Harold Miner Rumors
Joining Yardley in the current class are Rick Adelman, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Caldwell, Baron Davis, Nancy Dunkle, Gail Goodrich, Dennis Johnson, Steve Kerr, Raymond Lewis, David Meyers, Reggie Miller, Harold Miner, Anita Ortega, Byron Scott, Linda K. Sharp, Reggie Theus, Tina Thompson, Sidney Wicks and John Williams.
Miner said he might like to work in the strength and conditioning field, perhaps as a trainer, or be a TV analyst. For now, he’s looking forward to Sunday. About 50 friends and family members will be in attendance. But Miner said he has a simple message for young players, one he learned after his career ended. “You get to a point where you think it’s going to last forever, that it’s never going to end, so you start to take things for granted, the privilege it is to play basketball,” he said.
As USC’s basketball practice finished Friday, an unfamiliar face joined the players in a huddle. Trojans Coach Kevin O’Neill introduced the man as the greatest player in the program’s history. “I want you all to meet Harold Miner,” he said. Miner’s No. 23 jersey will be retired at Sunday’s USC-UCLA game at the Galen Center. A large photo of him already hangs in the corner of the practice arena. “I really miss being around the game,” Miner said later. “I’ve been away for a long time.”
Only recently, he says, has he put the torment behind. This Saturday at Staples Center he’ll make his first public appearance in more than a decade, joining former UCLA great Don MacLean and eight others in being inducted into the Pacific 10 Conference men’s basketball Hall of Honor. Next season, in what would be his first visit to the on-campus Galen Center, Miner promises to be in attendance when USC retires his jersey No. 23 before a game against Kansas. Asked why he is finally emerging from his cocoon, Miner says, “I guess I feel like I’m over it now. I’ve kind of purged my system and come to a point of accepting what happened with my career: that I wasn’t able to live up to my own personal expectations.”
Emotionally broken, he retreated into semi-seclusion, settling in Las Vegas with wife Pamela and starting a family. (Their brood includes a 7- year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.) “I needed to purge myself of the game, kind of keep a safe distance from the game,” Miner explains over lunch, “because it really hurt to not be able to play anymore. “Basketball was my life, and for it to be taken away so abruptly was tough. Every time March Madness would come around, or the NBA playoffs or All-Star weekend, it was kind of an emotional time for me. It was tough to watch, you know? “Basketball was who I was. It was everything.”
A balky right knee, he says, robbed him of his signature explosion and lift, hastening his exit. Just like that, he notes, his life was turned upside down. “I was kind of a quiet guy [who] used basketball as a way to express myself,” Miner says, “so when my athletic ability became more limited and I couldn’t do the things that I could do before, it kind of took away my zest for the game.”
Harold Miner pulls up in a black Cadillac Escalade, rolls down a window and extends his right hand to greet a visitor. Later, the publicity-shy former USC basketball All-American is friendly and engaging. He shows no sign of discomfort as he recalls the pain of failed expectations and explains why he has mostly strayed from the public eye since his surprisingly unremarkable NBA career short- circuited 15 years ago. Smiling and laughing easily, he appears thoroughly at ease. This is a recluse? “I guess to a lot of people I disappeared,” says Miner, who not only routinely spurned overtures from USC and the media in recent years but also failed to keep in contact with old friends. “I’ve just kind of retreated to family life. I raise my kids. I have a wife. There’s really nothing more to the story.”