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OKC Thunder: From Harrah to big time

by Jenni Carlson Published: October 26, 2008
By day, Jim Miller is the speech teacher and tennis coach at Harrah High.

By night, he is the voice of the Thunder.

That’s about as unlikely as Oklahoma City landing an NBA team.

Oh, wait ...

In what is already an amazing tale — NBA basketball in Oklahoma City! — nothing about this real-life, big-league fairy tale is any more astonishing than Miller. Last season, he was the public address announcer for Harrah basketball. Now, he will do the PA for the Thunder.

When Oklahoma City celebrates the Thunder’s momentous season opener later this week, Miller will provide the voiceover for history.

"I feel like I’ve been preparing for 40 years,” he said.

Born and raised near Ada, Miller dreamed of doing radio or public address for a major college or a professional team.

One problem — big-city life didn’t appeal to him.

Miller chose to stay close to home after college, starting a family, working in small-town radio, then going into teaching and coaching about 10 years ago.

"All along, my family and my friends have been encouraging me — ‘You know, you’ve got the skills’ — and I knew that I did,” Miller said, his voice deep but full of inflection. "But you make choices. I chose not to pursue that.

"But I’m pursuing it now.”

A couple years ago, he moved to Harrah because he wanted to be closer to a metro area. Living just east of Choctaw, he could be in downtown Oklahoma City in only 30 minutes and could explore new options.

But life interrupted Miller’s plans, and he spent the past few years focusing instead on his family and his career.

Then one day in August, students in his beginning-level speech class were doing short verbal summaries of stories from the newspaper. A couple told about the open tryouts being held by Oklahoma City’s NBA team. It needed halftime acts, a game-day emcee and a public address announcer.

Miller’s jaw hit the floor.

"Guys,” he told his students, "I’m all over this.”

He was one of three finalists selected after a public audition at Bricktown Brewery in late September.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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