Saturday, August 9, 2008

God bless Larry H. Miller

Larry H. Miller is a great owner, for all of his faults. He is open and honest, and more than anything else, he is a fan who loves his team. Sure, the former Auto Parts salesman has more going for him than just the Jazz franchise (valued at: $342 million at the end of 2007 according to Forbes Magazine).

He "employs more than 7,000 workers in six states and generates $3 billion in revenues . . . [including] more than 40 dealerships; prestige financial services; [tv and radio stations]; the Miller Motorsports Park; the Energy Solutions Arena and Zions Bank Basketball Center training facility; various restaurants; office buildings and megaplex movie theatres." (House, 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune, citing the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies)

If you didn't know, he has recently recovered from a very significant series of near-fatal health issues (mostly complications of his Type II Diabetes, a heart attack, renal system failure and current diagnostic tool dynamics) which needed a number of surgeries to correct. After 59 days in the hospital he has been released and is using a wheelchair and/or walker to move around. Physiotherapy is needed, and he will have a full recovery in a number of months. I was worried, and not just because he's basically handed over to keys to his kingdom to his eldest son, Greg Miller.

Larry H. Miller is still going to talk, but he's going to take better care of his health, which means working less Larry H. Miller points the way for eldest son, and new CEO Greg Miller  Larry H. Miller will be back in his court side seats come the first game of the pre-season
Photographed by Tom Smart, for The Deseret News Photographed by Rick Egan, for The Salt Lake Tribune No Photo credit

His passing would have been devastating for the team, but also the greater community at large. After all, 'you know this guy' could have very well become 'You knew this guy.' Miller himself reveals that he "almost died four times," (Miller, via Siler, 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune).

I'm glad that he did not.

Miller is going to continue to talk with David Locke (hopefully), on 1320 KFan (how many team owners have weekly time on talk radio?); and during his post-press conference interview he revealed many interesting things. John Stockton and Karl Malone were both in town to see him (Karl spent the middle part of Miller's hospital stay with him in the hospital -- Miller and Malone's relationship for those just checking in goes between brother/brother and father/brother during the course of any given year, they are close). If Dr. Buss gets sick, do you think Shaq or Kobe would visit him in the hospital if they were retired and living in other parts of the country? (No, Buss would be too busy with his 23 year old Asian girls) Inspiring Loyalty: you're doing it wrong

Probably the biggest point that he made was that he strongly suggested that the Jazz were not going to go over the luxury tax, and that he felt like CJ Miles got paid a bit too much money. But, it wasn't his decision to make anymore. I find this interesting because he has stated on air (I could dig it up if I had to) that he was open to paying the tax for a season or two if keeping the core together was worth the reward of winning the title. What has changed since then? I don't know.

What it does is it makes the next off-season really crazy when Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and others come looking for new deals (and potential raises). The performance of the team in this 2008-2009 season will go a long way towards loosening Miller's purse strings. Right now, though, the Jazz team, and the Jazz fans should be happy to have Miller's heart strings properly tied back together.