Retired Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton on Friday remembered a long-ago conversation he had with Jazz owner Larry H. Miller as Eaton faced what he expected would be contentious contract talks between his agent and the team's budget-conscious negotiators.
"Larry told me, 'Look, if things get too hot -- if there's an impasse -- call me,'" Eaton said. "And that's exactly what happened. So I called him and went to his office. We sat down and hammered it out, just like he said we would."
Years later, Eaton still appreciated Miller's grasp of a difficult and emotional situation.
"He was someone I admired greatly because of his ability to get things done and his passion for what he cared about," Eaton said.
After Miller's death Friday from complications related to diabetes, sports, business, religious and political leaders joined Eaton in praising Miller's compassion, sense of community and competitiveness.
"He was a fiery owner and he stuck by his principles," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. "He wasn't afraid to jump in the huddle and say what was on his mind.
"He's somebody I looked up to, and a lot of other younger owners looked up to, too ... I respected Larry for the way he did things."
In a statement released by the NBA, commissioner David Stern said: "Larry's legacy extends beyond the NBA, as he touched many lives ... through his business and charitable endeavors. The NBA lost a great leader, colleague and friend today. We will miss him."
To honor Miller, a moment of silence will be observed before every NBA game played tonight. A moment of silence and video tribute will precede the Jazz's game against New Orleans.
"It's a sad day," retired Jazz star John Stockton said. "He was a wonderful person who did so much for me and my family. For that, we will always be grateful."
Noting that Miller died nearly a month after undergoing a double-amputation of his lower legs, Stockton added: "I'm happy for him in a way, because we know he had been suffering terribly and is now at peace."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan worked for Miller for nearly 25 years, since joining the team as an assistant in 1984.
"He will always be in our hearts for what he's done," he said. "He's certainly someone we're all going to miss."
Sloan's players agreed.
"Everybody here in Salt Lake said, "He's running the team how I would run it,' " Jarron Collins said. "He's hands on, he demands the best effort every night you step on the court. He ran the team in a way that fans could truly appreciate, and that defines who he is."
Kyle Korver came to the Jazz from Philadelphia in a December 2007 and was given the locker next to Miller's in the locker room.
Korver admitted he had no idea what to expect, but it was immediately obvious that Miller's investment was more than just monetary.
"Larry's personality really rubbed off on our team," Korver said. "He was a fighter all the way to the end. You just feel terrible about it. Hopefully, our team's play can be a reflection of how he lived."
Tribune reporter Ross Siler contributed to this story.