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Mike Miller returns to SD, talks future

(Marcus Traxler/Republic) Mike Miller, top right, poses during a charity blackjack tournament Friday in downtown Sioux Falls at Icon Lounge. Miami Heat teammate Udonis Haslem and mixed martial arts fighters are also pictured.

SIOUX FALLS -- It remains business as usual for Mike Miller.

Nearly a month after winning his first NBA title, the Mitchell native is enjoying himself.

Miller spent Friday afternoon at Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls and hosted his 8th annual charity blackjack tournament at Icon Lounge Friday night in downtown Sioux Falls.

Miller said the plan remains in place to avoid surgery on the back that plagued his ability to contribute in the Miami Heat's playoff run. He put to rest any retirement plans earlier this week by telling The Associated Press, "No retirement."

"I'm just going to rehab and get ready. I'm going to continue doing the things that I do and get ready for the season," he said.

The 32-year-old Miller played extremely sparingly during most of the playoffs because of nagging injuries until Game 5 of the NBA Finals, when Miller hit seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points off the bench to help the Heat to a 4-1 series win and the NBA championship over Oklahoma City. After scoring eight points in the first four games combined, teammate Udonis Haslem -- who was also in attendance in Sioux Falls -- called the clinching performance one of the best of all-time.

"It was just fun to be a part of," Miller said Friday. "To be out there, obviously on that stage and to help a team win is gratifying."

After bouncing from Orlando to Memphis, Minnesota and Washington, Miller reached the pinnacle with Miami.

"It's exciting. It's what everyone plays for. Whether you're playing in high school or YMCA, you play to win. It was a long, hard process but it's worth it at the end.

Miller is under contract for the next two seasons, scheduled to make $5.8 million for next season and $6.2 million in 2013-14. Miller also has a player option worth $6.6 million with the Heat for 2014-15. Miami's recent offseason additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis may seem to make the role of another outside shooter a little more hazy but not for Miller.

"With the three guys we have, the more shooters, the better," Miller said. "We proved that last year. Every game someone different stepped up."

Then there's the other pressing offseason question: Why did Miller sell his spacious mansion in suburban Miami? Asked about it Friday, he said he made the decision with his wife.

"We just decided to sell it," he said, shrugging his shoulders and avoiding specifics.

For now, Miller is moving forward, hoping to get into his rehab plans for his ailing back next week.

"I feel better. Obviously, time helps. You need rest and try to stay strong and I'm feeling better every day, which is good," he said.

"My back is what has been causing the problems, especially with the swelling," he said. "We're going to try to avoid surgery for now."

When Haslem found out Miller was from South Dakota, Haslem, who was born and raised in Florida, was taken aback when he first saw Miller at an AAU tournament in the 10th grade.

"I had no idea. The way he was hoopin', I thought for sure he was from Kansas or Kentucky," he said with a laugh.

He said the pressure is not off with a title. Haslem feels the overbearing heat on Miami's big three, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, will only escalate this season with the target of champions on their back.

"I don't think it's off now," Haslem said. "I think it only gets worse. You're the number-one team and everyone is going to bring their A-game."

Along with Haslem, Miller had a bunch of his mixed martial arts friends in Sioux Falls for his event. Miller is a big fan of the sport and co-owns a gym in the Phoenix area.

"We all have our own professions but there's something exciting about being a part of this, a different capacity than actually playing," Miller said.