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Posted: 8:50 PM- With his father still hospitalized after five weeks due to complications from diabetes, the oldest son of Jazz owner Larry Miller moved a step closer Wednesday to taking over the team.
Greg Miller, who has worked the past two years at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele County, was named chief executive officer of his father's group of companies. Larry Miller will serve as chairman of a newly created 10-member governing board.
Since he was hospitalized June 10, the state of Larry Miller's health has been closely guarded by the family. Greg Miller said his father is in a rehabilitation unit where he is undergoing physical therapy to regain his strength, energy and mobility.
As he was introduced at a late-afternoon news conference in the lobby of the Jordan Commons complex in Sandy, Greg Miller said his appointment was not prompted by a decline in his 64-year-old father's condition.
"His health continues to improve," Greg Miller said, "and this decision is one that he drove."
There is no timetable for Larry Miller to be released from the hospital, his son said, although he was hopeful that his father would attend the Jazz's home opener this season.
"My opinion is that he's had a great deal of time to just reflect on what he wants to do with his time, with his life," Greg Miller said, "and the fact is he's worked harder than any of us can imagine for 40-plus years and he's earned the right to decide what he wants to do with his time.
"And I believe that he has decided that it's time for the page to be turned in his family business and for him to move on and do things of a more philanthropic nature and spend time with my mom and do whatever he wants to do."
Greg Miller, 42, said his father has "certainly made his presence felt" while hospitalized and would have a "critical voice" in the future direction of the Jazz and his businesses.
"He will have that as long as he's alive, as far as I'm concerned, and I hope that's for a long, long time," Greg Miller said.
Although he has worked for his father since he was 12, helping to stock parts and sweep floors at an auto dealership, Greg Miller has not been involved with the Jazz. He has never represented the team at the NBA's Board of Governors meetings and said his father had retained the role of owner.
"That's not part of my assignment right this second," Greg Miller said. His father has owned the Jazz since 1985, with the franchise most recently valued at $342 million by Forbes magazine.
There will be no changes within the Jazz's operations, Greg Miller said. Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor described things Wednesday as "business as usual."
"Greg has been growing up in the company almost all his working life," said Dennis Haslam, the Jazz's former president and a childhood friend of Larry Miller. "He has sat in a lot of different chairs and has had a lot of different experiences."
Although his father still will have decision-making power, Greg Miller will step into a key role with the Jazz at a time when they are trying to build on consecutive playoff seasons and sign guard Deron Williams to a potential $90 million contract extension.
He was unequivocal in saying that ownership of the Jazz would remain in the Miller family: "Absolutely, as long as I have anything to say about it."
Greg Miller suggested his style as CEO will be dramatically different than his father's as owner. Larry Miller sits courtside for games at EnergySolutions Arena, has his own stall in the Jazz locker room, slaps hands with his players during introductions and calls in weekly to sports radio shows.
"I don't think anybody wants to hear what I have to say," Greg Miller said. "I like to go under the radar. I think I've got a lot to learn before I'm in a position where anybody would want to listen to my opinion."
The family, meanwhile, has declined to specify the complications from which Larry Miller is suffering. The most serious complications stemming from type 2 diabetes include heart disease, blindness, kidney damage and nerve damage.
"I believe that he will get better," Greg Miller said. "I mean, I see it. I see the progression, and it's continual, it's steady, and I think he'll be just fine."
In a statement, Larry Miller praised his son as having done "an excellent job of learning all aspects of the company" while adding that he still planned to "continue to maintain a hands-on role in the company."
With the family having discussed the succession for "several years," Greg Miller said Wednesday's announcement did not come as a surprise.
"It had to happen one day," he said, "and just in the natural flow of things, it turned out that today was the day.
"It wasn't a surprise. It was a dose of reality. It's here now, it's not something that I'm looking forward to any more because it's arrived. So now it's time to get to work and make a contribution."