Rocky Mountain Revue canceled for 2009
Once the pre-eminent summer league in the NBA, the Rocky Mountain Revue became a casualty of the recession and competition from a rival league in Las Vegas, with the Jazz announcing Friday its cancelation for this July.
Only five NBA teams -- Atlanta, Dallas, Golden State, New Jersey and San Antonio -- sent teams to the Revue last summer and even fewer were expected to do so this summer as a result of the economy.
"It's a major disappointment for us," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said, adding, "From all the people that I talked to, the basketball people, they all felt it was second to none. They all seemed to think it was so well run."
The Revue started as a pro-am league at Westminster College in 1984 and had an 11-team field as recently as 2004. Karl Malone and John Stockton played in it while Jazz draft picks from Quincy Lewis to Kosta Koufos made their debuts in the Revue.
Dave Allred, who helped found the league along with fellow former Jazz staffer Kim Turner, called Friday "kind of the end of an era," though he added, "It ran probably a lot longer than any of us expected it would."
The Jazz will play in an Orlando, Fla., summer league from July 6-10, and have not ruled out the Revue's return in 2010. But the cancelation of the Revue -- which previously happened in 1995 and 1998 due to NBA lockouts -- was a blow nevertheless.
The organization long has prided itself on having the best-run league, with large crowds for games at Salt Lake Community College, and an environment more conducive to welcoming young players to the NBA than the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.
Turner remembered arranging tee times for coaches and general managers from out of town over the years. "We did everything we could to make people feel at home and feel comfortable about the league and together it really worked out," Turner said.
Aside from the Lakers, Turner believed that every NBA team had taken part in the Revue. A generation of stars passed through Utah in the summer, including former MVPs Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki.
Every time he watches Amare Stoudemire play, Allred said he can't help but think back to Stoudemire's first game in the Revue with Phoenix in 2002. Executives from Larry Bird to Isiah Thomas were regulars scouting in the stands.
"You just kind of had these relationships you didn't get in the regular season," Allred said. "Especially when it was two weeks, you'd spend time in the bleachers watching game after game."
The Revue started in 1984 with former Jazz general manager Dave Checketts offering Turner and Allred a $1,000 bonus each if it made a profit.
Not knowing what to expect, they pulled out two sets of bleachers at Westminster for a game of ex-Brigham Young players featuring Danny Ainge and Fred Roberts against ex-Utah players including Tom Chambers.
Instead, Turner and Allred watched as the tiny gym was overrun with fans. "It was kind of an indicator of what it was going to be like for the next 20-some years," Allred said.
The Revue moved to East High, then shut down for a year in 1988. The Jazz sent Eric Leckner to play in a Los Angeles summer league and couldn't even get back stats from his games, leading to a reorganized Revue for 1989 and the modern era of summer leagues.
The Jazz had their game-night stat crew work the games along with NBA referees. The Revue moved to the Delta Center and grew as large as 16 teams (including some from overseas) before moving to SLCC in 2000 to recapture some of its intimacy.
It still drew a sellout crowd in 2007 to watch No. 2 overall draft pick Kevin Durant play for Seattle, but the Revue was put out of business by the Vegas league, which was founded in 2004 and grew to include 21 teams last summer.
With the economic crunch, fewer teams are willing to play in multiple leagues while others are merging entries or not fielding them at all. Just to reach eight teams, the 2008 Revue included the Iranian national team as well as a team of D-League players.
The Jazz's objections to Las Vegas go beyond the triple-digit temperatures expected in July. The league is run by the NBA and founded not by a team but by Warren LeGarie, an agent who represents several coaches.
Instead of making the trip down I-15, the Jazz will fly across the country to play five summer-league games. "We just felt that Orlando's a better basketball venue for the Utah Jazz," O'Connor said, choosing his words carefully.
Jazz president Randy Rigby thanked fans for all their support of the Revue in a statement, adding, "We look forward to finding other ways to connect with them this summer."
Year Player Team
2008 Anthony Morrow Golden State
2007 Paul Millsap Jazz
2006 Marvin Williams Atlanta
2005 Sean May Charlotte
2004 Jason Kapono Charlotte
2003 Lonny Baxter Chicago
2002 Chris Andersen Denver
2001 Zach Randolph Portland