SALT LAKE CITY -- With her voice cracking slightly, Larry H. Miller's widow, Gail, welcomed first-round draft pick Gordon Hayward to the team her late husband oversaw with his own emotional passion.
As a welcoming gift, she handed the 20-year-old small forward a copy of Larry Miller's recently-published biography.
"Just so you'll know a little bit more about our organization, I brought you a book about our owner who passed away about a year-and-a-half ago," Gail Miller said at Friday afternoon's press conference. "If you read it you'll understand what we're about. Judging from what I've seen, and from meeting your family, I think you'll fit right in."
Although some fans loudly made their displeasure known after the team took Hayward with the No. 9 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft, the former all-NCAA tournament selection joined the Jazz brainstrust in voicing their mutual excitement for the future.
"I'm glad you're here, welcome to the Utah Jazz family," Jazz CEO Greg Miller told Hayward. "I hope you have a long, healthy, productive and prosperous NBA career and I hope you help us win a championship."
Hayward, his parents, twin sister and girlfriend arrived in town from New York earlier in the afternoon. However, his luggage never made it, prompting the family to sneak off to a local department store to buy a white dress shirt, tie and pair of slacks.
Hayward, who helped lead the Butler Bulldogs to this year's Final Four and the NCAA tournament title game, said it felt surreal to be a part of an NBA franchise.
As a high school sophomore, he almost gave up basketball to focus full time on a budding tennis career. He said he came up with a speech he planned to give to his basketball coach and even admitted to practicing it in the shower.
"Basketball was always my love, I loved playing it," he said. "But I was thinking realistically. I was good at tennis and I wanted to play a sport in college."
Once standing just 5-foot-4 as an eighth grader, Hayward now stands nearly 6-foot-9.
"I loved basketball too much to give it up," the former point guard said. "I was blessed with a late growth spurt and the skills kind of came with."
Hayward's skills weren't necessarily at the top of the Jazz's wish list as they went into this year's draft. In need of a power forward or a center, there were three or four players above him on their draft board.
However, when those players went within the first eight picks, Jazz officials suddenly had a decision to make: take a bigger player they weren't completely sold on, or take a wing like Hayward whom they really liked.
"There's disappointment we didn't get one of the top three picks," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said. "But I think the draft went like we had it. We expected some of those guys we really, really liked, to go early. That's just part of the nature (of the draft)."
Ultimately, the Jazz settled on Hayward, largely because they were impressed with the Indiana native's understanding and feel for the game -- his basketball IQ.
"I think at the collegiate level, Gordon made everybody on the floor better," O'Connor said.
Now that he has been drafted in the NBA, Hayward said one of his primary objectives is to buy a car, something he admitted he has never before owned.
In high school he drove his parent's minivan, which he nicknamed "The White Warrior."
Acting quickly and referring to the industry in which Larry H. Miller made his fortune, O'Connor turned to the audience at the press conference and said, "We know a couple places he can get a car."