Me and Andre Miller have had an interesting relationship during his tenure as the Sixers point guard. Three years ago he was the guy replacing Allen Iverson -- safe to say he had some big shoes to fill.
When Miller played his first game in a 76ers uniform, all I was concerned with was losing. Yeah, I wanted the Sixers to lose as many games as possible in order to have enough ping pong balls to land either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. It's not something I'm proud of, but it happened.
So in comes Andre Miller. He's replacing a Sixers legend, and I'm rooting for him to lose games, or be traded for young prospects. Not an easy situation for a slow, soft-spoken, droopy dog-like veteran to win me over, is it?
Three years later Andre Miller has done the unthinkable. He has earned my respect though his leadership, his slow motion speed, his awkward interviews and his toughness. Andre Iguodala is the face of the franchise. Thaddeus Young has the potential to be great. But if I had to nominate a player for MVP of the 2008-2009 Sixers, it'd be Andre Miller.
Sad thing is, number seven might have played his last game in Philadelphia.
Best games: These are the three Andre Miller games that stand out in my mind.
@ San Antonio -- 28 points, 12-14 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover
Even though the Sixers lost, and Miller's bad pass led to the Tony Parker game-winner, Miller was a monster in this game. The Spurs tried defending Miller with everyone -- Parker, Mason, Ginobili, Bowen. Regardless of who was defending him, Miller drilled shot, after shot, after shot, finishing 12-14 from the field.
@ Miami -- 30 points, 11-21 shooting, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 turnovers.
Miller wasn't even supposed to play in this game after suffering a painful right calf strain the game before. Some people questioned whether he was just trying to keep his streak of 500+ consecutive games played alive. Miller answered his critics with a spotless game, and became the Sixers first player to score 30 points all season.
@Orlando -- 30 points, 12-20 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals.
The Sixers offense was as stagnant as it had been all season. Andre Miller sensed it, and took over the first quarter of the game. Eventually his jumpshot stopped falling and he deferred to the other Andre -- who scored 20 second half points -- but the image of Miller abusing Rafer Alston in the first quarter will be forever etched in my memory.
Interestingly enough all of Miller's "best games" were Sixer losses. This means one of two things. Either my definition of "best games" is way off, or Miller's scoring was a lot less important to the Sixers than we thought... or both.
Miller played all 82 games, and played them well. He was perfect floor general for a young team. He scored when necessary. He passed when necessary. He did everything he could for this Sixers team -- and then some. Whether or not we've seen the last of Andre Miller in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, I'll always have the utmost respect for him.