Most athletes can be defined by numbers. Think Kobe Bryant, and the 81-point game in 2006 against the Toronto Raptors comes to mind. Think Stephen Curry, and the three-pointer comes to mind. Think Russell Westbrook, and his triple doubles which fetched him a regular season MVP trophy last season come to mind.
Think Andre Miller, and the three games he missed due to injury in his 17-year career come to mind.
In a league where teams play a minimum of 82 games in regular season — that's as many as three matches a week on an average — ankle injuries are common. So much so, that teams are even putting injury susceptible players on 'minutes restriction' to avoid aggravating an injury.
That's what makes Miller's career stand out. So what's his secret to staying injury free over 17 long NBA years?
"There's no secret. The truth is that even when I was hurt, I continued to fight. I always wanted to play. So I played through niggles. Basketball is not a sport you can get seriously injured in. You may get bumps and bruises here and there, at least that was the case in my time," Miller, who was in Mumbai recently to promote basketball, told Firstpost.
"Most importantly, I knew when to push myself and when to ease off. I went easy on training during the summer. I found a routine very early in my career and I stuck to it throughout my career."
The modern-day NBA star is immensely persnickety when it comes to diet. Miller confesses that he was not very particular about his diet or fitness during his playing days.
“You have got to be organised and committed. Not to mention motivated. I always stuck to my routine and ate right. But I wasn't too particular about food. It was only in the last five years of my career that I took things more seriously in a bid to elongate my career. I cut out heavy foods from the diet during the season. Pastas before games became a routine. I consciously started to avoid meat during the season," Miller said.
Miller was NBA’s ultimate journeyman. In a career which saw him play for nine teams — the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs — he has seen the game evolve.
The league has become a point guard's league — the position where Miller made his name. Rule changes — such as the one curtailing hand-checking in 2004 — have made freedom of movement on the court easier. The pace too has gotten faster.
"The league has also definitely gotten a lot younger. Back in our days, players were mostly grown men with families. Now many rosters have 10-15 guys who are under 24 years of age. So, the NBA has changed for better. It has become faster," he said before he added a quick after-thought: "But the league definitely needs older guys. So that the young guys learn how to respect others."
One thing that has remained the same through it all is Miller’s apprehension of social media — the go-to source of entertainment for the modern athlete.
“Anything you want to know about players these days, you can pull off a computer. I don't want that. I want to keep my private life just that,” he said before admitting, “But my son is trying to teach me the ways of social media.”
So will he soon join Twitter and Instagram?
Published Date: Nov 07, 2017 15:20 PM | Updated Date: Nov 07, 2017 15:20 PM