CLEVELAND — C.J. Miles will always have a close connection to the Beehive State.
It's where his goddaughter lives.
It's where most of his friends live.
It's also where he lived while making most of his NBA memories and adult experiences.
"Pretty much, I grew up there. I became a man there for the most part," Miles said. "It was a big, big part of my life. Seven years is a long time for a young guy to be on one team."
The Jazz drafted Miles out of Dallas' Skyline High School as an 18-year-old. He played in Utah from 2005 until the swingman signed a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers this past offseason.
Miles called his first reunion with the Jazz in Utah two months ago "nerve-wracking" and "kind of funky."
"It just felt weird," he added.
Heading into this second game against his former team, the 6-6 swingman admitted he was much calmer.
"This time," he said an hour before tipoff, "I'm more relaxed going into it than I was."
Miles certainly looked right at home in Cleveland when this contest counted.
In the fourth quarter, Miles hit back-to-back 3-pointers and scored all 12 of his points to help push the Cavaliers past his old pals.
"It's my job coming off the bench to bring the spark and bring the energy and knock down shots," he said. "Guys look for me a little bit now to get rolling." It certainly wasn't the first time Miles has shot the Jazz out of a game.
But, after a wild up-and-down ride in Utah, he's found a role on this improving Cleveland team and is averaging 11.2 points.
"Everything's good," Miles said. "I've gotten more confident and comfortable as far as basketball-wise on the floor."
In his first season in a non-Jazz uniform, Miles still keeps up with his old team. He marvels at how different of a team the Jazz are now than just a year or so ago.
One day, the Jazz are in the Western Conference finals.
"Next thing you know," he said, "it's a different team."
Miles started listing off former teammates that have since come and gone. He was shocked because he figured Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and especially Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan "would be there forever."
And now, the Texas native is in the Midwest, making a new home after detaching settled roots in Utah.
"It's the way it happens," Miles said. "People go their separate ways. Stuff happens."
Including him warming up to Cleveland.
"The city is great. The people are great. The cold is a little different. Other than that, it's a good place to be," he said. "Really good fans. They love the team. They have a similar passion, just like it is in Salt Lake, for their team. It's been good."
BIRTHDAY BOY: In an interesting coincidence, Wednesday happened to be the birthdays of former NBA players Greg Ostertag and Shaquille O'Neal.
Incidentally, March 6 is also Jazz rookie Kevin Murphy's birthday. He turned 23.
"Really?" Jazz point guard Mo Williams said when told about Murphy's big day. "He's got to sing 'Happy Birthday' to himself. Absolutely. No question about it."
BAD NEWS: Though he's from Turkey, Enes Kanter grew up a big fan of professional wrestling in the U.S. He was such a big fan of the Undertaker that he was called "The Underkanter" while at Kentucky.
Kanter was saddened to hear that the wrestler's promoter, Paul Bearer, passed away.
"No way. That's crazy," Kanter said. "He was a funny guy."
Kanter's favorite memory of the eclectic wrestling personality?
"I remember he was bringing the (urn) and opening it (in the wrestling ring) and the lights were coming out," Kanter said. "It was pretty cool."
A moment later, Kanter tweeted out his condolences: "Ohh mann!!! Just heard about Paul Bearer. R.I.P my man. We all gonna miss u. #Undertaker"
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