clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

'Oh Larry, please come back!'

Larry H. Miller was nowhere to be found, Tuesday night at the Delta Center. He wasn't in the pressroom or the locker room. Nor was he in his customary courtside seats.

They could not find him here or there, they could not find him anywhere.

Which was probably a good thing.

He wouldn't have wanted to see this in person.

Once again, the Jazz owner was MIA. He may have been watching on TV or simply driving around brooding. Whatever the case, the show must go on, with or without the man who kept the Jazz in Salt Lake. How long he continues his self-imposed exile is anyone's guess.

Maybe he should wait until his mood improves. Or until the Jazz look better. Or until pigs fly, whichever comes first.

The way things are going, he may need to change his car commercials from "You know this guy!" to "Where is this guy?"

"(Miller) probably couldn't have been too happy with this," said guard Devin Brown. "But he's the owner and it's about the guys who put on their jerseys. We've got to play for ourselves now."

Miller's absence foiled what would have been a return of two principals, in the Jazz's lackluster 84-60 loss to Indiana. Andrei Kirilenko, the team's hope for a better tomorrow, was back in action where he rightfully belongs. Miller, however, wasn't. His streak of unexplained absences at home games is now four, dating back to two weeks ago when he went ballistic, thanks to a less-than-impressive effort by his team. Ever since, he's been as elusive as Garbo. For all the public knows, he could be tooling around town wearing a fake nose and glasses.

Kirilenko's return from an ankle injury marked the quasi-end of a period of glaring absences. He entered the game to a swell of approval from the crowd. Moments later he scored his first points on a crazy bank shot from 16 feet. He curled into the lane, drawing a foul, scooped a pass to Kris Humphries for a dunk.

He even reined in his urge to take silly perimeter shots.

Not that he was at his best. At times he was out of synch, same as everyone else. The Jazz's point total was their lowest total in Delta Center history. Still, if proof of Kirilenko's value is necessary, consider this: Last year, when he missed 41 games due to injuries, the Jazz won six more games with him in the lineup than they did when he was out. This year the Jazz were 4-3 before he went down earlier this month, 2-5 after.

A slightly more complicated issue is Miller, who hasn't been seen in the media since making a scene Nov. 14 on the sidelines, during a loss to New York. Miller walked to the Jazz bench during a time out and railed on players for their lack of effort. He later left the building and hasn't returned.

Still, despite being emotional and demanding, Miller has put his money behind his mouth. He committed $55 million this year to make the Jazz respectable again. In that light, the club needs him courtside to show that he too is in it for the long haul. And to demonstrate neither he nor his team is leaving the building for good.

Emotional outbursts aside, Miller has done far too much for the franchise to warrant staying away too long. He saved it from leaving for Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Anaheim, Toronto or other cities when the team was struggling. He managed to keep John Stockton and Karl Malone together in one market for 18 years.

Miller has punished himself long enough. It's time for his return, too.

Maybe the Jazz need to be chewed out again by their owner, anyway.

And with attendance falling, they could always use one more body in the seats.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com