Watching the Bulls from the vantage point of retirement and a comfy couch in Sacramento, Calif., there are times Brad Miller will turn to his wife and young daughter and smile.
"Whenever he throws one of those backdoor bounce passes, it makes me proud to see him so happy," Miller said by phone Tuesday.
"He" and "Him" refer to Joakim Noah, a player Miller always predicted would be an All-Star when they were teammates during Miller's second stint with the Bulls from 2008 to 2010. When Noah finally made it this season, he thanked Miller as one of his mentors.
On the surface, the two centers couldn't be more dissimilar. Noah, who hopes to return from missing three games with plantar fasciitis Thursday at Denver, is a gregarious free spirit who grew up between Paris and New York, leans toward the arts and is multilingual. Miller is a Midwestern country boy who has his own hunting show and is fluent in chewing tobacco.
But the two forged a friendship that continued Sunday night in Indianapolis. Miller had traveled to his home state — where his family will move next summer — to be honored with a Wall of Fame ceremony at East Noble (Ind.) High. With the Bulls in town to face the Pacers, Miller and Noah hung at a hotel to share laughs and memories.
"I hope so," Miller said, when asked if he agreed with Noah's mentoring assessment. "He was just a kid when he got there. And his swag, as he likes to put it, was out of control. I tried to help him tone that down because I respected him as a gamer. He wanted to do the right things. He's a little crazy, but he's a good guy who plays for the right reasons."
Noah said Miller's lessons ranged from mastering angles needed for said bounce passes to professionalism. He nicknamed Miller "Duck," a moniker that Miller said has stuck with some of his hometown hunting buddies.
Miller made All-Star games with the Pacers and Kings during his 14-year career, which Noah has referred to jokingly as one of the least athletic of all time. Miller said he watches the Bulls often because he likes their style of play, "making sure Joakim's doing the right things and talking junk to (Kirk Hinrich) when he makes a rare jumper or something."
Noah's All-Star success no surprise to Miller
Chicago Tribune | Feb 6