Longtime suite licensee pulls support from Jazz, NBA over Black Lives Matter

Sep 23, 2020, 4:27 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:22 am
Utah Jazz masks...
File: The Vivint Smart Home Arena is shown Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — An organization with members that helped fabricate the steel used in construction of what is now known as Vivint Arena, and which has licensed a full suite to all Utah Jazz games since 1992, says it’s ending that relationship over the Black Lives Matter movement. 

In a letter dated September 9, 2020, the CEO, Owner, President, and VP of Finance of SME Steel Contractors laid out their concerns to the Jazz and Miller.

The company notified the Utah Jazz and owner Gail Miller that it will not renew its licensing agreement or make further payment until “the NBA and its franchises again offer sports and entertainment rather than divisive political propaganda.”

RELATED: Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has died

“Our disappointment and disillusionment with the recent actions of the NBA — including the owners, coaches and players of the Utah Jazz — are almost beyond expression,” the letter states.

“We have been stunned to see the entire Jazz team kneeling during the playing of our country’s national anthem.”

On June 29, 2020, ESPN reported that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association would paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on the courts of all three arenas on which the NBA would play within the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, upon resumption of its abbreviated 2020 basketball season.

This move was a direct result, according to ESPN, of NBA players who wanted to use their platform to speak in favor of social justice and racial equality, a subject which roared back into the public spotlight on May 25, 2020. That day, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was videotaped kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. The video shows that Officer Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes.

Floyd did not survive.

In their letter to the Jazz and Jazz owner Gail Miller, SME Steel Contractors said the NBA restart in Orlando “appears to be a billboard for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.” SME bemoaned, also, the practice of placing slogans and names on the NBA player jerseys.

RELATED: Daughter of Utah Jazz great Stockton to play in Germany

“It seems odd and inappropriate for NBA players to adorn their jerseys with names and tributes for felons and politically-divisive slogans from Black Lives Matter, when true heroes like Chris Kyle and Pat Tillman go unnoticed and unremarked.”

The letter ends by SME advising the NBA and the Utah Jazz to “put a stop to disrespectful actions during the anthem and remove the Black Lives Matter logos from the arena.”

Otherwise, SME says it will not utilize their suite, or make further payment, or renew its licensing agreement.

The Utah Jazz declined to comment.


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Longtime suite licensee pulls support from Jazz, NBA over Black Lives Matter