Mike Miller admits he considered retiring after last year, but happy to be back
Mike Miller is "completely, 100 percent satisfied" with his NBA career, he told The Daily Republic Friday afternoon.
After helping the Miami Heat to an NBA championship last season, the Mitchell native returned to the league despite fighting back, ankle and sports hernia injuries at the end of the year. The Heat's series-clinching game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was a standout one for Miller, who netted 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting from behind the three-point line.
After the great end to last year, Miller admitted he pondered retirement in the offseason. But he decided to return to the team and he's helped Miami to one of the best records in the NBA at 42-14. After defeating the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night, the Heat are riding a 13-game win streak.
"The reason I thought about it last year was because of the situation with my back," said Miller, who did not have back surgery in the offseason but got healthy through rehabilitation. "I was completely transparent and open with everyone in the organization that if I felt like I was going to be just a roster spot and just collect a check and I wouldn't have a chance to help the team, then I would retire. But I was able to see great doctors, do a lot of rehab and I feel great right now.
"As long as that stays the way it is, I have a few years after this year left on my contract and if I feel like I can help teams or this team, which I feel I can right now, then I'll be playing. If not, I'll make the decision and be completely happy."
In 2010, Miller was a free agent who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Heat after stops with Orlando, Memphis, Minnesota and Washington. Perhaps his best season of his career came with Memphis in 2005-06, when he averaged 13.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists and was named the NBA's sixth man of the year.
He played in 41 games his first year with Miami and 39 games last year despite playing through injuries. Recently, he's missed time because of an ear infection. Friday night, Miller did not get on the court and has been out since Feb. 8. Before the game, Miller said he's healthy and looking to help the team any way possible.
This year, he's averaging 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. On Christmas, Miller reached a milestone in his career of scoring his 10,000th career point in the NBA. He is the 48th active player to hit the mark, and it's just another of the many achievements he's earned.
"If someone would have told me 16 years ago when I left Mitchell, South Dakota, to go to the University of Florida that I would be a rookie of the year, the sixth man of the year, score 10,000 career points and have an NBA championship, I would have thought they were crazy," Miller said. " ... I'm happy to be where I'm at, and I'll make any decision down the path I need to when it's time to."
Miller realizes the great run he's had playing professionally. He's not certain when he'll start thinking more about retirement. This season is his 13th year in the NBA and he has tallied 10,054 points.
"I take it day by day," Miller said. "I've had a great run. I feel really, really good and healthy right now, which is the most important thing. The kids are happy with me being with the Miami Heat, so I'm going to continue to focus on being healthy and work hard every day. "Whatever path I choose when it's time to choose that path, I'm going to make that decision and go full speed ahead with it."
Miller has three children with his wife, Jennifer, a former University of Florida volleyball player.
It was announced in November that Miller will be inducted to the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame later this month. Because the Heat have games scheduled the day before and after the induction, Miller will not be able to attend the banquet. He said his parents, Tom and Sheryl, will likely represent him at the ceremony, held March 23 in Madison.
As a high school player for the Mitchell Kernels, Miller scored a school-record 1,743 points in his career, which ran from 1995 to 1998. He holds six Mitchell High School basketball records and helped the Kernels to a pair of state titles.
"You never expect to be in the hall of fames anywhere," Miller said. "To have my name be apart of that and South Dakota basketball forever is exciting."
Miller and the Heat are back in action at noon Sunday, when they travel to play the New York Knicks. The game is being televised nationally on ABC.
"Obviously coming off a championship the expectations are there," Miller said. "Everyone is aiming for us like they have when this team was put together. We're playing at the highest level right now and it's a lot of fun being a part of this group."