Heat G Mike Miller hopes to avoid back surgery

Associated Press Modified: July 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm •  Published: July 17, 2012
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HIALEAH, Fla. (AP) — Mike Miller believes his balky back can improve without surgery, and he's planning to help the NBA champion Miami Heat defend their crown next season.

Miller limped through much of this past season, his back pain so severe at times that he couldn't even sit on the Heat bench during games. He has been consulting with Miami neurosurgeon Dr. Barth Green throughout this offseason, and the expectation now is that a combination of rest and rehabilitation should be enough to get him ready to play again.

"No retirement," Miller said Tuesday.

Miller made an appearance for about 600 children at a basketball camp he sponsored, walking in to roars from the kids and chants of his last name. And when told that Hialeah, a city just north of Miami, believes it was the epicenter of the biggest party to celebrate the Heat championship, Miller tipped his hand as to his future plans.

"Then let's party again next year," Miller said.

Miller was 7 for 8 from 3-point range in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Oklahoma City, helping the Heat clinch the franchise's second championship.

Miller has three years remaining on his contract with the Heat, but considered retiring after two injury-filled seasons in Miami. An array of thumb, wrist and shoulder injuries plagued him in the 2010-11 season, and this past year was marred as well, first by offseason hernia surgery, the issue with a disc in his back, and a sprained ankle.

If back surgery was needed, Miller might have been sidelined for months and said that would have prompted him to lean toward retirement.

"The plan is to avoid surgery," Miller said. "We're doing everything we can. The doctor says it looks fantastic. So we're going to continue to go in that direction, continue to rehab it, see how it goes."

Miller is scheduled to visit Green again Wednesday to discuss more rehab plans. Green is widely considered one of the world's top surgeons, and Miller said it was somewhat frightening to have to see him and essentially decide his basketball future.

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