Zions Bank Fantasy Basketball Tournament
There was a buzz in Salt Lake City and across the Intermountain region for the start of this year’s NBA season a few weeks ago. Expectations and the level of excitement are as high as they were in the late 1990s for the young and rising Utah Jazz.
The Jazz were among the NBA’s most surprising teams last season, thanks to the electrifying play of rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell, the dominating defense of Rudy Gobert, the “lights-out” shooting of Joe Ingles and complimentary performances from a full cast of true team players.
Following the loss of Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics in free agency prior to last season, most (including me) expected the Jazz to take a step back. However, for the second straight year, the Jazz advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
While I’m not foolish enough to expect a repeat of 1997 and 1998 when the Jazz reached the NBA finals, I’m also not foolish enough to think this team couldn’t get there in the next year or two. Even ESPN ranked Utah fifth in the league (and third in the Western Conference) in its “way-too-early” edition of the NBA Power Rankings.
Almost as exciting as another NBA season is Zions Bank’s annual employee Fantasy Basketball Tournament, which took place in September. For the past 10 years, the bank has partnered with the Utah Jazz to host this event. It supports the charitable arm of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and features four teams of Zions Bank employees from across the organization competing for the title of company champions.
This is not your average tournament. In addition to the glory of being crowned champions, the participants get to play at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, the private training facility of the Utah Jazz. Each of the four teams is coached by a member of the Utah Jazz coaching staff, “assisted” by members of the Zions Bank executive management team. And each game is filmed while David Locke, the radio voice of the Utah Jazz, provides play-by-play and expert analysis on a DVD provided to each participant.
Admittedly, the level of play is not anything that would warrant a visit by player scouts or agents. In reality, the most important people in attendance are the training staff and EMTs. However, for those who participate, and their families, friends and co-workers who attend, the event is one of their most unforgettable sports moments.
This year’s was even more memorable because Donovan Mitchell made a surprise appearance and took the time to say hello and sign autographs. He is the real deal, on and off the court.
We have loved our partnership with the Utah Jazz for decades, but never more than we do now. This team, and each of its players, are all the real deal.
While we don’t know what this season will ultimately bring, we know one thing for certain … it will be a lot of fun.
Executive Vice President
Corporate Marketinging and Communications