Filed under T, for Thanks Larry, is the following true story:
Six weeks ago, I went to my doctor to complete a physical examination. If memory serves (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't) the whole process began several months earlier, but in order to get a discount on my health insurance I had to have a couple more tests done before the end of the year.
So, anyway, there I sat on one of those examination tables, figuring I'd get the A-OK at any minute and be on my way.
Turns out I was wrong.
My doctor told me my blood work revealed I had Type 2 diabetes.Look, I understand there are far worse things to hear while sitting on one of those examination tables. The bad news I received that day is nothing compared to the truly devastating news others have received from their doctors.
Still, at that moment in time, I felt as though I'd been hit in the gut. I wanted to cry; wanted to run away and hide; wanted to pinch myself and wake up from the bad dream.
And then something strange happened.
I heard the words of late Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller.
Larry had Type 2 diabetes, I think most people know that. It eventually took his life in February of 2009.
Several years earlier, however, I stood inside a hallway at what they used to call the Delta Center and had a conversation with the charismatic Mr. Miller.
If memory serves (and, once again, there are no guarantees) it was a few weeks after a Jazz loss to the New York Knicks.
Never one to hide his emotions, Larry got up from his courtside seat during a second-half timeout, made his way to the Jazz bench and rather angrily let coach Jerry Sloan and his players know he wasn't at all pleased with their efforts.
Larry caught some flack for his outburst that night and he wound up staying away for the next several games. Then, weeks later, another reporter and I bumped into him after a morning shootaround at the arena.
The conversation began with Larry saying he was embarrassed at his overreaction during the Knicks game. He said he'd let his emotions get the better of him and said he was sorry for it.
At some point, the topic turned from overreactions and embarr-assment to responsibility and regret.
I distinctly remember Larry saying he regretted that he hadn't taken better care of himself, especially after being diagnosed with diabetes. Rather than focusing on managing the disease, he pushed himself to work harder in his career. Now his health was failing, he said, and he could see the trade-off wasn't worth it.
In his own way, Larry offered some timeless advice that day. He said it would be a mistake for anyone -- including the notebook jockeys standing in front of him -- to forsake their own health in favor of something more fleeting. And he admonished us to learn from his errors.
It's funny, really. Three months ago, I doubt I could have recalled anything about that conversation. But that day in the doctor's office, after they told me I had diabetes just like Larry, his words came rushing back like some sort of an existential warning.
And do you know what? I took them to heart. Since then, I've worked to get myself healthier. I eat better now. I exercise more. I've taken about 20 pounds off my Larry-like body and I'm doing all I can to manage my diabetes.
I'm amazed at how much better I feel and I'm determined to share my story with others, so they, too, will get checked for diabetes.
I'm also determined to keep Larry's lesson alive.
After all, I owe this guy.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can reached at (801) 625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247