The national spotlight will be on the Utah Jazz this season.
On Wednesday, the NBA announced two marquee nationally televised games for the Utah Jazz. First, the team’s home opener will see the Jazz host defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors on Friday, Oct. 19, at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.
The bigger news — first reported by ESPN on Tuesday afternoon and confirmed by The Tribune on Tuesday night — was the announcement that the Jazz will play on Christmas Day for the first time in 21 years. They’ll host Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN in only the Jazz’s third Christmas Day game since 1982.
Utah’s last Christmas Day game was in 1997 as the Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets 107-103. In 1988, the Jazz hosted the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, and won 101-87. Overall, the Jazz have played six times on Christmas Day, with a 4-2 record.
The star power of Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell had something to do with the Jazz being on national television. Last Christmas, Mitchell tweeted about getting a Christmas Day game in Utah, when the Jazz sported a record of 15-19.
Mitchell wasn’t the only Jazzman excited about the prospects of playing on Christmas. Since the announcement, Ricky Rubio, Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles have all tweeted about it.
As part of being selected for the slate of Christmas Day games, the Jazz will also get a unique jersey to wear. The jerseys will debut for that Christmas audience, though a previous report from Paul Lukas of Uniwatch indicated the jerseys wouldn’t reach retail until February 2019. In all, the Jazz could wear up to six different uniforms this season.
The Jazz’s home opener against the Warriors figures to get a lot of attention after Utah demolished the Warriors twice last season, winning by 30 points at home in January and then at Golden State by 40 points in April.
The full schedule will be announced Friday.