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News » Harpring will be missed by Jazz, but few others in NBA

Harpring will be missed by Jazz, but few others in NBA

Harpring will be missed by Jazz, but few others in NBA Apparently the Utah Jazz will miss Matt Harpring and his hard-nosed style of play quite a bit more than the rest of the NBA will. "Talk to a number of guys around the league," Deron Williams said, "and they hate playing us for the simple fact they have to go up against Matt Harpring." Opponents can rest easier now, of course. Harpring said on Thursday that, barring "a miracle," his NBA playing days are over because injuries have taken a toll on his 33-year-old body.

The news wasn't exactly unexpected in the Jazz locker room. "We knew he was trying to come back," Williams said, "but just knew his body wasn't really where it needed to be to play. ... We're going to miss what he brings to this team." For the past seven seasons in Utah, that included tenacity, some grittiness and grumpiness, and veteran leadership ? along with a scoring spark off the bench. "Matt did a terrific job for us," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He gave us toughness on our team and he played hard." All qualities that were similar to those Sloan has embraced throughout his playing and coaching careers, which is why Harpring was nicknamed "Little Jerry" by teammates toward the end of the John Stockton and Karl Malone era. It wasn't a secret that Harpring, who played 11 NBA seasons total, was a Sloan favorite. "He practiced hard. He put it out there every day," Sloan said. "It didn't make any difference what the score was in the ballgame, he always put out the effort that you appreciate in a player." Sloan also called Harpring a "gym rat" whose energy and passion for Basketball are missed. "It hurt our team when we lost him," the Jazz coach said. Unlike opponents, Carlos Boozer appreciated Harpring for being "as tough as it gets" on the court. "Matt was a football player in a Basketball person's body," the power forward said. "A tough guy, great player, brought it every day in practice, every day in the game, always focused." Added Boozer: "He's been a huge part of this franchise for a long time and, of course, we wish him the best of luck, but we definitely miss him." ROUGH DEBUT: C.J. Miles was bouncing off the walls before Friday's game in anticipation of playing for the first time this season after missing two months with a thumb injury. The ball did the most bouncing while he played, however. Miles badly missed all three shots he took in 13 scoreless minutes off the bench. The shooting guard airballed his first attempt, rimmed out a 3-point heave and banged another long ball off the backboard. "The jitters," Miles said, "are gone now." A problem, according to Sloan, is that Miles' physical conditioning is gone for now, too. "He's not in very good shape to make a long story short," the coach said. "You can't play this game without being in shape. You're always playing catch-up ? that hurts anybody." Sloan added that Miles, who's only participated in two full practices, has "a lot of hard work" ahead of him. The small forward said a big part of that is finding a playing rhythm again. "I didn't feel bad at all on the court. I didn't' feel like I was winded at all," Miles said. "I was just trying to find some type of crease, some type of place in there, where I could figure out what was really going on." NOT FEELING GREEN: A day after joking that the Jazz's throwback jerseys were a "John Deere green," Sloan took a witty potshot at the color of the uniforms Utah wore Friday for the NBA's Hardwood Classics Nights. "Well," Sloan said, "I'm not really fond of green except on a tractor." e-mail:

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Added: December 6, 2009


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