On the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, I find it fitting to talk about one of my favorite Cavaliers of all-time. Wish I could have gotten him into the Top 10, but it just didn’t work out that way. Coming in at #11 on the list, is none other than Darius Lavar Miles.
Darius was born in 1981, in Belleville Illinois. He attended East St. Louis High School, and led his team to 3rd place in the 2000 Illinois State High School championship. D-Miles was a high school phenom at 6 ft. 9″, but he encountered a bit of an issue when it came to getting into college. He wanted to play at St. John’s, but failed to receive a qualifying SAT score to get into the school. Apparently those SAT classes didn’t do the trick. Darius wasn’t too worried about it, and decided to skip the whole “college” thing and go straight to the Pros, similar to Kobe and later LeBron.
He entered the 2000 NBA Draft, and was expected to be a first-rounder. No one saw the Clippers taking him with the 3rd overall pick, but that is exactly what happened. At the time, he was the highest pick ever taken directly out of high school. Who said obtaining a college degree was important anyways?
For the next two years, Darius made headlines on a flashy Clippers squad. Playing alongside high-flying Miles was Quentin Richardson, Lamar Odom, and Elton Brand. This was unquestionably one of the most exciting teams in NBA history, and become popular with young fans.
It was in LA where Darius and Quentin trademarked their classic “double-fist head tap” celebration. Still never really figured out what exactly it meant, but my boy Lechner and I imitated it all the time in middle school. Those were the days.
Before the 2002-2003 season, the Cavaliers traded one Cavalier legend for another. Andre Miller was sent to the Clippers for Darius, and I would have been upset if it was for anyone else. Unfortunately, during Darius’ only full year with the Cavaliers, we were the worst team in the league. Don’t put all the blame on Miles though, don’t forget the immortal Ricky Davis was on this team as well. A classic Darius/Ricky story occured before the season, when the team was featured them on the media guide. Like a true baller, Darius overslept and didn’t even make it to Media Day.
Darius played in 62 games, starting 67, and the team finished 17-65. I watched every game of this season, on WUAB 43 and FSN. I still don’t get why Dan Gilbert replaced stud announcer Michael Reghi. Probably the worst move in franchise history. Regardless, in every defeat, you could at least count on one great dunk from D-Miles.
Darius Miles and the horrendous play of the Cavaliers that season led to the team locking up the #1 overall pick in the 2003 Draft. The #1 pick turned out to be some player named LeBron James. He’s pretty good from what I hear. Darius and LeBron were close friends at the time, and the franchise was ready to move in a positive direction.
Midway through the 2003 season, the Cavaliers decided they no longer had a need for Darius. He and LeBron played the same position, and it just wasn’t meant to be. That’s not to say that he and The King didn’t hook up on a few sick alley-oops before he departed to Portland. We shipped him out, and in return received Jeff McInnis. Not exactly what I had in mind.
While he was in Portland, he showed some of what he was capable of, and the Blazers were impressed. So impressed, that they offered him a 6 year, $48 million dollar contract. It was a pretty good deal for Miles, who hadn’t exactly earned much of anything yet.
My favorite story about Darius in Portland came during the 2004-2005 season, when he got into it with then-Coach Maurice Cheeks. He apparently insulted Cheeks with racial slurs, and was quoted as saying, “I don’t care if we lose the next 20 games, since Cheeks is going to be fired anyways.” Talk about sticking it to the man. No one could doubt what he said was true, as Cheeks was soon fired and the team proceeded to lose most of their games the rest of the season.
In 2005, he began the season red-hot. In the first regular season game against Minnesota, he dropped 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, along with 5 assists and 5 steals, and 3 blocked shots. He kept it up until he suffered a knee injury, and when he returned in February he just wasn’t the same. He was a player who relied on his quickness and jumping ability, and his knee just wasn’t agreeing with him. He sat out the entire 2006-2007 season due to microfracture surgery.
Darius is a Cavalier-great, whether you agree or not. Not only does he play basketball, but he’s also an actor. He starred in the 2004 film The Perfect Score, where ironically, he played a high school basketball player who needed a qualifying SAT score to get into college. Must have been a tough role for him to get into. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. D-Miles is one of the 5 best dunkers in Cavaliers franchise, up there with the likes of LeBron and Ricky Davis. Now that I think about it, Miles might be one of the most ferocious dunkers of all-time. He represented the youth movement of the early 2000’s, and was unfairly traded before he and LeBron the chance to mesh. When he wanted to, he could block shots with the best of ’em. Darius is currently attempting an NBA comeback with the Charlotte Bobcats, and I wish him the best. I miss seeing the double-fist head bump, and hope he makes it onto a roster so he can bust it out after a nasty dunk. It’s pretty obvious, Darius Miles is Underrated