Hey! Whatever Happened To Oliver Miller?

By Brian Taylor

This goes out to both Ryan and my man Rashad who must have ESP, because both requested this one.

Welcome back Hoops Addicts for another spine-tingling edition of “Hey! Whatever Happened To.” I’m your host B Teezy and this week we’ll be looking at a classic example of how NOT taking care of your body can “hold you back, like bad credit.” We’ve looked at the colossal Kevin Duckworth, and had the tragic tale of Vin “and Tonic” Baker last week. The guy we’re profiling this week was so sloppy the Globetrotters asked him to leave.

Raptors fans give it up, for Oliver Miller!

In the 1991-1992 NCAA basketball season, one of college’s hottest teams was the Arkansas Razorbacks of the SEC. With guys like Todd Day and Lee Mayberry sniping from the outside, Oliver Miller held down the middle, and averaged around 15-16ppg. In the summer of 1992 (arguably one of the greatest drafts ever) Oliver put his name out there and got picked up by the Charles Barkley-edition Phoenix Suns.

As a rookie, Oliver was short, but took up space, clogging the lane on defense and being Chuck’s bodyguard on offense en route to the Finals. Barkley (a guy who conquered weight issues himself) took Miller under his wing, and the young rook finished his first season leading the Suns in blocks. Oliver was never a scoring option in the desert, but he hustled and got the job done, despite always hovering near the 300lb mark.

In 1994, he signed with the Grant Hill Pistons, playing a marginal role. It was in Motown that “O” started having his weight issues.

Doug Collins, who is an excellent cultivator of young talent (see: Brown, Kwame) was frustrated with Miller’s penchant for coming to training camp out of shape. After some listless play in Motown, Miller was left unprotected in the Canadian Expansion Draft of 95’.

If you ever wanted a who’s who of lousy NBA centers, all one had to do was look north of the border. Acie Earl and Oliver Miller looked like a Kid n’ Play movie gone bad in Toronto, and Vancouver had it bad too, with “Big Country” and Benoit Benjamin.

Teaming up with the 1996 Rookie of the Year, Damon Stoudamire, Miller started to lose weight and managed a respectable 12 points and 7 boards per game. It looked like things were turning around for “O”.

Until training camp.

Once again, Miller showed up for camp sweating Twinkies and was let go by Toronto. His next team, Dallas, was willing to take a shot on him. Miller signed in October of 1996, and was released promptly before Valentine’s Day of 1997. He went back to the Raps a week later, and had his contract renewed.

It was a stint with the Sacramento Kings that really told the sad tale of Miller’s career.

At a road game against the Suns, the Phoenix Gorilla mascot stuffed his costume with popcorn and pretended to be too fat to move… while wearing Miller’s old jersey. Oliver was in shock and threatened a lawsuit. The Suns apologized, but the humiliation made Oliver binge, thusly eating himself out of the NBA.

Before the Developmental league and ABA2000, there were the Harlem Globetrotters, who are still around today, but are more of a show than a real team. It was where “college-all-stars-go-to-quietly-fade-into-oblivion.” I can remember watching my school’s team (the American U Eagles) having their fall exhibitions against the likes of “Athletes in Action” and the “Nantucket Nectars.” One of these exhibitions came against the Harlem Globetrotters, who’s lineup resembled a “Hey, Whatever Happened To” of college ball. Exree Hipp (former Maryland standout) and Oliver Miller stood out for me in this game. You could see that he was in no way, shape or form ready to play a sport, that involved you know, running, up and down a court, for minutes at a time. After a few more games of Oliver chugging down the court, the Globetrotters released him, stating Miller had “no appreciation for what it takes mentally and physically to be a Harlem Globetrotter”.

In 2003, Oliver made a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was at 325lbs at this point, but a comeback is a comeback, as the Wolves were searching for a band-aid in the middle (this was back when Kandiman and Nesterovic were starters).

The guy was once an athlete though and for visual evidence here’s a link.

Note to all Raptor fans – am I the only one that remembers the Skydome floor having a never-before-seen zigzag pattern in the hardwood? That was hot!

Comments (7)

  1. Strik

    Ah the Big O. I remember when he averaged 12 pts 7 boards a game for the Raptors in 95-96. As a Raps fan I was foolish enough to think at the time that “maybe, just maybe the Big O is gonna turn it around for good.” Wrong. Oh well we still had Mighty Mouse, Alvin Robertson (who you should profile next. The man did get a quadruple double once upon a time.) and Sharone Wright to keep us happy. Man those were some BAD teams!

  2. Thanks for this great blast from the past and it helped me deal with the Raps game being so horrible tonight. The line “sweating twinkies” had me in stitches – thanks buddy!

    Your Wizards almost pulled out the win tonight… it’s a shame that Jamison couldn’t get any help from the supporting cast! I bet your keeping your fingers crossed that Butler is able to return in time for the playoffs. I’ll be scoreboard watching again tomorrow night to see if the Bulls can knock off the Nets and if Washington can take out Indy so that they can secure the sixth seed. As a Raps fan I’d prefer to see the Wiz because of their injuries AND because it looks like I’ll be able to score an interview with a writer for the Washington Post to chat about the series!

  3. Seeing this dude crash and burn hurt me, because he really had talent. And it seems to me if the only thing standing between millions of dollars and sitting at home, is weight, that you should be hitting up Dick Gregory, Oprah and Jared to get that done. Instead he was overweight, and had straight men like me trying to sneak a peek under his jersey..I swear he looks like Barney in that pic you have.

    On a more serious note, that brief mention of Exree made me remember that Laron Cephas passed a couple days back..

  4. I’ll always remember the first game I ever went to in Boston’s new Fleetcenter back in ’96…You know, the one where former Celtic Acie Earl dropped 40 and 12.

    And great work in bringing up the two All Name Team Hall of Famers, Lee Mayberry and Exree Hipp. Forgot about my boy Hipp entirely.

    As for Colossal Oliver, I was fortunate enough to have caught him during his stint with the Globetrotters a few years back (along with blind-fold extraordinaire Cedric Ceballos, no less) playing St. John’s in the Garden.
    And I know it’s cliche’……But you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen Oliver Miller weezing up and down the court of MSG in a Trotter jersey, repeatedly missing layups after catching passes from the worst dunk champ in NBA history.

  5. I remember my first ever NBA game at the end of 1995. There I was, a 9 year old taking in the magic of my very first professional basketball game. It was in the Skydome and the Brian Williams-era Detroit Pistons were in town. The game came down to the wire and all I can remember is thinking that in the confines of this complex, nothing could ever go wrong. It was perfect. I think the Raps were down by two points with less than the shot clock remaining, maybe three points. In the final seconds we had the ball out of bounds and I fully expected Damon Stoudamire to jack the game winning three, he was, after all Mighty Mouse, and when you’re nine years old a Superhero nickname is enough to defy all rational thoughts of probability. We were going to win that game. But after the ball was inbounded the play broke down and who stepped up to jack the potential miracle? Big Oliver himself.

    Oliver Miller would go on to miss that three pointer, and I grew up to be perfectly happy and healthy young man. But I can’t help but think about how much sweeter my life would be if he nailed it.

  6. Played a round of golf with big “O”. Nice guy. Weight is sometimes a challenge that’s towers when there are other challenges in our lives. Not sure if this applies to “O” howe ver this was my concern. I now trimming down and trying enjoying life. Big “o” hats off to you. you’re also a force on the golf course.

  7. Chris

    This bleeping article never actually explained “whatever happened to Oliver Miller” — where he is now, what he’s doing. False advertising.

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