Basketball stars get personal

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The University Student Union held a free event called Time Out at the Performing Arts Center Wednesday afternoon.

The Time Out event had two guest speakers: Cheryl Miller, sideline reporter for TNT Sports and former WNBA basketball coach, and Luke Walton, forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. The speakers gave words of encouragement, background information about their careers and a participated in a question and answer session with the audience.

Cheryl Miller, sister of Reggie Miller, a former NBA player who recently retired from the Indiana Pacers, grew up playing basketball with her four siblings. She played competitively through high school and won the record for the most points scored – 104 – in a single game in California. She won a full scholarship to USC as a communications major, and her team won the national titles in 1982 and ’83. In 1984, she won an Olympic gold medal for basketball. She was 20 years old.

“Make the most of this time while you are in college,” Miller said. “You can’t get it back.”

After a successful basketball career, Miller went on to coach at USC from 1993-95, and in the WNBA for the Phoenix Mercury from 1997-2000. In 1995, she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

“The highlight of my coaching career was the inaugural season of the WNBA,” Miller said. “There were 15,000 people in the stands.”

While coaching at USC, Miller was also doing some broadcasting work. She has been an NBA analyst with TNT sports for 13 years.

“I never thought this would happen,” Miller said. “There were less than a handful of women at the time doing this kind of work.”

Miller said her inspiration came from retired basketball player Julius Erving. She said that she would have continued to play basketball if her knees weren’t bad, but she wanted to stay involved with the game.

While Miller has achieved many great accomplishments during her career, Walton recently began his. At the age of 25, Walton is going into his third season with the Lakers.

As the son of Bill Walton, who played for the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trailblazers, he was brought up playing basketball. He said he became serious about basketball in high school.

“I loved to play basketball,” Walton said. “On my Friday nights in high school, my friends and I used to play until two or three in (the) morning.”

Walton received a scholarship to the University of Arizona and was a family studies and human development major.

“A career for NBA players usually lasts from two and half years to 11 or 12 years,” Walton said. “I want to play for the next 30 years.”

Time Out was put together by the Union Program Council. Vanessa Lee, sports and recreation chair of the UPC, helped coordinate the event.

“After Maya Angelou (came), we decided we wanted to do a lecture each year or semester,” Lee said. “We wanted to get a big sports speaker.”

With a budget allocated from CSUN students’ fees, Walton received $8,500 and Miller received $11,000 to speak to the students at CSUN. One hundred and twenty students attended the event.

“The event was really good and really successful,” Lee said. “It was hard to create a schedule with the speakers’ schedule, but we had wanted a bigger turn out to promote the CSUN spirit.”

Alexandra Ornelas, a kinesiology and exercise science major, attended the event.

“I always liked basketball,” Ornelas said. “That was the main reason I came.”

Michael Sullivan can be reached at michael.sullivan.843@csun.edu.