When the Miami Heat completed their coup in the summer of 2010 by landing LeBron James and Chris Bosh along with retaining Dwyane Wade, people seldom noticed the next salvo of signings that followed.
Following the ‘Big 3’ signings were the retaining of Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony, and then came the signing of Mike Miller.
Miller’s tenure in Miami hasn’t been what the team, the fans, and he himself have expected when he chose to sign with the Heat. Now with a title to defend this upcoming season Miller hopes to have a breakout year.
Injuries have plagued Miller for much of his time in Miami. Problems with his thumbs and later his back have limited Miller’s role of a three-point threat. Miller did make up for that with his tenacity and rebounding when he was on the floor. Unfortunately for Heat fans, that wasn’t what they wanted to see from Miller, which has made questions regarding Miller’s status with the Heat easy to come by.
When the 2011 NBA lockout ended there was a mad dash to sign free agents. Miami’s signing of Shane Battier quickly raised speculation that Miller would be waived via the amnesty clause. The speculation continued even as the Heat stated that Miller was not going anywhere. As Miller’s role eroded due to his back problems when the season rolled on into the playoffs, few thought that Miller had little if anything to give the Heat.
Then Game 5 of the NBA Finals happened.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra put Miller in the game just to test if he was able to play. Miller, in turn, played the game of his career as he helped Miami win the NBA Championship over the Oklahoma City Thunder on their home court at American Airlines Arena. He finished the game with 25 points and five rebounds. He also made seven out of eight three-point shots, almost tying the NBA Finals record set by his now-teammate Ray Allen.
There was talk even — as the Heat were celebrating with champagne showers — that Miller should consider retiring after the game. It would a perfect way to end a career to go out on top. Miller even acknowledged the possibility when he talked to the press after the game, saying that the decision would be made after seeing his doctors.
The way Miller played, despite being in obvious pain, was not lost on anyone. It was even used by Dan LeBatard of The Miami Herald in one of his radio show ‘rants’ on AM 790 WAXI when he told the Thunder that Miller “broke your back with a broken back…his back is broken!”
Now after preparing to launch his Let It Fly energy drink and being told he didn’t need back surgery, Miller is ready to go into Heat training camp in condition that he hasn’t reported in the last two seasons. That condition being healthy.
It will be interesting to see how Miller fights to be in the regular rotation. With the addition of Allen and Rashard Lewis to the roster, there are more perimeter threats available for the Heat, and for Miller, more competition.
Judging from his Heat tenure though, Miller likes it best when people think he’s down for the count.