This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sometime before the best season in franchise history, Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller asked one of his superstars for some fashion advice.
What did John Stockton think about changing jerseys?
"Nope," the Hall of Fame point guard recalls saying. "I know my opinion. I didn't want to change anything. The Yankees don't change their logo. That was my attitude. So why do the Jazz have to change theirs?
"He took my advice and put it where it mattered, I guess."
Miller may have tossed Stockton's two cents in the trash, but you wouldn't have to look far to find someone around these parts who thinks those uniforms purple and blue with a jagged mountainscape across the chest should have been thrown away before they debuted 20 years ago.
But fashion, as they say, is cyclical.
And what's old is new again or at least it would be if the youngsters who represent the Utah Jazz now had their way.
"To me, it's just one of the best jerseys the Jazz ever had or, retro-wise, that there is in the NBA," forward Trey Lyles said. "Just from a fashion standpoint, I think the guys are into it. You see a lot of people wearing the retro jersey nowadays."
Lyles, 21, is a collector of jerseys, and sports different looks, from a Wayne Gretzky St. Louis Blues jersey to a Jesus Shuttlesworth uniform, to the arena on game days.
Right now, he's trying to add to his collection.
"I'm actually trying to find a Karl Malone [mountain jersey] right now," he said.
Come on. Really?
Even the man who helped spearhead the change before the 1996-97 season doesn't love the look.
"I think we're better off today," Larry H. Miller Group executive vice president Jay Francis said with a laugh.
Back when he was hired by the Jazz in 1983, Francis helped conduct some market research. The results were not favorable. Fans didn't connect with the name, imported here from New Orleans. Nor did they care for the Mardi Gras colors or the musical note in the team's logo.
"We put the league on notice that we wanted to change both the name and the logo," Francis recalled.
You can thank (or blame) Frank Layden and the 1983-84 Jazz team for putting a stop to that. The Jazz won the Midwest Division that season behind the play of Adrian Dantley and Darrell Griffith, and merchandise finally started selling.
"For the first time when I traveled," Francis said, "people didn't ask me if I was with a musical group."
The name would stay forever. The logo, however, eventually would get a major makeover.
By the mid-1990s, the NBA was encouraging teams to shake up things, tweak their logos and colors and introduce secondary jerseys. The Jazz's big change came in 1996.
The mountain logo was produced with help from the NBA's marketing and retail team. The mountains were meant to make the logo feel distinctly Utah. As for the color scheme, the designers incorporated the Jazz's purple, but added teal ("the real hot retail color back then," Francis said, as evidenced by the popularity of the Charlotte Hornets' merchandise) and copper in an homage to Utah's Kennecott Copper ("that was probably a stretch," Francis admits).
The new look presented some problems right away.
"Just like a lot of things, until you start using it, you don't realize some of the issues. There were some issues reproducing it," Francis said. "That copper was really tough. You could do it in print sometimes. But in monogramming it, it almost became pink."
The look has been panned plenty. A writer for Fox Sports once called them "the corniest jerseys in NBA history." Another writer at Bleacher Report said they "could've been a perfect match for a Coors logo."
The 2017 Utah Jazz? They just love them.
"I think it would be nice if we played a game or two in them," said point guard Raul Neto, whose Brazilian father always wanted his son to model his game after Stockton's.
Gordon Hayward digs them.
And Dante Exum hopes to see the Jazz incorporate the look on occasion when Nike takes over the NBA's jersey contract next season.
"I want to play in them," the 21-year-old Exum said. "I just think it's cool. It's kind of where the Jazz has been. I think it's a good thing to pay tribute in that way. But also, I mean, it just looks pretty cool, if you ask me."
The 54-year-old Stockton, who wore black sneakers and his T-shirt tucked into his jeans Wednesday morning in Salt Lake City, may not be the most fashionable guy. But even he is coming around to the jersey he once disliked so much.
At least a little bit.
"Years later, you look back on it and that's the logo we went to the Finals in and had some of our greatest experiences and memories as players," Stockton said. "So I'm kind of torn now."
Then he added, "But I do like the original."
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