MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They’re far enough apart in age to be father and son. Instead, they’re teammates.
They’re the oldest and the youngest players on the Timberwolves. Tyus Jones and Andre Miller are separated by 20 years of life on this earth. Miller’s 39 – more than twice as old as the 19-year-old Jones.
And their different ages bring different perspectives. On basketball, and on life.
“I remember when I was young (in the NBA),” Miller said. “You came in and you didn’t say nothing.”
Jones has his whole career in front of him.
“It’s just motivation,” he said. “I haven’t done anything yet.”
For Miller, it’s mostly behind him.
“My time is pretty much over,” he said. “So you have to kind of lead by example.”
Not only is he the oldest player on the Wolves, Miller is the oldest player in the whole NBA. For his part, Jones is the fourth-youngest. They are the oldest and youngest pro athletes on any team in the Twin Cities.
“You gotta be mature about it,” Jones said of being so young in the NBA. “There’s a lot thrown at you. Your life changes dramatically, just coming from college. Now you have a full-time job, you’re a professional athlete. You’re making a lot of money. You gotta be mature about everything, both on and off the court.”
Nowhere is the generation gap more evident than when it comes to pop culture – Jones preferring Lil Wayne and Space Jam, Miller the likes of Snoop Dogg and Shaka Zulu.
“I feel old when everybody keeps reminding me,” Miller said with a laugh. “But being around Ty is motivation to continue to work hard and prove that I can keep up with these guys.”
Miller has built up a lot of experience and wisdom over his years in the league. So what does Jones need to know about life in the NBA?
“My No. 1 advice would probably just not to get caught up with the politics,” he said. “The politics, the drama, the distractions off the court. That can easily carry on to on the court. (There are) just a lot of things that go on (with) the business of basketball (that it’s important) not (to be) looking at it as a job. And keeping your level of passion is gonna carry (a player) a long way.”
Miller said he couldn’t imagine himself being able to do what Jones is doing at such a young age.
“I couldn’t imagine being 19 years old and making that jump, just knowing how physical the game was back then,” he said. “And I give Ty a lot of credit. Maturity-wise, he sets himself apart from a lot of players that I’ve met so far that’s coming in.”
Likewise, Jones said he couldn’t imagine playing until he’s 39.
“I can’t, and that just goes to show what Dre has accomplished and the career he has,” he said. “If I’m 39 and still playing in the league, I’d be very blessed and very fortunate.”
That, and Miller would be 59.
But this all was a big part of Flip Saunders’ vision. Pairing young guys with old veterans.
“I think it’s the perfect situation for me, to be a part of this organization and to have Andre here, because he’s accomplished so much in this league,” Jones said. “He knows what it takes, knows what you need to do.”
They’re two different guys, from two different generations, with two different perspectives, playing on the same team and chasing after the same goal.
Ageism has no place here.
“I try to treat him with respect,” Miller said. “And look at him as my peer, my co-worker, and somebody that I want to win with.”
“Every day we come into it being professionals,” Jones said. “We’re all equals. No one’s looking down on one another. But at the same time we’re all pushing each other to get better because at the end of the day, winning is the main goal.”