Mike Miller and Heat President Pat Riley during happier times (Getty Images)
In July, the Miami Heat waived swingman Mike Miller while utilizing the amnesty provision, cutting millions of dollars in salary off their books in luxury tax fees, while denying Miller (who played a crucial part in both the team’s 2012 and 2013 NBA Finals conquests) a great shot at a third championship ring.
Months later, word out of Miami is that Miller is considering a lawsuit against the Heat. Not because he was cut from the squad, as even Miller would have a hard time arguing away his cost to the team’s pocketbook, but because he possibly feels the Heat had an indirect role in introducing Mike to an alleged scammer by the name of Haider Zafar.
Miller, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, lost $1.7 million in a scam allegedly orchestrated by Haider Zafar, a South Beach bling king who presented himself as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family.
According to Miller's complaint that has been drawn up but not yet filed, a Heat employee introduced Miller to Zafar, and Zafar used $700,000 of the money he stole from Miller to pay for courtside Heat tickets.
Settlement talks between Miller and the Heat have stalled. Miller asked for that $700,000 back from the Heat, plus attorney’s fees, but “the parties were far apart,” Miller’s attorney, Andrew Fine, said.
A month later, Zafar asked Stephen Weber, who was then the Heat’s executive vice president/sales, to introduce him to “Heat players with businesses Zafar… could invest in.”
According to the complaint, Miller, “at Weber’s urging, met with Zafar at Heat offices,” and Weber told Miller that Zafar was “the real deal.”
Zafar is currently jailed in Ohio on unrelated charges, while Miller is gearing up to work with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013-14, while considering his options.
If the allegations are true, and Zafar used nearly half of what Miller gave to him on courtside seats alone, then this is one of the dumber con artists we can remember. It’s true that you have to keep up appearances at courtside while pretending to be worth far more than you are, but that seems like a bit of a waste. Even if Miller, who was either injured or sitting big minutes for most of 2013-14, had plenty of time to scan the crowd.
Zafar has apparently paid back $300,000 of the initial $2 million that he allegedly swindled from Miller, but negotiations are out of the realm of the possible. Jackson reports that Miller wants the entirety of the remaining $1.7 back, and if the allegations are true, who can blame him?
For those that are unaware of the NBA’s amnesty provision, Miami’s move wasn’t a clean cut of a contract, as Miller’s compensation only ceases to count against the salary cap. Miller will still receive the entirety of the two years and $12.8 million he was owed on his initial contract with the Heat, signed in 2010. That number is somewhat offset by the nearly $900,000 Mike will make this year in Memphis.
Not that tweets like these are in any way related to this case, it is interesting to note just how cordial and professional Miller was after being cut by a team he’s considering filing suit against:
I want thank the Heat organization, my teammates and the fans for an amazing run #TrulyBlessed
— Mike Miller (@m33m) July 16, 2013
- - - - - - -
- Mike Miller
- Miami Heat