Ailene Voisin: Miller may be big deal for USA
But Miller, 27, who helped lead the U.S. to a surprising bronze-medal finish that summer, is no longer unheralded, nor his contributions forgotten. According to several members of the USAB selection committee, the one-time All-Star is among only a handful of American frontcourt candidates being considered for one of three vacancies on the 2004 Olympic team.
"Brad is a really good player," USAB selection committee chair Stu Jackson said, "and let's face it, we're short on 'bigs.' We should know something around the All-Star break."
While Vince Carter is expected to receive an invitation based on his performance at last summer's Olympic-qualifying Tournament of the Americas, the situation -- and exact number of vacancies -- remains fluid and complicated for several reasons: (1) Kobe Bryant's pending trial on rape charges; (2) Kevin Garnett's reluctance to commit to a second consecutive Olympic appearance; and (3) an inordinate number of injuries to current team members and potential candidates, among them Chris Webber.
Webber has contacted USAB officials and expressed a strong desire to play in Athens, but his lengthy rehabilitation from serious knee surgery makes his selection increasingly unlikely.
He is an obvious choice for another reason: An excellent passer and shooter, his style is particularly suited to an international game that emphasizes spacing, ball/body movement and the perimeter shot, and features an inordinate number of 7-footers who face the basket and aren't limited to overpowering opponents down low.
"Brad plays like a Serb," New Jersey Nets president and longtime USAB executive Rod Thorn said, with a laugh, "and he's even better now that he plays with the master. Vlade (Divac) is a clinic. He uses people as foils. It's almost like he's saying, 'Here, stand there, while I whip another ball past your earlobe.'
"Those two guys (Divac and Miller) really make the Kings something special. Can you imagine them playing against each other next summer in that (pre-Olympic) exhibition in Belgrade?"