SAN ANTONIO — He is the one-shoed ghost hanging over the NBA Finals, the fan favorite who isn't available this time to help change the tenor of the series. But Mike Miller, who was amnestied in the offseason after winning two championships with Miami, will still let his fandom fly.
"I've had that question asked about a thousand times in the last two weeks," Miller told Bleacher Report by phone Thursday. "I'll definitely watch them. The list of teams that have three-peated is so small. I would love to see them do it."
Miller, who played all 82 games for the Memphis Grizzlies after dealing with an endless spate of injuries with the Heat, watched the entire Eastern Conference Finals from home. And he drove his wife Jennifer and kids a little crazy because he spent most of the games coaching.
"The funny thing about it, is when you've been through it, you know exactly what's going on," Miller said. "It's a completely different scope. I guess it was as fun to watch a series as possible, when you're not playing in it. During every game, I could tell when when Miami was going to take control, because I know those guys so well. I know when they are turning it on, I know when they're into it."
And so, whom does he like in the rematch against the Spurs?
"I've got Miami," Miller said. "I really do."
He does in part because he believes LeBron James is "scary" but mostly because of "the efficiency of D-Wade. When he is playing efficiently like he is right now, that makes them so difficult to beat."
And he believes that Miami's role players will make shots when necessary.
Still, it's been clear all season how much the Heat fans and players still miss Miller, who averaged 21.8 minutes and made 11 of 18 three-pointers in the 2013 Finals. The happiest the Heat looked all regular season was when Miller returned with the Grizzlies in March. And last month, James revealed to Bleacher Report that Erik Spoelstra had asked him to take more of a leadership role, largely because the team would be torn up about Miller's departure.
"People don't understand how instrumental Mike Miller was to our team...Yeah, he was just that stable guy. I mean, Mike, everything that he went through, both injuries and being in and out of the lineups, and not one day did he ever come to work with an 'I don't want to be here' attitude. Like never. And we all respected that. And for a guy like that who's done so much in his career, to come in with that mindset every day, we all saw that."
Miller's reaction to hearing that?
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Miller said. "When I talk to the kids, to everybody, I tell them, you can have an impact on a team, and the goals of a team, whether you make a shot or not. That's the value of having teams together for a long time, similar to the Spurs. And it was so much fun being part of that team, that made that part of the job easy. The team is as unique as any team you'll ever see, and how they get along, and how well all the pieces fit there. That's a tribute to the stars, and the way they make you feel. And that's why veterans are so important in this league."
Miller didn't stop there.
"That's what makes this team, I'm telling you, so amazing," Miller said. "Not just because they are winning championships. Everyone knows that part. But [the bond between teammates is] the reason they can be successful, other than having stars. I feel like, obviously, it's a humbling experience when they say those things about me, and they acted that way when I came back, but I think it would have been that way for anyone."
And he already has plans to see them again soon. Miller is a free agent this offseason, but even if he wanted to, he couldn't return to the Heat—under amnesty rules—until his original contract expires after next season. But if this series goes six games, Miller is planning a Miami trip.
He wants to watch with his kids from the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd, "even though I'll get asked this question again: 'Why aren't you playing for the Heat anymore, Dad?'" Miller said, laughing. "I had to tell them it was trash day, it was Tuesday. They had to take out the trash."
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