The ESPN First Take crew hosted NBA veteran Mike Miller, who won two rings as a role player on LeBron and The Big Three’s back-to-back South Beach turnups in 2012 and 2013. The conversation began with an irrational, overbearing and typically forced narrative about LeBron catching Michael Jordan for GOAT.
Then Stephen A. Smith and Miller disparaged Kevin Durant's power move to Golden State and praised the difficulty of LeBron's Miami game-changer. Eventually, Miller was asked what’s it’s like to play with LeBron as if he had the answers to the mystery of the Holy Grail.
Miller, an NBA Rookie of the Year in 2001 with the Orlando Magic, says any player would be foolish not to capitalize on an opportunity to play with LeBron. It’s not just because he is an all-world, legendary NBA figure, but because his star presence and marketability attracts a next level celebrity attention and tempts other elite players to come ball with him
Miller and James have a friendship that goes back to 2000 when Miller was drafted fifth overall by Orlando. Miller attended a few of James' games and hit it off with the future No. 1 overall pick, who was also down with T-Mac.
The bond grew stronger when they played together on Team USA during the qualifying tournament for the 2008 Olympics, where James later teamed with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to claim a gold medal in Beijing. Who knew those Games were fertile breeding grounds for the NBA's first Super Team.
“I’ve been fortunate enough now to play 17 seasons," Miller said on First Take. "At that time it was like season 9 or 10. I had been to the playoffs almost every year and never made it past the first round. When you grow up playing basketball or doing anything for that matter, you want to know what the peak is like. How you’ll perform. So when I went into free agency I was looking for a winning team. I had offers to go to other places and take significantly way more money ...The thing is I wanted to see was what I would do and how I would perform in the biggest moments.
That's why going to play with guys like LeBron or playing in Golden State, intrigues guys in our situation. (Winning championships is not just the desire) of the top tier guys like KD. We want to do the same thing."
The veteran sharp-shooter's answer is exactly why the NBA has two Super Teams dominating the NBA Playoffs. Players have this sense of entitlement to play for a championship. In this world of obsession with worldly things, trophies and rings, players know that they can become forgotten in the annals of NBA lore if they don’t win one championship and play with an iconic figure.
"That's what makes LeBron special," Miller gushed. "Everyone wants to play with him because you have a chance to be on that stage. You have a chance to play 41 games on national television. You have a chance to be in the NBA Finals every year. Those things are intriguing. It's just one of those things.“