GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This weekend marks the return of professional basketball to Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids Gold tip off their season against the Motor City Cruise at Van Andel Arena on Sunday. This will be the second season the team will be coached by Andre Miller, who went 9-23 in his first year at the helm.
But after a full offseason, Miller said he’s more prepared for the upcoming year.
“Offseason was great. I was able to hang out with the Denver Nuggets, the world champion Denver Nuggets, and go participate in Summer League and learn a little bit more about basketball,” Miller said.
The Nuggets are not only the NBA affiliate for the Gold, but were also home for Miller for three and a half seasons during his 17-year pro career. Miller ranks 12th in NBA history in total assists with more than 8,500.
The transition from the NBA to the G League was noticed by Miller on a few different levels.
“The G League is a big difference than the NBA: the lifestyle, the rules, the travel, everything,” he said. “The game is also, I think, a little bit faster than the G League. So you got a lot of hungry guys that are getting up and down the court and they’re letting that ball fly from the three line.”
The team’s lack of wins last year was not lost on Miller, even with several key contributors being called up to Denver and leaving Grand Rapids with a depleted bench. That’s where the Summer League experience with the Nuggets comes in not just for him, but also the players who will be suiting up.
“I’m really excited for the players because they’ve put in a lot of hard work from Summer League all the way to now,” he said. “Guys are coming back and forth, going back and forth from the Nuggets to this team. I’m just excited for those guys to go out and play against different competition and then we’ll see how it plays out.”
Now with a full season under his belt, Miller is more optimistic about the team’s success, but is also ready to help steer the players to reach their full potential both on and off the court.
“My thing is teaching these young guys how to become a professional. How to become a pro, what it takes to become a pro as far as work ethic, routine, habits, all of those things play a huge factor in whether you succeed in this level or in the next level,” Miller said. “That’s pretty much my motto on this level is trying to build young college players into pros and giving them an avenue to express themselves intimately and grow as an individual and as a basketball player.”
The Gold will take on the Cruise at 3 p.m. on Sunday. You can get your tickets by clicking here.