by Alex Poletti
Photo by Sam Forencich
The economic downturn of 2020 has found its way to the NBA, with the Utah Jazz laying off some non-basketball personnel. While the decision was in part for economic necessity, Jazz president Jim Olson says this is inspired by the current state of the jazz musicians in the world at large.
“We are the Utah Jazz,” Olson tells a room of people who already know. “Now half of that is Utah, and we can’t help that. But the other half is Jazz, and we are very proud of that. We’ve found that we have strayed from those roots, so we’re going to moving to a place that reflects that of jazz musicians around the country: unemployment.”
While the layoffs are not widespread, the full scale of the action has not been disclosed to the public at this time. The Jazz are one of 80 companies within the Larry H. Miller group to lay off workers, but the first NBA team to do so.
“Jazz as a genre of music has always been trailblazing,” Olson explains. “Now it’s our turn to blaze some trails. We already kind of did that on the court, but not necessarily in the most positive way. However, cutting costs in a small market may be our niche.”
The Jazz were in great shape before league commissioner Adam Silver announced that the league would be postponed, sitting in fourth place in a stacked Western Conference. They were also the first team to have confirmed cases of the coronavirus, leading to the league-wide shutdown that may be in place for the rest of the season.
“In this time, we will try our best to support the Jazz family,” Olson says. “We also suggest that employees, both past and present, take this time to explore what jazz means. This could be as simple as taking your current profession to the streets for meager pay. However you connect with it, really.”
While Olson has been laying off workers, players like Rudy Golbert have picked up the tab, donating $200,000 to support arena workers who would otherwise go unpaid. Olson, the head of a mega-corporate conglomerate, has not taken a pay cut amid the layoffs, nor has any of his own money gone to support his workers during this unprecedented time.
“Well that’s not very in the spirit of jazz, baby,” Olson says, suddenly sporting a fedora. “There’s always been a head honcho who has profited off the little guy, paying way less for what songs are worth and so forth. Wait—maybe that was Motown. Ah, it doesn’t matter. Same ballpark.”
*This article is a work of satire. Though certain elements and quotes may be based on true events, this should not be taken as fact.