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Dwyane Wade’s Next Chapter: Co-owner of the Utah Jazz

Last Updated: July 21, 2021
The Miami Heat legend joins majority partner Ryan Smith’s small ownership group with an eye towards shaping the Jazz on and off the court.

Dwyane Wade is set to write another chapter in his book of basketball, and this time, it’s from the owner’s box. The three-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer announced on Friday that he has purchased a minority ownership stake in the Utah Jazz. 

Although the specifics of the deal are not available to the public as of this writing, Wade isn’t joining up merely as investor. He’s headed out west to help mold the future of a truly talented team that boasts a trio of All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley.

The Jazz currently hold the NBA’s best record at 42-14, including a dazzling 26-3 home record.

Wade joins a small ownership group that includes Ryan Smith and his wife, Ashley, Smith’s Accel partner Ryan Sweeney, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, and the Miller family, who previously owned the franchise. Smith, the majority owner, founded the popular analytics platform, Qualtrics, which is based in Provo, Utah, 45 miles from Salt Lake City.

The group purchased the team from the Millers last October for $1.66 billion. The transaction also included home venue Vivint Arena, the Salt Lake City Stars G League affiliate, and the Salt Lake Bees, a Triple-A minor league baseball club.

Smith told ESPN that their pursuit of Wade was highly deliberate, and he envisions that the Heat legend will be a major part of setting the tone in Utah.

“There is a broad picture here. It’s much more than just basketball. This league is the biggest platform that there is, and we ran toward that,” he said. “This isn’t a league where we came in saying, ‘Hey, this has gone somewhere we’re not comfortable with.’ This is actually what we signed up for. We’re the newest ownership group. We’re the youngest. Dwyane’s a perfect fit.”

For those close to Wade, the move will not come a surprise. He has been developing his business portfolio long before his 2019 retirement; he connected with Smith around that time, and cites the Jazz governor as one of his greatest mentors.

When presented with the opportunity to join the ownership group, Wade saw it not only as a sound investment, but as a chance to enhance his commitment to various social justice causes and build a platform for himself and others.

“Unfortunately, people in my community don’t get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity. To make real change, this is where you have to be — at the top — and Ryan knows that. I’m thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills,” Wade told ESPN.

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D-Wade joins an elite group of former NBA stars to join team ownership groups, including former Miami teammate Shaquille O’Neal (Sacramento Kings), Grant Hill (Atlanta Hawks), and Michael Jordan (Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets), the latter of whom is the first former player to become a majority owner.

Seeing Wade playing such a prominent role with a franchise outside the 305 will take some getting used to. But with all the good the 13-time All-Star is capable of doing, it’s hard not to get excited about what’s possible in Salt Lake City.

About The Author
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos
Bernadette Doykos is the Senior Director of Editorial Strategy at Boardroom. Before joining the team, her work appeared in ELLE. She previously served as the head of evaluation for a nonprofit where she became obsessed with systems and strategy and served as the curator of vibes and extinguisher of fires for the design thinking firm Stoked. She is constantly plotting a perfect tunnel ‘fit and a playlist for all occasions.