Andre Miller & Nate McMillan argue at practice

Or the Andre Miller saga continues, part 23.

If you have not heard by now, there was an argument/altercation/screamfest/exchange at today’s practice between Blazers coach Nate McMillan and Andre Miller. Reporters were not let into practice yet  but could overhear some of the shouting match. Jason Quick of the Oregonian stated that the “…shouting match lasted nearly 30 minutes” and that “Miller shouted throughout the exchange, and McMillan mostly listened, but at times broke in with shouting of his own.” More from Quick:

“One of the topics discussed was an incident late in Tuesday’s game with Memphis, when Miller told Jerryd Bayless to make his second free throw with 4.3 seconds left and the Blazers trailing by two. The coaching staff and team captain Brandon Roy told Bayless to miss the free throw so the Blazers could attempt to rebound and make a tying basket.”

Brian T. Smith of the Columbian was able to pull out his inner TMZ and deciphered some quotes. The following is from his piece on the argument:

“What the (heck) did I do?” Miller asked McMillan.

Miller then said, “I ain’t going to take this (stuff).”

McMillan soon fired back: “I’m saying you don’t make that call. You don’t.”

And Portland’s coach later added: “You don’t play the way we want to play.”

The aftermath: Andre Miller was not available for comment, Nate was not spilling any beans (he shouldn’t) and Kevin Pritchard was acting as if it was no big deal, even being reported as saying the exchange was ‘normal’. I’m sure people will point to Nate and say he should say something. I disagree. It seems as if it was a team discussion and as open as this team is, there needs to be a line where things stay within the team. Blazer fans are an information hungry bunch, preying on details (can’t blame me) but I applaud Nate for keeping this in-house. Pritchard made a lot of sense with some of the quotes attributed to him. There could be an argument made that maybe he’s playing cleanup or trying to avoid a situation where he looks silly for bringing Miller here in the first place. I don’t see KP as the type to do that though.

The Blazer blogosophere has been all over this story this afternoon. To the point where I felt the need to add my two cents into this. This has been blown out of proportion. First off, it just seems like Miller was venting and there is nothing wrong with that. Like I said during Re-Thoughts this week, sometimes it feels as if Miller is being professional and may be holding his true opinions back. If that is true than eventually there is going to be a breaking point where everything comes off your chest eventually. And honestly, I’m happier that Miller vented directly to Nate in an open team forum than to a reporter ala that Yahoo story from early in the season. I don’t see this as being that huge of a deal. Coaches and players are not always supposed to see eye to eye. Especially when you have two strong personalities like Miller and McMillan, there is going to be a clash. Obviously the Blazers have a policy where players can speak their mind. Today, Andre Miller did. I’m not seeing this as Andre Miller sealing his fate here in Portland, I just see it as a discussion between player and coach trying to get back on the same page.

Honestly, it’s a bit of a shame this is being portrayed as such a big deal. There’s this sinking feeling that there is so much more to the story than we may ever know. It’s confusing because Nate’s been quoting as saying he wanted Andre Miller here and Andre Miller saying how much he wanted to be here. I think the lack of concrete details is leading to speculation, and that’s only human nature. Obviously any sort of discussion that can be qualified as ‘heated’ by reporters is news, but it just seems like this is bigger than it should be. The only reason this is a story is because of how iffy Miller has been this year. Not on the court, but off of it. There have always been lingering questions about Miller all year and it’s truthfully been annoying. I really wish he had not given that interview a few days ago where he still said how ‘lost’ he was and what not because whether he meant to or not, the statements he’s made this year opened the door for this to be a bigger story than it should be. The timing of the story isn’t great because Miller truly has been playing some of his best basketball of the season as of late. He’s been a major reason why the Blazers have won 8 of their last 12. The Miller we’ve seen as of late is the guy we expected from the start of the season. I still feel that he has benefited the most out of anyone from all of the injuries because we’ve seen him just go out and play. Things will get mighty interesting when Steve Blake returns to the lineup I’ll tell you that much.

COUP UPDATE
: SJ and I were writing the same post at the same time, so I’ll just piggyback on his with my own thoughts.

My take from not having been there is I doubt it changes much of anything. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Andre Miller probably hasn’t been all too happy playing 28 minutes per game and sitting out many fourth quarters, not to mention being sat often in favor of an inferior player. Nobody who has had Miller’s career would be happy with that. Strike one.

