PGA Tour pro Tony Finau is a proud Utahn who grew up in the shadows of Vivint Arena.

And after years of rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers, the famed Salt Laker has finally switched allegiances to his hometown team.

The news was broken late last month by the NBA’s preeminent news breaker.

“The fan rights of lifelong Lakers fan Tony Finau have been acquired by the Utah Jazz,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in a video he recorded for the golfer, “I’m told for a heavily protected first-round pick and a couple of Titleist balls they dug out of the lake.”

The reason for Finau’s change of heart?

That’d be his friend and new Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith.

“He’s an amazing individual,” Finau said. “We just have an authentic relationship. When he bought the team, I knew then and there my fan rights would be moved to where they belonged. That’s home in Utah.”

After teaming up with U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan in a charity golf event this week, Finau sat down with Jazz sideline reporter Kristen Kenney to discuss his relationship with Smith and the Jazz.

On growing up in Utah:

“I played basketball all the way into high school. I think before I wanted to be a pro golfer, I would have told you I wanted to be in the NBA. I played Jr. Jazz and in high school. I had a great time doing that. I loved playing basketball. I still play pickup to this day. The last time, I played was with Ryan Smith.”

On Mike Conley:

“We have a Tony at Top Golf event that we do and Conley showed up for that. He was the star of the show. He loves golf. We hit it off. I’ve played golf with him at Victory Ranch a couple of times and got to know him. He’s an amazing individual. I hope we can collaborate and continue to do things together in the future.” 

On Conley’s golf game:

“He’s got a pretty nice swing. He’s got the touch. He’s an amazing athlete. Hopefully we can tee it up when we both have time this summer.”

On his NBA fandom:

“I was a Laker fan. A big Kobe fan. Unfortunately, Kobe left us this past year. They won the championship and I think they did it for Kobe. It just seemed right. That’s a perfect ending, I feel like, to a chapter of my fandom. Ryan Smith is a great friend of mine. I’m a huge Utah fan now. So, go Jazz!”

On his 2021 golf goals:

“My biggest goal is going to be winning on the PGA Tour. I feel like my game has been primed and ready for it. I’m in a good place.”


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