Q&A with Mitchell Native Mike Miller at Legends
Mitchell native Mike Miller visited Sioux Falls on Saturday and stopped by the Sanford Pentagon for the Legends basketball clinic.
Miller helped lead the Memphis Grizzlies to the playoffs this past season, but failed to move past the first round against Oklahoma City. In 82 games played, he played 20.8 minutes a game, and averaged 7.1 points, and 2.5 rebounds per game. He shot 48.1% from the field, and 45.9% from long range.
The South Dakota native played in all seven of the Grizzlies playoff games, averaging 7.3 points, and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting 35.7% from the field and 48.3% from beyond the arc.
After playing for Memphis in 2013-2014, Miller has opted out of his contract and is a free agent.
ESPN 99.1's Sam Tastad caught up with Miller before the Sanford Legends basketball clinic and asked him about his season in 2013-2014, Dave Joerger, winning two NBA championships, playing with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, and coming back to South Dakota.
ST: How was your season going back to Memphis after playing for the Grizzlies from 2003-2006?
MM: "It was a lot of fun. You know, obviously, we had a tough stretch with some injuries, but we still won 50 some games, and made the playoffs. The West is just so hard. Oklahoma City got us in seven in the first round."
ST: What was it like playing for head coach Dave Joerger?
MM: "Awesome. A lot of fun. You know, I think, obviously, everyone thinks he has a bright future. That's why he got the head job, but to seem him grow, and do the things he's done this year through the injuries, to keep that team together and do the things we did, is all him. So, I see him more as friend than actually a coach now."
Joerger was rumored to be the next Minnesota Timberwolves head coach, but decided to return to Memphis.
ST: What has been the key to Miller's longevity in the NBA?
MM: "Hard work. You know, you have to put your egos and stuff aside, and find a role, and position in this league. Then, work hard at it. I got back in the lab, and got myself healthy again, and that's what it is all about."
ST: Are you feeling healthy now after finishing your 14th season in the NBA?
MM: “I mean, I feel great. If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would play 14 years in the NBA, be Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and have two world championships, you know, you look back at that, and think about it. I don’t want to sit and think about it yet because I don’t want to be done. I think I have three or four more good years left in me, and see how it plays out.”
ST: After winning two championships back-to-back with the Miami Heat, what was that feeling like?
MM: "That's what it is all about. That's really what everyone does stuff for. Try to get to the mountaintop. Doesn't matter if you are basketball player, or working a day job, what your goals are to get to the mountaintop of your profession and that's it. So, it's an unbelievable feeling."
ST: What was it like playing with James, Wade and Bosh in Miami?
MM: "Awesome. They are the best players in the world to play with. Not only does everyone see how good of players they are, but good teammates. Great guys to be around, and that's how you win championships. The difference between good teams and great teams."
ST: Favorite moments of NBA career?
MM: "NBA Finals."
ST: What does Miller love about giving back to kids at Legends?
MM: "To see what I used to be, and what my kids are now, my own kids, and to be a part of it to hopefully inspire to do a little more with their life, whether basketball or anything else. It's a lot of fun."
ST: What do you love about coming back to South Dakota?
MM: "Just the people. I miss the people. It's the reason why I am where I am now. It's fun to see them."
ST: Advice for young ballplayers?
MM: "Working hard. Like I said, it's the dedication, commitment level, and sacrifice. You put in what you get out. I used the analogy, like a ATM machine. If you don't put any money into it, and go get your card nothing comes out. Don't be surprised."
*For comments, and story ideas, email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @samtaastad.