OAKLAND, Calif. -- Even before Saturday's Schick Rookie Challenge, Andre Miller vowed he would not succumb to the temptations these sorts of affairs present.
"If I get flashy, I might mess up," Miller said. "I'll just keep it simple."It's the way he plays.
The Cleveland Cavaliers point guard from the University of Utah stayed true to his word Saturday, passing up a silver-platter dunk opportunity and opting instead to simply lay the ball in the basket early on in the All-Star Saturday game between Miller's class of rookies and a collection of sophomore NBA stars.
The move didn't exactly endear him to the fans at The Arena in Oakland, a raucous crowd much more interested in watching between-the-legs dribbling from Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Clippers, an impressively fancy elbow pass (that's right, elbow pass) from Sacramento Kings hot dog Jason Williams, or the muscle-driven 21-rebound effort by MVP Elton Brand of Chicago.
Anything but the solid fundamental play of a Rick Majerus-schooled student such as Miller. After Miller failed to at least try to dunk, in fact, the spectators booed him every time he touched the ball.
The layup did, however, provide two of Miller's game-high 18 points in the 92-83 overtime victory for the rookies . . . plus some rather interesting postgame exchanges of banter between Miller and a flock of reporters all wanting to ask the saucy question:
Why didn't you dunk, or at least flash some junk?
"I was a little bit nervous, and I didn't want to mess up, so you kind of pace yourself, and see what these players are going to do," said Miller, whose uniform number was retired by the Utes in a special ceremony on Thursday night. "And that's what I did."
Miller did eventually add something extra his arsenal, throwing up four 3-point attempts -- not his usual shooting range -- and hitting two.
But, still, inquiring minds want to know . . . why didn't you dunk?
"I'm not trying to flash," he said. "I just don't feel like going up there, dunking, and missing."
Which begs the question: Do you wish you had dunked, especially after hearing all the booing?
"You know what? I wish I did," Miller finally admitted. "But, you know, it really doesn't matter about the flash and dunking and all that. I'm just concerned about winning.
"You've got some guys that are flashy, you've got some athletic guys," he added. "Then you have the guys that just like to go out and play basketball. And I'm one of those guys."
That, Miller hopes, is enough to help him some day play in the actual All-Star Game itself.
"I'm going to work hard in the offseason," he said, "just keeping working at it, and, hopefully, the boos will turn to cheers."
But it's no slam dunk they will.