The Big O Rembembers Sir Charles
Oliver Miller was a rookie on the Suns’ 1992-93 team that racked up a league-best 62 wins and made it to the NBA Finals. Now with Minnesota, “Big O” shared his thoughts with Suns.com about starting his career alongside Charles Barkley.
Suns.com: What do you think about Barkley going up in the Suns’ Ring of Honor?
Oliver Miller: Charles should thank me for getting his number retired because if it wasn’t for the sensational rookie… (laughs) No, I’m just playing. I’m happy for him. He deserves it. I’m happy for his family.
Suns.com: What was it like playing with Barkley?
Miller: It was fun and very interesting. You hear a lot, you see a lot. It’s just fun to watch the guy and it’s funny to hear him on TNT when he talks about AI (Allen Iverson) with practice because everybody knows Chuck didn’t practice. When he did practice it was a very interesting practice because he always made us end up running. He’d come in three-on-two drill, he’d throw the ball behind the back into the stands and we would have to be on the (free throw) line because of Chuck.
But I learned a lot from him. I learned how to take the winning attitude to the game. Just his presence on the floor is just amazing. I learned a lot in my rookie season and my second season.
Suns.com: Do you have any favorite memories of playing with Barkley?
Miller: There are so many. Charles is just a funny guy. There’s so many off the court and on the court things that Charles say and do you just can’t name them all.
I’ll tell you a funny one. We were playing Houston in the playoffs. He came on the bus and said, “Hey A.C. (Green), you good friends with (televangelist) Benny Hinn, right?” And A.C. just smiled and Charles said, “Why don’t you tell him to come lay a healing hand on my back because it sure is hurting.”
There was just a lot of things that Chuck would say. He didn’t try to do it out of disrespect or anything. He was very respectful in the things he said and did.
Suns.com: Barkley was already an established veteran when he came here your rookie year. How did he treat you as a rookie?
Miller: It really didn’t treat me like a rookie. He took me under his wing and he just taught me the ropes. A lot of the things I learned I learned from him and Mark West. Those two guys taught me a lot my rookie season. If it wasn’t for those two guys, I don’t really know where I’d be today. They taught me a whole lot, even though I didn’t listen right away. It took me a couple of years afterward, but I learned a lot.
Suns.com: Was there an intimidation factor coming in as a rookie and practicing against and playing with a player the caliber of Barkley?
Miller: He always looked up to Charles as my idol, so it was just more of an awe as opposed to an intimidation. I just couldn’t believe that the guy that I always looked up to in high school and college, to get a chance to play with him. Just like I’m sure the kids that looked up to MJ (Michael Jordan) and then got a chance to play with him would be more of an awe than an intimidation. Just like here, I hold the best players so I can be the best and I can learn. I hold Kevin (Garnett) in practice because if you’re going to play against other guys and you’re playing with one of the best, you might as well hold the best. I held Charles a lot because I wanted to learn and when I faced other people I was like, “You know what? I hold Charles so you can’t be too much worse.”