Bob Miller statue at Staples Center is dreamy stuff

LOS ANGELES – Bob Miller stood outside Staples Center about 6:45 on Saturday night. He was about to see the statue of his likeness unveiled, a tribute to his 44 years as play-by-play man for the Kings.

His statue would join those of former Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West; former Lakers announcer Chick Hearn; boxer Oscar De La Hoya; and former Kings Luc Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky, on Star Plaza.

As he looked around, Miller saw hundreds upon hundreds of fans on hand for the ceremony. They surrounded the still-covered statue, and they were hanging over the railings of the second and third floors of Staples Center.

Miller was asked if the meaning of it all had hit him. Then, classy guy that he is, he spoke in humble tones.

“What has not sunk in, I really didn’t expect to see this many people around here tonight,” said Miller, 79. “It’s a beautiful night and they’re all so complimentary, and I’ve always appreciated my association with the fans and their loyalty and their passion for Kings hockey. It was so great to visit with them, and that means a lot to me.”

Humility doesn’t mean one can’t enjoy his accomplishments.

“The statue, and the banner inside, just like the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame (he received his star in 2006), are permanent fixtures,” Miller said. “And that means a lot, that they’re going to be here, I hope, forever. That is very satisfying for me.”

Miller’s statue has a microphone in his right hand. He’s waving with his left, which is fitting because by all accounts, he is not short on character. As they took it in, Miller, his wife Judy and the rest of their family were all smiles.

Among the former Kings on hand were Marcel Dionne and Rogie Vachon.

Kings players and coach John Stevens paid tribute to Miller during interviews this week at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.

Defenseman Alec Martinez, who is in his ninth season with the Kings, talked about the respect Miller always showed.

“He’s a tremendous guy,” Martinez said. “He’s always been really nice to the players and really good to work with. We obviously used to see him a little bit more when he traveled on the road with us and all that. But to see him being honored tonight, I mean, that’s pretty cool.”

Miller retired after this past season.

Defenseman Drew Doughty smiled when the subject of Miller’s honor was broached.

“Yeah, he was the top guy for a long time,” said Doughty, in his 10th season, all with the Kings. “I don’t know how many years he did it, but he’s a legend around here. So, yeah, I’m happy for him.”

Center Anze Kopitar has been around longer than Martinez and Doughty – 12 seasons, to be exact. He was short, but to the point, in his praise.

“Wow, I think he definitely deserves it, obviously,” Kopitar said. “He’s been around for a long, long time and I think it’s very fitting.”

Miller really loved hearing all that.

“That’s very gratifying to me,” he said. “And those players are kind of that way with everybody. They’re cooperative, they’re polite and I always enjoyed being around them, enjoyed broadcasting games and watching what they could do on the ice. And I thank them for winning two Stanley Cups (in 2012, 2014) in three years. That was a highlight.”

Stevens spoke of Miller’s dedication to his work.

“It’s a great tribute to a man who put in a lot of time here,” Stevens said of Miller, who called 3,353 games . “He’s been a big part of the L.A. Kings hockey world for a long, long time. … He traveled with us lots. He always had a ton of energy. You saw him on the road, it seemed like he loved what he did.

“He loved being on the road, loved interacting and conversing, certainly loved the game and had great passion for it.”
Miller didn’t make a speech outside. He did make one when his banner was raised up into the rafters inside prior to the Kings taking on the Ducks.

“I would like to say it’s a dream come true, but I can’t because I never dreamed of a statue outside of Staples Center, or a banner inside Staples Center,” he said.

The crowd roared, as if to say, “He shoots, he scores.”

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