises, said the Jazz were worth USD 1.55 billion earlier this year. The Miller family will retain a stake in the franchise.

The Jazz have the NBA’s third-best record since the 1985-86 season, their .588 winning percentage in that span trailing only San Antonio (.633) and the Los Angeles Lakers (.596).