MIKE MILLER TIME
Team: Miami Heat
College: University of Florida
Years Pro: 10
Points Average: 13.7
Rebounds Average: 5.1
3-Point Percentage: 40%
Nowadays, basketball might be considered a gentle game, but it wasn’t always that way. Back in the dark ages of the sport, a cage was erected around the court to keep the fans from beating on the players or tossing objects at them. And the interaction between the players wasn’t much more civil, with plenty of punches and elbows exchanged. Despite its violent past, MMA nut and Miami Heat guard Mike Miller still isn’t interested in climbing into today’s modern day cage, unless it’s for conditioning.
“If I could say anything less than zero percent chance, I would say that,” Miller jokes, when asked if he’d ever participate in an MMA match. “I’m smart enough to know that I like my face the way it is. It doesn’t look that great, but it still looks a lot better than it would after sparring with one of those guys.”
But that hasn’t stopped the former NBA Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year award winner from embracing mixed martial arts with open arms. A fan of the sport since “it was a little less mainstream,” Miller recently made the jump from fan to active participant in the sport after becoming friends with Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, and Aaron Simpson.
“One of my friends starting doing some business stuff for them,” Miller says. “We got around each other, and I got interested in what they were doing and seeing how they train. Obviously, as a professional athlete myself, just observing their training techniques—not necessarily the punching and the wrestling, but more of their conditioning—I was in awe of it.”
What started out as a friendship forged through mutual respect has blossomed into a business, as the three fighters and the three point bomber have opened Power MMA and Fitness in Gilbert, Arizona, which caters to individuals looking for a normal workout, MMA training, or basketball practice.
“It gives a bunch of people an opportunity to work out in the same gym as athletes,” says Miller. If you hit the gym during the NBA’s off season, there’s a good chance you’ll see Mike Miller going through some hardcore MMA cardio—just don’t look for him to trade in his high-tops for a rash guard anytime soon.