Miller on NBA ‘all-unathletic’ team
Mitchell’s most famous athlete has been deemed unathletic. Or so says a panel of guys on TV.
According to the NBATV show “The Starters,” Mitchell native and Memphis Grizzlies small forward Mike Miller is one of the league’s five all-time most unathletic players.
The panel put together a team of five players who they deemed were unathletic. No specifics were given about how the members of the panel chose the players or what criteria made the players unathletic.
Miller was chosen as a shooting guard on the team, which consisted of two guards, two forwards and a center. The show’s hosts said the starting five only consists of players since 1980 because “all of the NBA’s players before then were unathletic.”
Given those qualifications, the show’s list was meant to be light-hearted and not taken overly serious.
Even host J.E. Skeets said Miller probably shouldn’t be in the shooting guard position on that hypothetical starting five.
“We’re probably forcing Mike Miller into the shooting guard position,” Skeets said on the show. “The shooting guard and small forward were difficult because they’re usually very athletic guys.”
According to basketball-reference.com, a detailed NBA statistics website, Miller has played 65 percent of his career at the small forward position, while 31 percent of the time he’s been at the 2-guard, or shooting guard spot.
To call Miller unathletic may be amusing to those who watched Miller in his Kernels hayday. Former Mitchell boys basketball coach Gary Munsen recalled a memory in an interview with The Daily Republic last year that explained exactly how athletic Miller was during his high school days.
Munsen explained during a 1998 Mitchell basketball game in which the Kernels were blowing out Aberdeen Central in Aberdeen, the Golden Eagles purposely turned the ball over to allow “Skinny” to throw down a 360-degree spinning dunk. That appeased the Aberdeen fans cheering for a Miller slam.
“Those students loved him more than anybody else that night,” Munsen said.
The show’s four hosts put Miller on the all-unathletic team with his Memphis teammate Zach Randolph, Washington point guard Andre Miller, who is 38, and center Peter John Ramos, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2005. Also on the team was Glen Rice, who made three All-Star games in 15 seasons.
In 2010, Miller, who turned 34 in February, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that his dunking days were mostly over. He said then that players get tagged with labels in the league and his labels don’t include athleticism.
“I don’t think (my game) ever changed,” Miller said then. “The label changed. Once you’re labeled in this league, you’re labeled. I have no problem with it. I’ve had a good career.”
He’s dunked five times in the last four years, according to basketball-reference.com. The last of his dunks came Jan. 10 against Phoenix. He has 151 dunks total for his 13-year career, averaging about 11.5 per season.
In comparison, four-time league most valuable player and Miller’s former teammate LeBron James averages about 116 dunks per season.
And when it comes to dunks, Miller is unfortunately known more for being dunked on. When searching “Mike Miller dunks” online, likely to be found are highlights of San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard demonstratively dunking on the Mitchell native in Game 6 of last season’s NBA Finals. Miller, then with the Miami Heat, got the last laugh, though, when the Heat won the series in seven games. That earned Miller his second championship ring.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said at the time that Miller’s athleticism has been overlooked, noting that during Miller’s college career at Florida included playing both power forward, point guard and positions in between.
Of course, Memphis isn’t keeping Miller around to dunk the ball or block shots. This season, 89 percent of Miller’s shots were jumpers and he was the league’s third-best 3-point shooter, hitting almost 46 percent of his shots from behind the arc. He averaged 7.1 points per game this season, his best scoring season since 2009-10, when Miller was with Washington.
And Miller can still move pretty well. Thanks to new technology installed in NBA arenas this season called SportVU, which tracks where every player is on the court at all times, Miller ran a total 119.3 miles while playing this year. That comes out to 3.3 miles for every 48 minutes played, which is the length of a regulation NBA game. He ranks 314th out of 611 players to play in the league this year. In other words, Miller’s endurance on the court was average among NBA players this year.
For the first time since Miller’s 2000-01 rookie season with Orlando, Miller played all 82 games.
Miller has always tried to divert the attention from his injuries, which have stacked up over the years. He’s described them as “stuff you can’t control.”
“You play long enough in this league and get as many minutes as you get, you’re going to go through injuries,” Miller told reporters during the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against Boston. “The bottom line is you have to look at the good things the basketball gods have given me.”