Sports

Miller hurt more than just himself

After Kings center Brad Miller was suspended five games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the following open letter was written to the 11-year veteran:

Dear Brad, What were you thinking? That's the first question. And the second and the third question. What were you thinking? What were you thinking?

Within the span of a few minutes Thursday -- news travels at the speed of sound and Internet these days -- you blew it. You inhaled and you blew it.

Assuming you tested positive for smoking marijuana sometime between October 1 and June 20, as is widely believed within the organization, you disappointed your bosses, your coaches and your teammates, your fans -- including your youthful admirers -- all of whom will be denied your presence for the first five games of 2008-09.

This is California, but this still hurts.

You couldn't wait until the dead of summer, when the league's pot police never travel anywhere near your favorite fishing holes? Frankly, after all the positives that transpired last season, I'm surprised. Did you forget the public's reaction when you arrived in excellent shape, promising to reclaim your All-Star form and insisting your miserable 2006-07 season was an aberration?

When you spoke so sincerely and candidly, attributing your struggles to the strain associated with your infant daughter's illness, and Sacramentans responded with a group hug?

And then you flunk a drug test? What were you thinking? What's the excuse this time? That you endured a momentary lapse of judgment? That the latest loss to the Lakers drove you to sneak a hit on the side?

Please. Puff away on your own time. If this had occurred during the summer, when your physical condition merely impacts your ability to chug beers, hunt animals, fish for yellowtail or landscape your homes in Indianapolis and Sacramento, I believe I speak for a significant percentage of observers when I say, "To each his own."

Given what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the economy and environment, it's hard to get too worked up about your behavior. There are no allegations of assault, violence associated with guns or gangs. There isn't even anything as juicy as the revelations coming out of the divorce proceedings involving Christie Brinkley or Alex Rodriguez. Besides, we probably should be used to this by now. Jason Williams (2000-01) and Chris Webber (February 2004) both received five-game suspensions for similar transgressions, and Maurice Taylor was flagged during his brief tenure, not that anyone really cared or even noticed.

But Brad, your story last season -- or what we thought was your story -- was touching. You made it all the way back. You weren't a slug anymore. You earned your millions and, in a locker room filled with youngsters and featuring the unpredictable Ron Artest, provided a stabilizing, maturing influence.

So what now? What do you say to the fans after refracturing a relationship? To the Maloofs, who will compensate you with almost $24 million over these next two seasons? To Geoff Petrie, who supported you throughout your difficulties? To your impressionable young teammates, several of whom learned about the suspension after participating in summer-league drills and scrimmages at the practice facility?

Kevin Martin and Spencer Hawes still have your back. They voiced support and mentioned all the good things you do for the organization. Petrie and Reggie Theus expressed disappointment, but they contend that this, too, can be overcome; you still have a lot of fans out here.

But Brad? You owe everyone an apology, a reason to again trust and another great season.

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