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LARRY MILLER APOLOGIZES FOR INCIDENT

With that familiar emotional sincerity, Jazz owner Larry H. Miller apologized to much of the world Thursday. He said several times that he'd been stupid. He said he embarrassed himself, his family, the team, city and state. "I screwed up," he said. "This isn't my style." He announced an NBA-approved, somewhat self-imposed exile from Thursday's game in Denver and the next two home games. And he said he probably won't expend so much time and energy watching the Jazz in the future.

He did not apologize directly to specific Denver Nuggets fans with whom he had an altercation during Tuesday's halftime, and he said the assault was "on me. I got chest-bumped with the intent to knock me down the stairs, and in reacting to that, I got shoved from the side by a second person."That did not, he said, excuse what he did. "I should be more responsible than I was," he said.

After some 40 hours of silence - a period of time that Miller acknowledged made him look worse - on the incident that brought adverse national attention, Miller was ready in a 2 p.m. Delta-Center news conference to "clarify my side of what happened.

"The general thing is, I made a stupid mistake. I feel badly that I have embarrassed the franchise, the city, the state and my family. I'm embarrassed myself," Miller said. He was talking about Tuesday's bizarre halftime when he decided to - politely, at first, he says - evict Denver fans Robert Babich, Al Liberman, Bob Tapper and Paula Browne from his family's seats. That followed a confrontation with his own player bench as the half was about to expire.

After taking a day and a half to gather himself, Miller said, "To our players, our coaches, our fans, my family or any others, including those from Denver, that I have offended, I apologize. Perhaps the fact is, I just shouldn't be doing what I'm doing."

Asked later if that meant he will sell the Jazz, Miller said, "It means I'm not planning on being as involved with the basketball team as I've been. I don't know what it means. It means, if I get to a point . . . and I don't have the good judgment to stay out of there and (not) cause this kind of problem for all of us, then I need to figure out a better way to do it. Whether that means not watching games, I don't know."

Miller, who faces possible charges pending police investigation and could be further penalized by the NBA, said he is dismayed because he made recent personal changes to spend more time with his family. "To have something of this type develop when I'm trying to go exactly the opposite direction makes me stop and ask what I'm doing out there in the first place," he said.

Miller said Tuesday was a strangely emotional night for him. He didn't know why it got to him as much as it did. There has been speculation that business pressures, the turmoil over his sudden March 10 sale of the Golden Eagles hockey team and his March 14 sideline shouting match with the Los Angeles Lakers' Elden Campbell had a cumulative effect. "If you look at the time proximity, there's certainly an argument for it," Miller said. "I am not aware of any outside forces at work, but it sure came on me strong."

Miller said he didn't mean to do what he did in Tuesday's incidents.

Of the first, in which he hustled from his seats to the Jazz bench about a minute before halftime and shouted at coach Jerry Sloan to bench some players he thought weren't performing, referring partly to Karl Malone, Miller said his original intention was to leave the area. The Jazz basket at the time was near his front-row seats. "I found myself being too distressed about a couple of our guys' performance, and I didn't want to holler something harmful to them," he said. "That would have been stupid. Instead, I went to the other corner and hollered something stupid."

Miller yelled to Sloan, "We've got some guys that didn't show up tonight. I put a couple of other words with it," he said. "He didn't hear me the first time. I repeated it. My exact words referring to those who hadn't showed up: `They should be on the bench.' "

When asked about Malone saying he was hurt, Miller said, "I would find it interesting for Karl to be judgmental about one who shot his mouth off," noting Malone's frequent talks with the media. "In nine years, this is the first shot I've taken at him, and I did, I took a shot at Karl. I said something I shouldn't have said." Miller added he thought he and Malone could talk the problem out and said he would talk with coaches and team when they returned today from Denver.

Following the news conference, Miller gave his version of Tuesday's events.

When Miller entered the halftime locker room, guard John Stockton said, "If you're too mad to be here - don't."

Miller considered it sound advice and went to the training room for water and Advil for a headache. He said a cabinet door was already off one hinge and hit a TV bracket as it closed, making it bend sideways and starting reports he'd damaged the facility. He returned to hear Sloan's halftime speech, then headed for the tunnel.

"After Stockton gave me his words of wisdom, I thought, `I'm OK. I've got a grip,"' Miller said. "So I didn't feel any high level of anxiety."

However, when he looked for his children, as usual, "They weren't all there, and I noticed this one guy was standing in those seats." Miller thought it might be a family friend until he saw the man's "Mt. Mutombo" shirt and began listening to what he was yelling. "It was close to (the end of) halftime, so I thought, `I'll just ask him to move up there,"' he said. "My first words were, `Would you please do that?' "

The fan didn't move. "My request got a little more forceful," Miller said. "We hollered bad words at each other." Miller said one fan "hit me five times that hard," demonstrating noticeable force that "wasn't anything brutal." Miller said he was looking for security then, and it surprised him. "I turned back, and he chest-bumped me. Then . . . this other guy shoves me." After they were parted, one of the fans called him a--- five times. "The first four I handled," he said, and then he turned back, restrained again by son Greg and DC security chief Brad Freckleton. Photos made it look like he might throw a punch, but Miller said that never entered his mind.

Miller said he didn't want to dwell on the provocation. "There was no justification in my mind, because of who I am, for me being there in the first place. I'm not trying to hide from that. I screwed up," Miller said.