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In memoriam: Larry Miller

Larry Miller, the owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and the very model of a small-market owner, passed away yesterday due to complications from diabetes.
Larry Miller, the owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, passed away yesterday due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. He was 64.

A Salt Lake City native, Miller dropped out of college and worked in the car industry before purchasing a Utah Toyota dealership in 1979. He then parlayed that success into a corporate empire that included the Utah Jazz; he purchased a half-interest of the team in 1984 and then bought out Sam Battistone’s interest in 1986 to save the team from moving. He kept putting money into the team and eventualyl built the Delta Center (now EnergySolutions Arena) for $73 million. The team was in the red after Miller’s eventual $100 million in investments. The Jazz were and still are a model of stability, reaching the NBA playoffs in 22 of the last 25 seasons..

From the Deseret News:

Miller not only became the 10th largest car dealer in the nation, with 42 dealerships in six states, but he also began acquiring other businesses in the coming years. The Larry H. Miller Group eventually included 74 business enterprises — movie theaters, auto dealerships, a world-class race track, a movie production company, an advertising agency, ranches, restaurants, TV and radio stations, a real estate development company, an NBA franchise, a professional baseball team, an NBA arena, a motorsports park, sports apparel stores and various philanthropic organizations. At one time they produced $3.2 billion in sales annually.

A 2008 heart attack was the beginning of the end for Miller; he turned over control of his companies to his son and worked to regain his health. He eventually lost both legs due to diabetes and suffered through various other ailments.