Back in 2008 the “team-drain” was just too much to sustain the Rocky Mountain Revue. The glitz and glitter of the city that never sleeps won out. Gawdy and bawdy and agent-centric basketball business took center stage!
The Las Vegas Summer League woo’d teams west, young talent wowed fans The iconic scenic beauty of the wild, wild west in Salt Lake City was no longer a large enough lure, distraction-free basketball-intensive competition wasn’t what the players/agents/team management really wanted anymore. Viva Las Vegas…and oh yeah, Orlando.
Fast-forward 7 years, full circle back to SLC, no longer in the campy confines of Salt Lake Community College it’s the bigtime, Utah Jazz Summer League live and larger than live in EnergySolutions Arena.
Jazz President Randy Rigby was one of the key players in the move back to the future of the “no-frills” Summer League experience along the wicked-hot Wasatch Front. “It’s something that’s very near and dear to me. I hated seeing it, teams slowly stolen away from us over to Las Vegas and it was frustrating.”
Rigby turned that churning frustration and anger into positive action. “So Kevin O’Connor and I worked very hard to make the League realize what they had done wrong and to work with us. The fun thing for me was, as I spoke with team and league officials, key people, they all kept talking about the Rocky Mountain Revue, ‘no one put on a better show than you did! We loved being there, we loved being in Salt Lake City this time of year.”
So Rigby did what, say…former owner and Jazz Patriarch Larry Miller would’ve done, he kept plugging away. With the help of Steve and Greg Miller, they worked themselves into an audience with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The collective message from Millers and Rigby? “We don’t want to give up on this thing, we want it back and we want your support, the Commissioner threw his support behind the renewal project and so… the Summer League formerly known as the Rocky Mountain Revue (line stolen from Jazz Beat Writer Jody Gennysey of the DNews) was reborn. “We’re really excited to have it back” says President Rigby who’s an admitted Marketer at heart. “And I’ll tell you what, the fans are responding to having it back too, ticket sales are doing very well.
Very well but Rigby wants Jazz fans to know there are plenty of tickets available, best place to go is Utahjazz.com. Every night of play there will be doubleheaders. 1 ticket gets you both games. Jazz play at 7pm Monday (Celtics) Tuesday (Spurs) and Thursday (Sixers). Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey will be front and center checking his young team out. “Summer League is a very valuable resource for player development, talent evaluation and organizational growth. The opportunity to once again host our own league is huge and we’re proud to play host to three class organizations like the Celtics, 76ers and the Spurs.
Among the young Jazz players expected to play in the Jazz Summer League there’s Trey Lyles, (Kentucky) the top draft pick (12th overall), 2015 2nd round pick Olivier Hanlon, ACC’s leading scorer from Boston College and 2nd year men Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. Among the young stars coming to town with those other teams. Philly’s bringing Duke All-America, Jahlil Okafor, taken 3rd overall by the Sixers and 2nd year Sixer Jerami Grant. The Celtics roster appears loaded. 2nd year man Marcus Smart might be the best player in the Utah Summer League, there’s also 2015’s controversial #1 pick Terry Rozier from Louisville, Boston’s 2nd pick in the first round R.J. Hunter (28th overall) a 6’6 shooter from Georgia State, who can lit it up from anywhere. The Spurs will bring impressive 2nd year man Kyle Anderson along with 2015 2nd round pick (55th overall) Cady Lalanne from UMass.
All in all it looks lots of young talent and fierce competition which should make for quite an early July attraction at EnergySolutions Arena. “It’s fun to see the excitement and momentum coming back” says Rigby, “We’re going to see some great talent coming up next week!”