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Miller to miss own classic for second straight year

Mitchell native and Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller will not be at the Mike Miller Classic basketball event next week, he confirmed to The Daily Republic in a phone conversation Thursday night.

Miller, who had hernia surgery at the end of November, will be with his team during its season-opening game against the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day and will be traveling with the team until he's fully healthy and ready to play.

The Mike Miller Classic starts Thursday at the Corn Palace and runs through Dec. 30.

Miller said he likely would have made the trip back to Mitchell if the NBA lockout was still in effect.

"It's a bittersweet thing," Miller said of not being able to make his own classic for the second straight year. "Everybody wanted to get back to playing, the fans, the players, everyone wanted to get NBA basketball back. We're happy we're back playing and that happened, but if we would have been locked out, it would have given me an opportunity to get back to the Mike Miller Classic."

Miller underwent shoulder and thumb surgery after the conclusion of last season. He played 41 regular-season games last year and averaged 5.6 points per game, down from his care average of 13.2.

When the NBA lockout ended on Dec. 8, it was reported that Miller was recovering from another surgery he had on Nov. 29 for a sports hernia.

Miller said he's recovering from the surgery and is looking to get back on the court soon.

"It's disappointing, but hopefully we'll get back sooner than later," Miller said. "Right now, I'm targeting the beginning of January, the second week in January, but we'll see how it goes. I just don't want to re-injure it.

"It's different than a lot of injuries I've had, and I feel good now. But that doesn't mean that everything is healed and I can go back to playing."

On Sunday, the NBA kicks off its regular season with five games, one of which is the Heat versus the Mavericks in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals. After the Heat open the season at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, a nationally televised game on ABC, they play a home game against the Celtics on Tuesday. Miami plays at Charlotte on Wednesday and plays at Minnesota on Friday, which is the second day of the Mike Miller Classic.

This year's Mike Miller Classic is a two-day event that is bringing 12 teams from South Dakota, Nevada, Minnesota, Tennessee and Indiana to the Corn Palace for boys' basketball games.

"It does mean a lot to me," Miller said. "It's one of the things we looked at when we started this trying to grow this thing into the biggest Christmas classic. It works out great for all the players and fans, so we're excited about it.

"Unfortunately, we aren't going to be able to make it. But we're going to make sure this thing is going to grow and get some of the best basketball around the world to South Dakota. We want the rest of the kids from around the United States of America to see what basketball is like in South Dakota, so it's a win-win for everyone."