Hotel ordeal disappoints Jazz owner

Published: Friday, Oct. 27 2006 12:37 a.m. MDT

Jazz owner Larry H. Miller on Thursday expressed disappointment in, and added several details to, an incident in Portland, Ore., last weekend that resulted in multiple team members being interviewed by police there regarding concerns about a possible sexual assault.

"It's very troublesome," Miller said, "even if nothing wrong happened, to put themselves in a position where it could have looked like something wrong — if they were in the wrong place they shouldn't have been, or whatever.

"That's not what we're about."

Miller suggested an evening of trouble began before "at least two" and perhaps "up to four" players returned to the team's RiverPlace hotel in downtown Portland following an apparent late night/early morning on the town.

Authorities were called to the hotel after an employee phoned regarding a woman who was said to be hysteric.

"Kevin (O'Connor, the Jazz's senior vice president of basketball operations) called me," Miller said, "and said, 'You just need to be aware the police are here asking questions. They've been doing interviews, and interviewed some other people that were witnesses, and everything supports what the Jazz players were saying, and it looks like they're fine.'"

According to Miller, witnesses confirmed what the unidentified Jazz players told police — that they did not want the woman to join them in one of their rooms.

Said Miller: "A cab driver said, 'They told her not to come with them.' The night clerk at the hotel heard them say, 'Don't come up to the room.'"

The case remains under investigation by Portland police, but the woman involved in the incident apparently is not cooperating.

"I don't know what that means — unless she was trying to set somebody up," Miller said. "But that's only a guess on my part."

Jazz players did answer police questions, though.

"All I know about the response," Miller said, "was the police said they were totally cooperative — that they were asked for their version of it, and would they give DNA samples? It turns out they didn't need to.

"So, I was satisfied with that part of it once it happened. I wasn't ... pleased at all with what happened in the first place."

Miller did not say specifically where Jazz players were before they returned to the hotel, but he did reference the case of Indiana player Stephen Jackson, who was struck by a car and allegedly fired gunshots during a recent incident at an Indianapolis strip club.

"What's scary is to think where it can go," Miller said. "I mean, it can get there really fast. You can ask Stephen Jackson that.

"It's been suggested we have any of them involved call their mothers and tell them where they were," the Jazz owner added. "Think about it — that's an interesting possible remedy. They've got say, 'Mom, you've got to know what led up to this.' ... Personally, I think they were someplace they shouldn't have been at a time they shouldn't have been."

Miller said all members of his team should "avoid the very appearances."

"Think back to (NBA retiree) Charles Barkley's statement, what, six, eight years ago, 'I don't want to be your kid's role model.' But I've got news for you, Charles: Whether you want to be or not, it goes with the territory," Miller said. "Not just being in the NBA, but when you're a star in the NBA.

"So, these guys have got to think about where they're at and what they're doing — and I'm disappointed with anybody that put themselves in that situation. I'd be surprised if it happens again."

Miller said he wanted to address the team Thursday, but was dissuaded from doing so.

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