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News » Many knew and loved this guy

Many knew and loved this guy

Many knew and loved this guy
Larry H. Miller had to like what he saw Saturday afternoon from his courtside seat in the big arena in the sky. Not only were his family and closest friends gathered at EnergySolutions Arena, but a couple thousand more people assembled to show their love for him in a funeral service that was much more heartwarming than heart-wrenching. Many of the well-wishers were very well-known, including current and former Jazz players and coaches, the boss of the NBA, high-ranking politicians and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), among other dignitaries. "I think it shows how much he meant to everyone, what a dear friend he was to everyone," said Jazz assistant coach Scott Layden.

"I look around, and I'm happy for the respect that's being shown to the Miller family." Many of those with familiar faces considered it an honor and didn't think twice about traveling back to Utah for the final farewell to Miller, who died a week ago Friday at age 64 due to complications related to type 2 diabetes. Included in that group, perhaps to the surprise of some, was ex-Utah center Greg Ostertag, who had his share of ups and downs with the former Jazz owner during his NBA career. "I had to be here," said Ostertag, who became fast friends with Miller's youngest son, Bryan, when he joined the Jazz in 1995. "I played for him for 10 years," he added. "I knew him well enough, and he yelled at me enough ? so it was important to me." It was also important enough for old-school guys Karl Malone, Jeff Hornacek and Marc Iavaroni ? and John Stockton, who attended the private viewing on Friday ? to travel from their corners of the country. They were joined at the funeral by a handful of former players who've made Utah their permanent home, too, including Mark Eaton, Thurl Bailey, Pace Mannion and Ty Corbin, who's now an assistant coach. Ten of the 15 current players also took their spots on the Jazz bench during the services, while another player, Ronnie Price, sat with his expectant wife just behind his teammates. "I thought that was quite a tribute, to see some of the players made an effort to get back," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I think our players pretty much all respected Larry for what he was about, the work ethic that he had, the things that he expected a lot." David Stern, the NBA commissioner and Miller's friend, displayed how important it was to him and the league by flying out from New York for the funeral. The referees for Saturday night's game also attended, as did the Sacramento Kings' head coach, Kenny Natt, who has strong ties to the Jazz and Miller. Natt played briefly for the Jazz, then became Sloan's assistant coach for nine years before eventually taking over the reins in Sacramento this season. He's always had a soft spot in his heart for the Millers, both Larry and Gail, who formed a special bond with his daughter while here. "We have the game, but I'd be here anyway if we didn't have the game tonight," Natt said. "I'm just so saddened of his passing because Larry was a great man and he touched the heart of so many people in the way that he cared for everyone, so we're going to miss him." He believes the entire league will. "Obviously, he's been such a mainstay in the NBA for such a long time," Natt added, "I think the whole NBA is grieving of his loss." So, too, is all of Utah, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who was among the political leaders in attendance along with Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. "I flew out (from Washington) especially for this," Hatch said. "I wasn't going to fail to be here to pay my respects to somebody who's done so much for our home state." Hatch appreciates what Miller did for Utah with the Jazz and the far-reaching effects his entrepreneurship and philanthropic efforts have had on so many. "I've known Larry a long time," Hatch said. "I don't know of very many people in his category who have done so much for our state, who meant so much to us and who really just had a great attitude and a great ability to help people. And he did it day in, day out. "But most importantly," Hatch added, "he was a decent, honorable man, a wonderful husband, a wonderful father, grandfather and a terrific, terrific businessman. You know, how can you find a better person?" Sloan found it "tremendously fitting" that the funeral was held in the building that Miller loved and labored over in order to make a permanent home for the NBA team that he also loved and labored for since buying the franchise in the mid-1980s. Sloan also considered the funeral to be an proper farewell for his former friend and boss. "I thought it was a terrific tribute what was said and the way the family was involved in it," said Sloan in soft-spoken tones. "I thought it was very nice." E-mail:

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Added: March 2, 2009


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