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Brad Miller still pushing as time winds down

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For more sports commentary, follow Reggie Hayes on Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1

Retirement looms for former Purdue center

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 7:45 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Brad Miller says the reason for the impending end of his NBA odyssey is a simple one.

“Father Time kicks your butt eventually,” Miller said.

Miller, 36, says this with his usual dry delivery, peppered with a mischievous, playful smirk he's carried with him for 14 seasons in the NBA.

Yeah, Father Time has taken his shots. Miller's knees aren't so limber anymore. The locker room is full of kids, little more than half his age. The next part of his life – full-time husband, dad and TV hunting show host – is only a couple weeks away.

But Miller's unedited personality remains intact. As he begins to look back on his NBA career, he can't help but feel he kicked a little butt before Father Time showed up.

“You go through stadiums for the last time and it's kind of weird, but you enjoy it,” Miller said. “Fourteen years of having fun playing basketball, that's not bad at all.”

Miller the Kendallville native who played at Purdue, with the Indiana Pacers and a handful of other teams, made his last basketball appearance in his home state Monday night. He played for the Minnesota Timberwolves at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He entered the game in the first quarter, blocked a shot, hit a three pointer and ran the court with surprising speed.

The Pacers won 111-88 and Miller finished with five points, three rebounds, two assists and a block.

Miller's longevity has been remarkable for an undrafted player who had to pay dues overseas after coming out of Purdue. He's been an NBA All-Star (with the Pacers), he's played with championship contenders, particularly with Sacramento, and he's put up the type of workmanlike numbers reflective of his style.

He's averaged 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds a game over his career. No, they're not Hall of Fame numbers. But they're solid, reflective of a 7-foot center unafraid to grind, undeterred by those who judged him by what he couldn't do. He averaged a double double (14.3 points, 10.3 rebounds) for the Kings in 2004, and nearly matched that two other times.

Miller remembers the No.1 pick the year he was undrafted (Michael Olowokandi) and has never forgotten that Larry Brown promised to draft him and didn't.

Those slights were part of a scorecard that pushed him through stops in Charlotte, Chicago (twice), Indiana, Sacramento, Houston and finally Minnesota.

“I've got a lot of checklists, a lot of motivation for all those years,” Miller said. “My whole life it's been ‘keep working and force them to play you.' Hopefully, the people I've played against say ‘that son of a (expletive) played hard.' ”

Returning to Indiana on Monday allowed Miller's family and friends to come down, enjoy the party suite, and cheer him on in person one more time. “There was a whole crew of cars heading down (I-)69 today.”

Indiana has a special place in his heart, he said. After all, if Reggie Miller hadn't flown him to Las Vegas one time, Brad wouldn't have met his wife. Brad and his wife, Abby, who live in Sacramento, have a five-year-old daughter, Anniston.

Unlike some aging athletes, Miller has a plan for his post-playing career. He has been working on a television show, Country Boys Outdoors, which has been airing on The Sportsman Channel. He joked that he was out hunting deer during the lockout this season instead of dealing with Media Day.

Retirement doesn't bother Miller. He's managed his substantial income well, the importance of sound financial decisions honed during his childhood when money was scarce. He continues his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and plans to expand his yearly golf tournament this year.

“People always talk about high divorce rates (after retirement), but I'm going to be happy to be home with my wife,” he said. “I still have the hunting show. Instead of staying at the JW Marriott, I'll be in a tent out in the middle of nowhere with a gun for protection in case there's a bear in camp.”

Miller ranks Sacramento as his favorite NBA locale, with Indiana and Chicago in a tie for second. He relished his last visit to Indy, just as he has the other former hometowns along the way. He started in his last game at Sacramento.

The years on the knees have not been kind. He can still play in spurts, and maybe could grind out another year, but says he's reached the end.

“I worked my butt off to be able to play,” Miller said. “Not to be able to play is tough. But my daughter starts kindergarten this year. Family life takes over.”

Family life and hunting trips will fill Miller's schedule after this season. Father Time has had his say, but Miller time is just around the corner.