It's not uncommon for professional athletes to have hobbies outside of their sport. Many love to golf. Others play tennis or bowl or cook.
For NBA Hall of Famer and current TNT broadcaster Reggie Miller, it's mountain biking.
He recently told The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay that he'll even think about his training schedule or upcoming races while he's calling a game. Miller became so good at cycling that he races at a level just below "pro." But Miller, 56, doesn't think he'll ever race professionally.
"It was either sink or swim," Miller said. "I’ll never be pro, I’m too old to be pro, but I want to be the next level down in my age group. I want to see how far I can take this. And the only way to do that is to go against the best in the 55 to 59 [age group]."
Miller started mountain biking in 2000 when he was still with the Indiana Pacers as another way to stay in shape, but didn't start ramping up his rides until after he retired in 2005. Since then, Miller competed in a multitude of races and even joined the USA Cycling Board Of Directors in February of 2021.
Since becoming a board member, Miller has focused on raising awareness for the sport among underrepresented groups, especially at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. But he doesn't want to stop there.
"When we say inclusivity and diversity, we want everyone. It’s just not African-Americans. All creeds, everyone. I just want everyone to have the opportunity when they ride a bike to feel what I feel," Miller said. "Every kid should have a bike growing up. I had a bike. That was your first taste of freedom, because you could get from A to B to C and be away from your family, with your boys, with your girls. And I want to bring that joy back to adults and to kids. And you’ve got to start young, with kids—kids having bikes.
The funniest part of Miller's off-court exploits, he said, is how much weight he's lost since he started racing more frequently after his retirement. Players joked at the NBA 75th Anniversary Team celebration that Miller looked like he could stay in the league because of his physique. Miller credits cycling.
"I know I’m a skinny guy, but I played my 18-year NBA career hovering around 195, 190 [pounds]. If you’ve got to set 30 screens on Shaquille O’Neal, you need a bit more bulk," Miller said. "Now that I’ve been cycling nonstop since I’ve retired, and really focused on racing the last five years or so, I’m down to 185, and on a long endurance ride, I’ll get down to 180. I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in now."
Miller was one of the best players in the NBA during the 1990s. He was named an All-Star five times during his NBA career and is one of 11 players in American professional basketball history to finish a season with at least a 50 percent field goal shooting percentage, a 40 percent 3-point shooting percentage and a 90 percent free throw percentage. Miller tallied 25,279 total points in his career but is most infamously known for the time he scored eight points in nine seconds to beat the New York Knicks in 1995 during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.