Mike Miller Hints That Amnesty May Have Triggered LeBron Leaving

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One would think that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s on and off-court relationship was far-and-away the strongest for James during his four years with the Miami Heat, but a certain other teammate would have some say in the matter. James’ Cleveland Cavaliers teammate (and former Heat member) Mike Miller was a comrade that James highly coveted and needed on the hardwood. James had a connection with Miller that only grew throughout their time in South Beach, highlighted by a spectacular 2012 Finals-clinching performance that saw Miller drain a Finals-record eight three-pointers. The duo secured a bond that would only be undone by a regime they once battled for night in and night out. According to Miller, James was angered by the Heat’s waiving of his close friend, via the amnesty clause. Anger, in turn, that may have been the beginning of the end of the multiple-time MVP’s stay in South Beach.

“LeBron thought it was an unnecessary change,” Miller told the Northeast Ohio Media Group (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer). “I’m not saying I would have been a difference maker. San Antonio was unbelievable last year and there are a lot of things that go into a season, but it was difficult for LeBron.”

After winning consecutive NBA championships together, James’ state of euphoria from two years of glory turned into a feeling of distrust and frustration with Heat Owner Micky Arison after a move that blindsided and hurt him. When the amnesty clause was dropped on Miller, the Heat lost that critical jumper from beyond the arc. The franchise lost a true professional and family man. James lost a person he admired and a teammate he would go to war alongside with any day of the week and, most of all, a brother both on and off the court.

“It was a tough pill to swallow for both of us,” Miller said. “That team went through a lot. The same thing this team is hoping to go through. You’re going to have ups and downs and you grow close. For me, I had a great relationship with LeBron and still have. It was extremely difficult.”

As the loss of Miller grew difficult on James, so did his relationship with the Heat brass. James went through a laborious year last season, carrying more weight than he could handle as Wade spent several games on the injured list, while Chris Bosh put up pedestrian numbers (16.2 points and a career-low 6.6 rebounds per game) – something that the Heat did not expect of the multiple-time All-Star. Culminated with a lopsided Finals series defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the last straw dropped for James as the confetti filled the AT&T Center. James wanted to relieve the stress and rigors of an uncertain Heat roster, while also circumventing a void that irked him all of last season.

James could only wonder what would’ve happened if Miller had been retained, if Miller had been allowed to make plays and help James continue to even greater levels of championship glory. Reunited once more in Cleveland, James has that chance to find those answers with the 14-year NBA veteran. But more questions arise as to how comparable James’ bond with Miller is with the one he has with longtime friend Wade, given James’ extremely high praise of the former.

“We’re as close as teammates than any I’ve had in my career,” James said. “I’ve always wanted to play alongside of him. When you go through tough times in an NBA season, you get to know each other even more beyond the game of basketball.”

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The Miami Heat enters a season still full of championship aspirations, but also with a sense that one chink in their armor may have led to the demise of a powerhouse led by the game’s most powerful star. James is no longer empowering the Heat and fans throughout may look at Miller as the precursor to such a demoralizing departure. But it’s a business, and tough business decisions have to be made. Miller was battling back issues and his decreasing contractual value. As much as the Heat loved Miller’s three-point production, business called for drastic measures to be made, monetarily speaking. Having saved $17 million but infuriating James in the process, the Heat did what was best for the franchise in whole, something Miller seemingly has embraced better than his close friend.

“It’s not about getting out on the court, or playing or making shots,” Miller told the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “We had a chance to three-peat in Miami. That was difficult but I understand their move, the business side. I’m glad it’s behind me. I’m happy where I’m at.”

James and Miller will have their first chance to vent any and all frustrations towards their former team when the squads meet on Christmas Day. Heat players and fans will certainly express their own frustrations with James over his decision to jump ship for Cleveland. James’ anger is warranted, given the unfortunate and difficult circumstances surrounding amnestying Miller. Such a revelation of James’ feelings towards the Heat, however, should warrant some frustration from Wade, Bosh and the rest of James’ former teammates, who find themselves wondering how one crack in a foundation could ever lead to aggravation so large, yet so below the radar. James was angered by Miller’s release because Miller mattered to him more than anyone in South Beach could imagine and, eventually, more than the Heat could ever fathom.
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Born in San Diego and raised in Los Angeles County, Bobby has been an avid NBA fan throughout his life. A former sports editor for the Daily Forty-Niner at Cal State Long Beach, Bobby also holds a bachelor's degree in journalism at the university and appreciates the development of the NBA over the years and its best player: LeBron James. Bobby is proud to be a contributing staff writer for HeatNation.com.