KENDALLVILLE – He can see the future now, through those orange reflector shades.
Its 12:45 or so on Monday afternoon, and the parking lot at Noble Hawk Golf Links is full. The overflow parking, on a grassy knoll beyond the putting range, is filling fast. And still the sedans and the SUVs roll in, still the golfers keep coming.
Mellow sun beats down, there are cotton-ball clouds in a Tar Heel-blue sky, and Brad Miller looks around, smiles his secretive smile, and sees Life Beyond Basketball.
Im starting to realize how many years I got to play and all the experiences I had, says Miller, 35, the former Purdue standout who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves now and is – hang on – a 12-year NBA veteran. Its about that time to start a new chapter in my life. Expand on this even more. We can really have some fun with it.
It, of course, being the Brad Miller Golf Outing, Gala & Auction, which began eight years ago as Millers way of paying a childhood debt – proceeds go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana, which provided Miller with his own Big Brother as a boy – and has become, well, an event.
Sixty-one teams comprising more than 300 golfers, and representing companies and people from all over northeast Indiana, took part in the Florida scramble at Noble Hawk on Monday. Close to 500 have made reservations for Saturdays Gala and Auction at Grand Wayne Center. Thats up from 350 last year.
So two days of giving back have turned into something perilously close to a full-time for Miller, which is fine with him. He can see the end of the road now, after all, and its not far off. Although a lot of his NBA colleagues fret about what to do if the lockout goes deep into winter, Miller merely shrugs.
He couldnt play until January, anyway, he says, because hes recovering from mid-May knee surgery. And hes not going overseas again; thats a young mans game, and, besides, I already did my bit overseas.
So whats he doing for the time being?
Planning hunts, he says. Planning hunts in case we dont get started.
Which is the rest of the future he sees, from behind those shades. His passion for bowhunting led to a hunting show – Country Boys Outdoors – on The Sportman Channel a couple of years back; in 2010, Country Boys won Best New Series at the annual Sportsman Choice Awards in Las Vegas.
This summer, he and the show went to South Africa.
It was awesome, Miller says. I want to work in that industry, and Im enjoying it.
And basketball? The lockout?
Well see what happens with that, he says. Im old enough that I havent got much basketball left in the tank at competitive levels, so Im just enjoying the time off.
Not that he has much choice. The knee, Miller says, is coming along more slowly than it might have because the lockout hasnt permitted him to work with the team therapists or trainers. But, he says, you just get through it.
And after that
Well. Theres this, today. And a tree stand. And the rush that comes when the quarrys in sight and youve got the shot.
Its more like yourself and your own heartbeat and just kind of that adrenaline rush, Miller says. Its not the same (as basketball), but its similar in terms of that rush, that excitement of playing. Arrow flies, its on.
To the next thing, and beyond.