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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Former Wildcat Miles Simon to have jersey retired

Courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Miles Simon played guard for UA from 1995-98. Simon is the only UA player to be selected as a Final Four M.O.P.

What was going to be a usual go-through-the-motions kind of day for former Arizona shooting guard Miles Simon, turned into quite the opposite. Arizona Athletics announced Wednesday that Simon would be honored at halftime of the McDonald’s Red-Blue game on Oct. 14. He will become the fifth jersey retired for UA men’s basketball.

Not the usual day in the Simon household, but the breaking news of the program officially retiring his No. 34 is a gesture that he will gratefully and humbly accept.

Simon, the 1997 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, said he’s been absorbing all of the encouragement and has been smothered by positive comments. He has every right to puff out his chest and relish the praise.

“It’s just an overwhelming amount of support and love and the positivity thrown my way has been truly amazing,” Simon said. “So I’ve been on a high since [Greg Byrne] made the announcement.”

Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson was one of the first that reached out to Simon after the news broke. It’s safe to say Olson was a part of the majority group that was thrilled for Simon, but Olson was impatiently waiting for this moment to happen.

“His text message said ‘congragulations’ and ‘it’s about time,’” Simon said. “He was very congratulatory and saying how much I deserved it, so it was awesome and we told each other how much we look forward to seeing each other at the reunion.”

Simon received the news once UA changed its requirements to have a jersey number retired. The original checklist ensured a player had either been a national player of the year or receive a major national athlete of the year award. Even though it took nearly 20 years to change the policy, Simon wasn’t losing any sleep over it.

He helped Arizona knock off three No. 1 seeds in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. Breaking barriers is Simon’s niche.

“It wasn’t something I was holding my breath on,” Simon said. “Now that it’s happened, it’s obviously just a huge honor. This is one of the premiere basketball programs in all of college basketball and to have your number up there with five other players in Arizona basketball history is truly an honor.”

“I’m still part of one of the greatest programs of all-time and it’s just a cherry on top of what happened in my career,” Simon said.

He didn’t have the ‘sexiest’ career after college, considering his NBA career was only a year old. But his mind for basketball kept him around the game, playing overseas and eventually becoming an assistant coach for UA from 2005-2008.

Simon then decided to take his talents and intelligence to the broadcasting booth by becoming a color analyst and in-studio analyst for ESPN during college basketball season.

Simon noted some key differences about being a broadcaster compared to his time as a player and coach.

“It’s a lot less stressful than coaching because I don’t have to take any wins or losses, but mostly losses,” Simon said.

Opportunity came knocking for another coaching stint, but Simon would rather wonder where he’s taking his family out to dinner rather than planning recruiting trips and practice schedules.

“I’ve had a couple of opportunities to get back in, but they haven’t been better than what I’m doing right now,” Simon said.

An accomplishment like having a jersey retired is something to feel proud of. But when it’s with Jason Terry, Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Jason Gardner and Mike Bibby, there’s a surreal feeling that goes along with it.

He provided the most Miles Simon answer when asked where this ranked on the Simon meter by saying it’s a close second.

“National championship is number one and this is 1A,” Simon said. “Both of them are team accomplishments. I didn’t win a national championship by myself. … To be able to get my jersey hung in the rafters was because of those guys.”

The former player, assitant and current analyst placed the team’s accomplishment over the personal accomplishment, and that could be the very reason why he’ll go down as one of the greatest Wildcats of all-time.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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