The Birth of the New Orleans Jazz|
(394 total words in this text)
The Birth of the New
March 7, 1974 the NBA awarded the league’s 18th team, an expansion franchise,
to the city of New Orleans. The expansion fee for the franchise was $6.15
million, and the ownership group was a nine-man syndicate primarily composed
of Californians. The most noted of these was Sam Battistone of Santa Barbara,
whose fortune came from the Sambo’s restaurant chain.
Orleans at the time was in a period of economic growth. After the
national economic growth trends of the fifties and sixties, the metro area
was experiencing a regional growth spurt, primarily due to the booming
oil economy in south Louisiana. The city’s skyline was growing by
leaps and bounds, with buildings being constructed up and down Poydras Street,
most notable among them the Louisiana Superdome. There was rapid growth in the
suburbs to handle the amount of incoming relocatees.
The awarding of the NBA franchise was an
affirmation of this growth and positive change, another step in the notion of
New Orleans being a ‘big-league’ town: “Now all we need for the Dome is a
name “Jazz” was soon announced as the name for the new team, and the Mardi Gras
colors of purple, green and gold
chosen as the team’s colors. The unique logo was also unveiled—an intriguing art
deco spelling of the word ‘Jazz’, with the leading ‘J’ incorporating both a
musical note and a basketball.
Bertka was named general manager of the team, Scotty Robertson was hired
as the first head coach, and the team acquired famed guard “Pistol Pete”
Maravich from the Atlanta Hawks as their first player. The Pistol was a
flashy scorer and a home-state hero out of LSU, and as such created even more
fan interest in the team. Another local hero, Aaron James of Grambling (and New
Orleans’ Cohen High School), was the team’s first draft pick.
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