“Not only is this group focused on building a championship franchise, they are also committed to using their platform to do good and actively create a more inclusive, equitable world,” Wade said in a statement. “We share a lot of the same goals and are trying to go the same places in life. As a businessman, entrepreneur, and investor, I bring a lot to this partnership outside of my basketball experience. I’m excited to help take the Utah Jazz to the next level.”
Wade, 39, retired in 2019 after a 16-year playing career with the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. The 13-time all-star, three-time champion and future Hall of Famer became a TNT studio commentator in 2019, and he eyed a possible stake in the Heat before reaching a deal with Smith.
“We had discussed having [Wade] join our ownership group after his retirement but he was not prepared to commit at the time,” Heat owner Micky Arison wrote on Twitter. “Of course I am disappointed that he didn’t reconsider. Having said that I wish him good luck and much success with the Jazz. To me Dwyane will always be a HEAT lifer.”
Wade’s agreement with the Jazz makes him the latest in a line of NBA players to obtain ownership stakes: Michael Jordan is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Shaquille O’Neal is a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings, and Grant Hill is a minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks. LeBron James recently joined Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and English soccer power Liverpool, and Kevin Durant is a minority owner of Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. Last week, former baseball star Alex Rodriguez confirmed he was in talks to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves from longtime owner Glen Taylor.
Wade netted nearly $200 million in earnings during his playing career in addition to his off-court sponsorship agreements. The terms of his stake were not disclosed, but minority investors must purchase at least 1 percent of an organization per league rules. Smith acquired the Jazz from Gail Miller for $1.66 billion.
The Jazz, which has the NBA’s best record at 42-14, is seeking the first title in franchise history.
“Dwyane is not only a basketball legend, he is also a great leader, businessman, and human being,” Smith, who co-founded Qualtrics, said in a statement. “As we continue to build on the incredible legacy of the Utah Jazz franchise, we are excited to add Dwyane’s experience and expertise to the equation.”