Mike Miller has been letting the basketball fly from long-range in the NBA since the turn of the century. After entering the NBA by way of the fifth overall pick in the 2000 Draft, Miller went on to win the Rookie of the Year for the Orlando Magic. He would also be named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2006, and six seasons after that he won his first of two NBA championships alongside LeBron James with the Miami Heat.
But while the uniform has changed seven times for the current member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, his deadly approach from three-point territory has remained not only constant, but also a standard of consistency among his peers. Heading into the Cavaliers’ February 20 matchup with the Washington Wizards, Miller has connected on 1,558 of the 3,821 three-point field goals he’s attempted during his professional career. His let-it-fly mentality and approach from distance has helped him shoot over 40 percent from beyond the arc along the way, and also inspired the launch of his new brand, LET IT FLY.
In order to translate his vision for LET IT FLY into a viable business, Miller tapped former Nike executive and Jordan Brand architect Erin Patton to serve as CEO for the brand. Patton has established a proven track record for creating paradigm shifts, including the AND 1 Mixtape Tour and Stephon Marbury’s Starbury brand.
“Mike is an exceptional partner and gives the brand a level of authenticity and iconic inspiration that is unrivaled and paramount to our success,” Patton told SLAM. “We are feeding off of his creativity and constant push for innovation as an elite athlete and one of the best marksman to ever play the game to build a world class performance product with a specialized focus on shooters. He is a modern day Phil Knight. Much the same as Nike was inspired by and for runners, our brand DNA is rooted within basketball culture and the timeless craft of shooting which is inextricably linked to the sport itself.”
Miller’s long-time friend, current teammate, and expert marksman in his own right, James Jones aka Champ, joined the LET IT FLY team this week for an exclusive workout that SLAM was on hand for. Jones helped Miller demonstrate an innovative shooting sleeve designed to help inspire young athletes to push further by changing colors during a workout as an indication of progress.
“The sleeve feels natural as a shooter,” Jones said. “The most important thing for a shooter is a feel. You want to have a feel for the ball. You want to have a rhythm, a feel for the gym, for the environment. So everything you do is a feel. Mentally, when you’re tight, when you’re locked in, when you’re precise.
“Those are the words that come to mind when you talk about being a distance shooter, being a great shooter. Having control, pinpoint accuracy. The sleeve allows me to do that because it keeps me tight, it keeps everything in line. More importantly, like I said, it’s just a feel. You feel good, you shoot good.”
The feel that truly great shooters like Jones and Miller are referring to is something that requires unavoidable work, dedication and passion. It’s also something that is earned throughout countless hours in the gym, hoisting one shot after another until achieving that ultimate feel and confidence.
“I’ve been around the game of basketball for a long time,” Miller said. “And I think it’s important to look back at the things you did to get to where you are. I’ve played 14 years in the NBA and now have kids that are going through the same process I did to get here. What can I do to help them? And I think Champ said it best, for kids you’re pushing yourself internally.
“Our hashtag is #earnyourcolors and this is what we’re doing. You want to see a direct result of what you did, and this shows it to them by the color indicators on the sleeve. For a kid, you challenge yourself to earn your colors every day. It kind of goes back on what we did as kids growing up, and how we got to be the shooters we are. And that’s by putting the time in. So now you’re kind of competing against us. We know what it takes to get there, and if you live by this and go through it, you will become the best shooter you could possibly be.”
There isn’t a finite number on this, obviously, but the LET IT FLY insignia on the shooting sleeve is designed to turn from white to another color after approximately 100 shots. Then, after around 200, it will change again, and so on from there.
“It pushes you in everything you do to become an elite athlete and an elite shooter,” Jones added with respect to the shooting sleeve technology. “It’s all about earning your stripes. Paying your dues. This is a visual that reminds you when you’re tired, when you don’t want to take those last 50 jump shots. You can get to the next color. So it’s always an internal challenge that you have and you face. This is just another tool to push yourself beyond your natural limits.”
As a professional athlete, Miller has continued to push himself beyond the natural limits or box that some might suggest an NBA player belongs. Launching a revolutionary basketball brand that will eventually change the way shooting is taught and practiced being the latest example.
“For me, LET IT FLY has stuck with me as a person because of the way we built it,” Miller said. “To be able to turn it into something now that can help kids; reward them, show them progress, and do things we want to do is a unique situation that I’ve been blessed with. And we’re just gonna let it fly.”
Mike Miller will be live-tweeting during the NBA Three-Point Contest tonight from the newly launched @LETITFLYBRAND Twitter account. He’ll be jumping on at about the time that Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, Kyrie Irving and company take the floor for the most highly anticipated three-point contest of all time tonight in New York. Mike will be reacting to the three-point performances and taking all of your shooting questions throughout the night. Be sure to connect with LET IT FLY on IG too for more in the months ahead.