From Nate’s perspective, we know he was reluctant to start Miller and play him next to Brandon Roy, and yet pressure came from all angles to make the switch. Of course, Nate had said for a while now that he’s wanted to add veterans to this team, only the veteran he got wasn’t exactly the type of player or personality he had in mind — that was likely Juwan Howard. And when it seems like a player is purposefully contradicting you on the court with a play that could have meant the difference between winning and losing, you’d be a little irked. Strike two.

Strike three is just all the other frustrations that come with injuries and the realization you are playing or coaching in a lost season for a team both parties expected to compete for the Western Conference.

So before everyone gets too Millergate on this, it’s pertinent to ask what the big problem is with them having an argument. It demonstrates a disconnect between player and coach, yes, but not of team rules or public conduct or, thank the basketball gods, legal issues. They were arguing about strategy and have probably argued at other times about minutes. Those are things that have to do with winning basketball games.

It may come to pass that Miller truly can’t fit in with this team, but there’s no need to condemn anyone for that. In the meantime, two people have their own opinions in a difficult situation and the only difference is one of them is a veteran coach on the floor and the other is the coach, period. You know who is going to win that battle.

Topics: Andre Miller, Andre Miller Argument, Andre Miller Nate Mcmillan, Nate McMillan, Portland Trail Blazers

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  • Igot D. Jones

    I hope it all works out, too. But, I’ve got to say, as much as I love having Miller on the floor, his disdain for fandom is making it hard for me to like him. His biggest problem, probably, is that Portland fans are rabid. They want Blazers 24/7. Andre would, it seems, prefer to put in his three hours of being on camera and then hurry back to his private world. I understand that, I’d be the same way, were I in his position. But, I’m not in his position. I, like many Blazer fans, am schlepping my way through life, working paycheck-to-paycheck. To see someone as seemingly unappreciative of what he’s got as Andre, it makes me wish he could go spend a day as a furniture mover, or maybe a concrete worker, or a waitress, whatever. Let him live on the verge of homelessness like many of those workers, for a month or two. Humility…that’s the thing I think he could use a dose of. Obviously, pro athletes put in a lot of time apart from game day. But nothing they do is remotely as difficult as putting in an 18-hour day, professionally moving someone’s household. (That’s a solid 16 hours of marching from house-to-truck then truck-to-house. The piano goes up in the bonus room? No problem! Gotta love those stairs!) Then, at the end of that 18 hours, it’s a good day when you walk away with, maybe, $250. Then repeat that, day-after-day. When I think of that, and then think of how Andre seemingly feels interviews are an imposition, or asking above and beyond, it just irks me to no end. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him smiling, when off of the court. (Does he smile when he sees his bank account balance? Or, does he see his balance and think, “I got cheated, this isn’t a starter’s bank balance.”) Everything seems bothersome to him. And to top it off, I feel that if he averaged 42 minutes per game, he’d be asking why he wasn’t getting 43 minutes. This team is waaay too deep for him to expect to get all of the minutes. Deal with it, Andre, I say. And, one more thing, Andre, when you’re standing in front of a team camera that is broadcasting your every word to all the fans out in Blazerland, you really should reconsider loudly complaining about having to stand in front of said camera to say hello to your new team’s attentive fans. Or maybe you thought the fans didn’t hear you complain because you thought your 30-second, close-up crotch shot muffled the sound? The season hadn’t even started and Andre had already left a bad impression on me. I keep hoping I’ll get over that, but it seems like he keeps giving me reasons not to. All that being said, I wouldn’t be all that disappointed if he hung around…he’s a great player. He just has to learn that it isn’t all about him.

  • Igot D. Jones

    Oops, I guess I should have tried breaking that big block into a few paragraphs. Sorry ’bout that…

  • Sizzle

    I think Andre Miller didn’t fit into Brandon’s little group. Brandon likes to be the All-Star and sees Miller as a threat taking away his shine. (Sad)..These are grown men. Let the damn guy have some stardom he’s goddamn 33yrs old and SHOULD and make some decisions. If they didn’t want that they shouldn’t of drafted him. He probably feels like an outcast which is typical in any team with the all star dissing the potential threat. And coach McMillian follows what ever the all star Brandon Roy say’s to do because the team follows Brandon it’s what their used to. And the coach and Brandon are tight. Brandon sucks up more. This is just so typical in any teams high school to college or whatever. I say let the guy in. People need to stop dissin him especially on those hoop talk shows. It’s sad the guy is giving it his all, but people bow down to the king. Not saying I don’t love love Brandon Roy,,,but he needs to share a little bit and be more mature. And hate to say it Brandon Roy but Andre has your hottness as well. Go Forth Andre! Ther are fans that love YOU too!!! Stay strong I can only imagine what your going through with all those other ego’s.