Tom Smart, Deseret News
LOS ANGELES — In a rather roundabout way, Los Angeles Lakers owner
Jerry Buss can take a slice of credit for the Jazz being his franchise's
opponent in their second-round NBA playoff series that gets underway
That's the extrapolation from one of many
Jazz-related anecdotes in \"Driven,\" the newly released autobiography of
late Jazz owner Larry H. Miller ($25.99; Deseret Book).
After agreeing to purchase half of the
franchise from former owner Sam Battistone, a sale that paved the way to
his saving the team and eventually buying it in full, Miller was
questioned by members of the NBA's finance committee.
He was getting grilled during a meeting in
New York by then-San Antonio Spurs owner Angelo Drossos when, as Miller
remembers, Buss came to his rescue.
Recalls Miller in the book: \"Angelo, for some
reason, took the lead in the meeting and asked me a question. Midway
through my answer, he interrupted and asked me another question. Midway
through my next question, he interrupted me again with another question.
... After the fifth interruption, Buss, whom I had never met,
\" 'Angelo, why don't you shut up and let him
answer a question?' ... Jerry saved me that day. I won approval from the
Had he not, the Jazz might not exist today —
and there's no telling whom the Lakers might be playing this postseason.A few other newsy and notable Jazz anecdotes from \"Driven\":Miller reveals the long-secret story of former
center Greg Ostertag's worst pass ever: \"Once, in the locker room at
halftime, (coach) Jerry (Sloan) was talking to the team and said
something that Greg Ostertag didn't like.\"Ostertag threw a bag of
ice at Sloan's head.
\"Jerry simply moved his
head to one side to dodge the ice and then kept talking as if nothing
Miller remembers some of the pampered demands star
Karl Malone had negotiated into his final contract with the Jazz,
including a secluded hotel room on a different floor than his teammates
and a fruit basket upon arrival at each hotel:
\"I guess the clincher
came about six months later when the agent (Dwight Manley) called
(then-team president) Denny (Haslam) again and said, '... Lately the
fruit baskets have been getting smaller.' Denny swallowed real hard and
said, 'What do you want — more apples or bananas?' The answer, 'More of
everything.' \"Collaborator Doug Robinson, a Deseret News
columnist and feature writer, describes how Malone spent four days with
Miller as the Jazz owner endured a lengthy pre-death hospital stay:
\"Malone became another nurse for Miller. He fetched cold towels and
glasses of water; he massaged Larry's arm and wiped his mouth and helped
him in and out of his wheelchair and bed.\"
Miller shares the
story of an NBA Board of Governors meeting in which late Detroit Pistons
owner Bill Davidson, then age 80, dressed down brash new Dallas
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who \"made billions at a young age in cable
and computer businesses\":
\"During the meeting, he (Cuban) got on his
soapbox about something and started talking and went on and on like this
for some time. I guess you would say he was full of himself. ...
(Davidson) listened to the rant patiently, and finally, when Cuban
stopped, he said, 'As far as I'm concerned, you're a snot-nosed punk who
got lucky.' ... Cuban shut up for the rest of the day.\"
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