Catching up: Old friends Andre Miller, Alex Jensen reflect on their time at Utah under coach Rick Majerus
“It’s funny because I feel how I feel and then you see him play. We’re the same age and he’s still productive. It is weird,” Jensen said. “But it’s kind of fun to watch him play because of the person, the player he was. Because of him a lot of us had better careers in basketball. It is fun to see him.”
Added Jensen: “He’s one of the few guys when he’s 50 he’ll be playing somewhere.”
Maybe in the NBA?
“That’s not going to happen. I could, but it’s not going to happen,” Miller said. “I can play like two or three more years. We’ll see what happens.”
If anybody this side of John Stockton and Karl Malone can stretch his career out, it’s Miller. The 6-2 guard, drafted eighth overall by the Cavaliers in 1999, began his NBA stint by playing in 632 straight games. That Ironman streak was only snapped because he got suspended after pushing Blake Griffin.
Change of scenery
Jensen marvels at how many games Miller has played since 1999 (1,163, to be exact) without missing a contest because of an injury.
“He takes care of his body in the right way, and he’s never been a dunker so it does help,” Jensen said, adding that “luck” also plays a factor. “He’s one of the guys who will play basketball year round because he loves it.”
Miller had another long streak of 239 consecutive games played going when he received the first career DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision) with Denver on Jan. 1. That was also the game in which he yelled at Nuggets rookie coach Brian Shaw, leading to a suspension, becoming exiled from the team and ultimately being traded to the Wiz last month.
The change has been good for Miller, who's since admitted, "I kind of lost my cool and was a little bit unprofessional and stepped out of character." Now he's stepping into a role with an improving team that's headed for the playoffs.
“I’ve just got to get used to the environment, get comfortable with the players, the team, the language and everything will work out,” he said. “So far it’s been a great adjustment.”
Quietly and effectively, Miller dished out six assists in Washington’s 104-91 win over the Jazz. His production wasn't flashy like the outings of new teammates John Wall, Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal, but that’s the beauty of his game. Miller is methodical, sneaky, savvy. While flying under the highlight radar, the unnoticed point guard made a half-dozen timely passes that directly led to 12 points and scored a bucket for two more points in the Wizards' 13-point victory.
The 32-29 Wiz, by the way, are now 7-1 since this wily veteran joined the squad. Jensen made sure to point that fact out before Miller helped beat his team. The Jazz staffer also referred to how the Nuggets were 10-5 in games in which Miller played at least 20 minutes this season.
“I’ll tell you what, a lot of teams could use a veteran point guard that can come off the bench,” Jensen said. “I think he’s still underrated today.”
Washington coach Randy Wittman believes Miller will have a positive influence on the 23-year-old Wall and younger Wizards as the team makes its playoff run.
“He’s been great. When you bring guys like that in, they teach a lot,” Wittman said. “Young kids (see) how they handle themselves, how they practice, how they project themselves on and off the floor. He gives us stability with that second unit, has great control of himself and the team and has that understanding already. He’s all ready picked things up fairly quickly and has understanding of what the guys he’s playing (with do) and what he needs to do. So that’s been good.”
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