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OKC Thunder: From Harrah to big time

by Jenni Carlson Published: October 26, 2008

He was one of three finalists selected after a public audition at Bricktown Brewery in late September. A few days later, he did a tryout at the Ford Center.

Then, he waited.

"It was excruciating,” Miller said. "Anything past a day was going to be hurtful.”

After almost two weeks — and only two days before the Thunder’s exhibition opener — Miller finally got the call.

The job was his.

Miller called family and friends with the good news. Even as they hooted and hollered, he remained calm.

"It just hadn’t sunk in yet,” he said.

But the truth is, Miller has been at peace with the process from the day his students talked about the open tryouts. Trials and tribulations over the past few years strengthened his faith, and he believes what has happens is God’s will, not his.

"He’s given me the talents to do certain things,” Miller said, "and I’m doing them.”

Not that he remained completely calm about his new gig.

"I do a few Tiger Woods fist pumps in the living room,” he said.

Laughter rattled around his classroom, empty during an early-morning planning period. Plaques from speech competitions past lined the pale yellow wall above the chalkboard.

The only words on the board — J. MILLER ROCKS — were punctuated with a heart dotting the I.

"The kids, they knew he was special,” Harrah athletic director Guy Worth said. "They didn’t know how special.”

No doubt the Ford Center faithful will be more critical of Miller than the Harrah student body.

He is ready for the challenge.

"Some people were negative after the preseason game,” Miller said. "It’s a preseason game. You’re not going to lay out your whole hand in a preseason game.

"Even me. I was hesitant that night. ... As confident as I am in this one way, this is the NBA.”

And Jim Miller is ready to tell Oklahoma City all about it.

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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