What About Dre?
Appreciate Andre Miller’s game, because there aren’t a lot of players like him.
by Tracy Weissenberg
Andre Miller is one of the more private guys in the league, but every now and then he’ll allow a glimpse into what drives him. In a December game against the Clippers, Miller delivered a blow to Blake Griffin after the rookie had shoved him on several earlier possessions. Miller was handed a one-game suspension that ended his iron man streak of 632 consecutive games. In his next tilt back, Miller walked over to the broadcasting crew to give an example of a parallel play in which no suspension was handed down. I remember, at that point, realizing how much it meant to him.
Throughout his career, Miller has been one of the more underappreciated players in the league. The transition to Portland last season should have been smooth, but instead, his role was questioned and he was shortly relegated to coming off the bench. Despite injuries that have devastated the squad, Portland has continued to stay competitive and grind out wins. In some ways, the team has taken on the identity of their quiet floor leader. The young team has learned that in the NBA, respect is something you need to demand. Not by words, by wins. And Miller has put them in the position to do so.
SLAM: You are currently third active and 15th all-time in assists. Has that accomplishment sunk in or do you think you’ll need to reflect on it when you’re finished playing?
Andre Miller: I’ll think about it when my career is over.
SLAM: I know it was an adjustment with the Blazers at first. Can you describe initially coming to Portland compared to where you are at now?
AM: The main thing is just trying to be a leader and just come out and work hard every day in practice. Try to lead by example rather than running my mouth too much but the main thing is just setting an example for younger guys and just going out and being a leader.
SLAM: You’ve done that consistently during your career without a great deal of spotlight. Do you feel like you don’t receive enough recognition for it?
AM: I don’t care; you know at this point in my career, I don’t really care. I think I got about four good years in me if I stay healthy. The main thing is just the teams that I’m on, I want to continue to help guys get better, continue to make myself better.
SLAM: How do you help your teammates improve?
AM: Just on the court, putting guys in the right position to make plays, to score. You know everybody wants to score in this league so when guys know that they have a guy on the court that’s gonna pass them the ball, then they’ll work hard to get it.
SLAM: You don’t talk a lot about your own life to the media. Was it a conscious decision when you entered the League to separate your personal life from yourself as a basketball player?
AM: Yeah, I mean if I’m not getting any recognition on the court, why would I want people in my business off the court? This league is pretty much, you know they do the same stories over and over again and I just try to keep a level of privacy or my life separate from basketball.
SLAM: You mentioned that you felt LaMarcus Aldridge should be an All-Star. Have you ever felt that way about yourself during your career?
AM: Yeah, but I mean this is a league that makes its money off of popularity. It’s an entertainment business and I mean, he definitely proved that he should’ve been on the All-Star team. I made my comments, and everybody knew too. So just the business of it, you know the young and up-and-comer players, they’re going to make money for this league a long time, you just fall in where you’re at and that’s the business.
SLAM: I know you were very upset about your consecutive game streak ending this season, you even showed a similar play to the television crew. Can you talk about that?
AM: Just more a respect thing. I felt that I’ve worked hard unto to this point and there wasn’t any consideration taken before the suspension was handed out. I have to live with that. I made a play—it wasn’t a good play.
SLAM: It was a vet play…
AM: Yeah, it was a veteran play. That’s the nature of the business, times have changed and you just have to go with the flow.
SLAM: Do you see your own identity in this Portland team?
AM: I just try to bring a level of toughness from my position whether it’s rebounding, blocking out a big man…sometimes it rubs off on the younger guys, so if I continue to do those things then everything will work out.
SLAM: You said you have about four good years left. What is the goal for the remainder of your career? To go after a championship?
AM: That’s the goal with any player. There’s 30 teams in this league and it’s only one winner when it’s said and done. So you just gotta get out there and make the most of what you’re doing when you get out there and play, so I’m gonna just continue to do that.
SLAM: Do you ever think about your legacy, how you want to be remembered as a basketball player?
AM: I want to be remembered as a guy that came to work every day, never took nights off. Committed to team basketball, playing basketball the right way—the way I was taught. Definitely being a point guard that’s up there as far as making guys better and making the teams better. If I can do that, then I’ve done a good job with my career.
SLAM: Do you see a lot of players like yourself in the League these days?
AM: Yeah, it’s a lot of things that goes unnoticed with a lot of players. I’m sure it’s a lot of blue collar workers in this league that don’t get the exposure that they should and that continue to go out there and work hard but they never get credit for it. So I mean, I’m not a spokesperson for that but you know, I just continue to try to do my job and maybe those guys will get recognition one day too.
SLAM: I saw you taking pictures during All-Star weekend. You ever think about joining the media?
AM: No, no. That was just mainly for family and friends who got a chance to hang out and be at home.
SLAM: But you don’t think you’ll ever join the media?
AM: No never.
SLAM: It would be unexpected.
AM: Uh, it’s not that serious for me…(laughs). That’s a good question though.