Friday, February 27, 2009

Larry H. Miller, rest in peace

Tomorrow we lay to rest a good man, a great Utahn, Larry H. Miller, who died a week ago today. There is an article in today's Salt Lake Tribune by Gordon Monson about Karl Malone's last conversations with Miller, who, in addition to being his boss, was his mentor, and a father-figure. It is really a beautiful piece on friendship and love. The Mailman recounts how sitting by "Miller's bedside, day after day... it pained him to see his friend's condition.

'It hurt me all day to sit there and watch him suffer... When I heard [about Larry's death], I thought, 'He's not suffering anymore.'

'Not one time did I hear him complain or say, 'Why me?' Not one time did he say that.

'Larry Miller was my hero. Looking into his eyes, I said all the things I wanted to say to him.'"

During one of their last encounters, according to Malone, Miller said to him, "When the end comes, I do not want to see you crying. I want you to smile. When I met you, you were smiling, and, if this is your last time seeing me, I want you to smile... That's what I want from you. Is that asking too much?"

If there were more owners of professional sports franchises like Larry H. Miller the landscape of professional sports would be much different, that is to say, much better. To us here in Utah Larry Miller was so much more than just than a rich car dealer and the owner of the Utah Jazz, or even a benefactor of many good causes, to end he was one of us. Last year at a Jazz-Lakers game, my Dad and I had the chance to sit a few seats down from him. He was just watching the game, talking to us all, commiserating about the favorable treatment Kobe Bryant was getting from the refs, etc. If you didn't know who he was, you would have never guessed he owned the team! He put on no airs! His marketing slogan for his car dealerships for most of the past several years was, "Hey, you know this guy". It is because we all, in a way, knew "this guy" that we will miss him.

I am a sports fan, but I try not to inundate my blog with it. I love the Utes and the Jazz. The Jazz are currently on a six-game winning streak, going 3-0 since Larry's passing. They have also won nine of their last ten games. All of this, under the steady hand of Jerry Sloane, comes just in time for a nice play-off push, despite a season during which injuries have been significant. Go, Jazz!

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