Quantcast

Randy Hollis: Mini-Mailman Paul Millsap will be missed by many

Published: Saturday, July 6 2013 9:03 p.m. MDT

Utah's Paul Millsap puts up a shot over Denver's Wilson Chandler as the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in Salt Lake City at EnergySolutions Arena. Denver beat the Jazz 113-96. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Utah's Paul Millsap puts up a shot over Denver's Wilson Chandler as the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in Salt Lake City at EnergySolutions Arena. Denver beat the Jazz 113-96. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Paul Millsap came to the Utah Jazz in 2006 as a soft-spoken power forward and unheralded second-round draft choice out of Louisiana Tech University.

Yes, the same southern school that brought the Jazz franchise another power forward you might've heard of, a kid named Karl Malone.

And while Millsap wasn't ever going to be The Mailman — and hey, let's face it, who is? — he gave the Jazz franchise seven solid seasons of hard-working, team-first, maximum-effort, play-when-he's-hurt and get-'er-done basketball that Jazz fans should forever admire and appreciate.

Yes, in his own determined way, Millsap was a mini-Mailman, 'cause he definitely delivered, too.

After last season, we knew this day was probably coming.

And on Friday, the rebuilding Jazz franchise bid goodbye to Millsap, who agreed to a two-year, $19 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks.

What's worse, he took high-energy fan favorite DeMarre Carroll to the Hawks with him, too.

Millsap was seldom spectacular — well, except for that memorable night in November 2010 at Miami, where he poured in a career-high 46 points in Utah's amazing 116-114 overtime victory.

That night, Millsap scored 11 points in 28 seconds at the end of regulation, including three 3-pointers — one more 3 than he had made in his entire NBA career up to that point. His buzzer-beating basket at the end of regulation forced overtime and capped Utah's comeback from a 22-point deficit against the Heat's then-newly assembled superstar trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — who suffered their first homecourt loss to the Jazz that night.

Most of the time, though, Millsap was just a super-steady, reliable guy who always came to play, even when he was banged up, and was always willing to give the Jazz all he had.

No one could ever question his effort or willingness to work hard and do whatever was necessary to help his team win.

But, at times, it seemed like there was a small segment of Utah's fan base that, quite frankly, didn't always appreciate him the way it should. At least, there were those who liked to complain about how undersized Millsap, who stands 6-foot-8 and 253 pounds, was to be playing power forward in the NBA.

True, though 6-8 and 253 sounds mighty big to most of us, it's actually a bit on the small size by NBA power forward standards nowadays.

But hey, absolutely nobody could ever question the size of Paul Millsap's heart.

It's no wonder the guy led the country in rebounding for three straight seasons while playing at La. Tech. Because if anything is defined by hustle, determination and sheer will, it's rebounding — especially when a guy stands 6-8 and is under the basket constantly banging bodies with behemoth-sized guys who are often 3, 4, 5 or 6 inches taller and 20-50 pounds heaver than he is.

No, he wasn't flashy or the least bit flamboyant. And he didn't make any outlandish pregame predictions, do any on-court trash talking, offer up any ridiculous postgame comments or commit any off-court crimes or stupid mistakes that served to embarrass him or his teammates.

Instead, he let his game do his talking for him, was always cordial and accommodating with the media, and simply went out each day and did his job the best way he knew how.

In fact, in some ways, he seemed to be a somewhat shy guy without much ego in a league filled with guys whose gigantic egos often won't fit in a stadium the size of Montana, much less EnergySolutions Arena.

Over his last five seasons here, Millsap averaged between 13.5 and 17.3 points per game, along with between 6.8 and 8.6 rebounds. But his contributions to the team's success during his seven seasons in a Jazz uniform go much deeper than sheer numbers.

Paul Millsap is what's considered a "great team guy" — one who puts the team ahead of himself, doesn't complain about his role or his playing time, and tries to do whatever he can to help his team win and get better.

And what more could you ask, after all? He will definitely be missed by his many fans in Utah.

email: rhollis@deseretnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company