Regardless of what size splash the Utah Jazz make in the NBA's free agent pool, I'm here to tell you I see CEO Greg Miller in a different light than I did a year ago.
Six weeks ago, even.
Late last month, Miller and other executives at the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies invited a who's who of local media to a get-together at the LHM corporate offices in Sandy. Somehow, my name was mistakenly added to the otherwise impressive list.
If I'm being completely honest, I had some doubts whether Greg Miller, the eldest son of late Jazz owner Larry H. Miller, was truly running the company or whether he was -- I know this will sound terrible -- more of a figurehead. With Larry Miller, we knew the guy. With Greg, it was anyone's guess and, frankly, history hasn't always been kind to sons who follow their dynamic fathers.
But my view now is much different. Granted, the meeting took place on Miller's turf, with confidants on either side of him, but I don't believe its purpose was to pull a smoke-and-mirrors job on the media.
Rather, it was used to give reporters an honest view of Miller's responsibilities not only with the Jazz, but as head of the entire group of companies. In that regard, I'd say it was highly successful.
See, in the weeks leading up to the June 27 NBA draft, Miller received several completely legitimate interview requests. Rather than field each request individually - which understandably would have take some time -- Miller and his public relations team decided to hold a collective meeting with representatives from most major media outlets.
We were told the meeting would be on the record with the request that we not broadcast any recordings. As newspaper guy, I had no problem with that.
In the meeting, Miller spoke candidly about his role at LHM and his responsibilities beyond the Jazz.
Initially, I wondered if this wasn't his way of doing some sort of an end around. I'd often thought to myself, "He's no Larry Miller and probably never will be."
Turns out Greg, 47, agrees. In fact, that's the first thing he told us.
"I'm not my dad," he said. "I don't want to be my dad."
Well, I hadn't looked at it THAT way.
Larry Miller, who died in 2009, was a passionate, principled man and a terrific leader. He was extremely hands-on and seemed to enjoy his many exchanges with the media. His son correctly pointed out that while that was great for fans and reporters, it wasn't necessarily great for the company.
While noting a few key differences between he and his father, Greg Miller said he thinks he's a better administrator than his dad ever was. That might sound like a bold statement, but it's accurate.
I mentioned I had my doubts about Greg as the head of the company but those doubts were erased as I observed his leadership skills and business sense. His desire to be less hands-on with the minutia of the media seemed, to me, a wise decision.
And while I'd love to have the guy on my speed dial, I certainly recognize the wisdom in limiting my access.
I truly did come away from the meeting with a greater understanding of the LHM group as a business and the Millers as a family. I also gained a greater appreciation for Greg Miller's role with the Jazz, which involves more than simply writing checks.
On the other hand, he doesn't micromanage his basketball execs, which is a good thing.
Miller also reiterated his desire to see the Jazz compete at the NBA's highest level. Realistically, that's not going to happen this coming season but given the infrastructure in place, I'd say it will happen.
Admittedly, I wondered if Greg Miller was as competitively charged and as driven as his father.
I'm now convinced he is.