On a night when too many of his teammates proved they didn't give a whit, Timberwolves center Brad Miller said farewell to a 14-year NBA career, sobbing as he came to the sideline late in a horrendous, season-ending 131-102 loss to Denver on Thursday at Target Center.
Afterward, Wolves coach Rick Adelman called it a "statement game" that only "reinforces" his thinking about roster changes his team must make during a summer he calls crucial.
And he used Miller's final game -- one in which Miller left the floor for the last time shortly after making one final three-pointer and delivering a pass for a back-door layup -- as an example for all those teammates who made their statement by stinking up the joint once again.
"He's terrific. I hate to see him go out in a game like that because that's not how he plays," said Adelman, who has coached Miller with three different teams. "Even at the end of his career, he's going to give you everything he has."
Several teammates -- led by injured Luke Ridnour, who suited up in uniform even though he hasn't played since April 2 -- wore blue headbands to honor Miller, who received a tap on the head from Adelman and big hugs from players as he freely cried on the bench late in the game and in the locker room afterward.
"I knew he would be emotional because he cares," Adelman said. "He cares about the game. He cares about the way he plays. I knew he didn't have a lot left [in his body], but his influence in the locker room, he tried. He tried to talk to guys and make them understand what it takes to be successful. Remember, he was not drafted and he became an All Star and had a 14-year career. I wish him nothing but the best."
Miller departed an NBA arena for the final time as a player carrying a small cooler of leftover beer, and he shook everybody's hand in a Target Center corridor as he went. Friends from as far away as Alaska flew in for his final game.
"Very emotional, obviously," he said. "As soon as I talk about it, it gets me. I've been playing for 14 years, so when it's time, it's time. My body isn't worth it anymore, but I've still got heart."
And Adelman will be looking for a handful of Brad Millers when he gathers with president of basketball operations David Kahn and owner Glen Taylor to make roster changes this summer.
"A lot of people made a statement in that game tonight," Adelman said. "I don't understand that attitude, why you'd approach any job that way. It's disappointing. I just told them in the locker room, you look at the last month of the season and you decide is that the way you want to do things here? That's not the way I want to do things."
|Miami - LP: B. Morris||4||FINAL|
|Washington - WP: M. Grace||6|
|NY Yankees - LP: C. Martin||1||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: R. Dickey||3|
|Philadelphia - WP: A. Harang||5||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: A. Wood||2|
|Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi||5||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: C. Buchholz||1|
|Los Angeles - LP: C. Hatcher||3||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - WP: M. Blazek||4|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: P. Strop||9||FINAL|
|St. Louis - WP: M. Socolovich||10|
|Oakland - LP: J. Hahn||7||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes||8|
|Texas - WP: K. Kela||2||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: C. Qualls||1|
|Seattle - WP: F. Hernandez||3||FINAL|
|LA Angels - LP: M. Shoemaker||2|
|San Diego - LP: T. Ross||0||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner||2|