A farewell to Dre

Andre Miller has always been polarizing in his own unique way, he’s dichotomy personified. His favorable perception around the league, fed by a grouchy likability, stood in stark contrast to Nuggets fans constant exasperation with the veteran. To the layman, Miller is a fun, lob-throwing anecdote. To the basketball junkie he’s the embodiment of “old man” game, lauded for an evergreen post game imbued with doctoral ingenuity and a grumpy personality that old age tends to make endearing. But to the Nuggets fan, Dre was the point guard who perpetually took the ball out of Ty Lawson’s hands, never gave a damn on defense, and highjacked the offense for possessions on end whenever he felt like it. It didn’t help that the amount of slack on George Karl’s leash around him could’ve tied a bow around the globe.

There were legitimate reasons why so many find Miller’s game so enthralling, his approach to playing point guard is so unique. He’s incredibly beguiling on offense when he wants to be, launching half court lobs that come only at the most inopportune times for the defense. He alone seemed to be able to salvage JaVale McGee’s career, weaponizing his freakish athleticism with alley-oops in a way no other player or coach could replicate. He could probe the paint off a pick with all the speed and grace of an upended tortoise and yet, no matter who was standing in his way, he’d would always find a path to the rim. 

Miller’s style of play lends itself to the “crafty veteran” label that fits in well with many of his incumbent talents, but also assigns him qualities that don’t always apply to him. His leadership style, in the rare case it would make an appearance, would often replace soothing platitudes with jarring pragmatism. In the midsts of Denver’s historic (for the franchise) run last regular season, Miller couldn’t help but put a wet blanket on the idea that the Nuggets were a dark horse contender. In typical Andre Miller fashion the prediction was unwanted, some might even say unwarranted, but eventual turned out to be right.

His defense, termed as middling by most (and, going off the way he sometimes subbed him in on defensive possessions, elite by George Karl), tended to be significantly worse than what was typically purported. He was lazy on the ball and didn’t really seem to exist in our plane of existence off it. Offensively, he’d tend to use his “veteran savvy” to reign in a team born to run so he could dribble out the shot clock in a leisurely manner. He’d “craftily” sulk when the ball wasn’t in his hands and stand in a corner no one bothered to guard. 

But it was those imperfections, the ones that so infuriated Denver’s fan base, that made Miller so likable to those without that much at stake. In a game that rewarded demigod-level athleticism and strength, Miller succeeded – and failed- so humanly. His 52-point performance against Dallas may as well been the culminating achievement of mankind.

While we as of yet lack the specific details behind Miller’s fight with Shaw, it’s not hard to deconstruct what went down. Miller abhors mediocrity almost as much as he dislikes having his control usurped and both came to a head after an unceremonious benching in the midsts of a horrendous loss to the awful Sixers. Shaw’s yearning to implement a certain amount of control over the team is typical of first-time head coaches, but it remains an approach that seemed inevitably destined to clash with a deep-rooted veteran like Andre. Why would Miller cling to what he always viewed as a sinking ship when he could no longer even respect its captain?

Ultimately that’s what I’ll remember from Andre Miller’s time in Denver, his impertinence towards everything: towards his coach, towards his predefined role as “veteran leader”, towards the guy who thinks he has a chance to guard him in the post, towards hitting a game winner in the playoffs, towards playing second fiddle to anyone, towards a singular defining narrative, towards age itself. Miller was so polarizing because, while his game was so eminently relatable, he himself was not. Just like his ability to conjure up layups off of two dribbles and a creaky spin-move, Miller has always been a mystery. And now he’s someone else’s enigma to solve.

Farewell, Dre.


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David Walker

Freshman at FSU. Love the Nuggets, the beach, and the game that involves a ball that occasionally goes into the hoop.
  • Richard Pesicka

    I’ll remember Dre as a player who was never intimidated. He would take the ball to the hole no matter who was guarding him. His lobs will never be replaced by another guard on the Nuggets team. He had heart and disire. It was wasted on the Nuggets team of now with the now coach we have. Keep the good memories fresh Dre and hold your head high. You deserve it. Thank you for the time you spent in Denver.

    • ryanvdonk

      shortest power forward in the NBA…even if the man he was guarding was behind the arc.

    • Cory

      Dre for us was eh. HOFer maybe. Not hating just don’t like his game. And Shaw didn’t do anything.Miller at 36 needs to accept his role.

  • heykyleinsf

    Addition by subtraction.
    He’s a jackass.

  • ben ward

    I spend most my time fantasizing that it is still the beginning of the 2013 offseason. Gallo is done recovering his ACL in a rehab effort of miraculous proportions. Andre Iggy says he’s fallen in love with the mountains and wants to grow old and die in Denver. JaVale really can and is developing his fundamentals and is becoming the interior presence that makes would-be penetrators look like Don Quixote. Kenneth is not flatlined on his learning curve trajectory, and Masai Ujiri is planting severed horse heads underneath sheets, or whatever he does, to make some absurdly improbable trade, maybe getting Afflalo back and our backcourt defense is respected across the league. We have a 57 win team that is improving and coming strong into next season under the reigns of a hall of fame coach.

    (Read that to this music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0LcxXdO10U please.)

    Writers, I think it would be sensible to turn this site into a fan fiction forum. The actuality of the things I read here only brings the disappointment of realization.

  • Native Nugget

    Nice write up. Dre was a good player on many levels with a few serious deficits that Karl couldn’t or didn’t want to address. While I’m fine with him moving on, it’s not because I have a hyper-negative view of him. I wish him well and am grateful for his many years of service in Denver.
    My fantasy moving forward is that we focus the rest of the season on developing the younger talent and a consistent style, then pick up a good draft pick, make at least ONE meaningful trade in the offseason for a player that fits Shaw’s system, get our key players back healthy and make a decent run in the playoffs next year. Not too unrealistic. Time will tell if this is a mediocre front office and coach or a solid group who just needed some time to work out the kinks.

    • Furious_Stylez

      Good Call. It’s time for Shaw to start installing his offense. It was too hard to do at the beginning of the season because he didn’t have the right type of players and because of that, he had to switch to the run and gun to get wins. Now that we all agree it’s ‘tank time’, Shaw should start the Inside-Out offense full time to see who fits and who needs to go.

  • Richard Pesicka

    Don’t be so quick to assume that Denver would keep any picks they get after a dismal season. I predict a couple good grabs and the management sells them or trades them. I could be wrong, I’d like to be wrong. But I won’t be.

    • Andrew

      “Couple” grabs? Do you think Nuggets will get an extra pick somewhere? I could be wrong, but I thought they only had the 1st rounder this year. Do you know? Not sure. I think they will keep their 1st rounder. I suppose, though, that it depends on who they get. If they do not get top 3, they might end up with someone like PG Marcus Smart as the best available. I could see them trading his rights. If they get Embiid, Wiggins, Parker or Randle, though, I cannot see them trading.

      • Richard Pesicka

        I don’t see the Nuggets owner paying what an Embiid would want. I think they could do some trading and get another pick. It’s a business, and it’s all about money. If they are truly in the rebuilding state they claim they are, then they will need to make some trades for better talent.