Sam was the founder and principal owner of the New Orleans Jazz and Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1974 to 1986. He also served as chairman, CEO and governor of the franchise. He was appointed by the NBA Commissioner to serve on the Advisory Committee of the NBA Board of Governors.
The first player signed by the Jazz was Pete Maravich. After moving to Utah, Adrian Dantley, John Stockton and Karl Malone became members of the team. All of these players, along with coach Jerry Sloan, have been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Sam was a director of Sambo’s Restaurants Inc., founded in Santa Barbara in 1957. He was elected president in 1967 when the company had 59 restaurants. The company had an initial public offering in 1969 and became listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Sambo’s eventually opened over 1,100 restaurants nationwide. He served as a board member of the National Restaurant Association.
He was the founder and chairman of Dreams, Inc., which traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and Field of Dreams, a national chain of sports and celebrity memorabilia stores. The flagship division became FansEdge, a leading e-commerce company operating close to 100 sites for major corporations, professional sports teams and retail sports licensing companies.
Sam played for fellow 2015 Court of Champions Inductee Coach Gene Snyder at Santa Barbara High School.
Sam and his wife Nan have six children and eleven grandchildren.