Jason Miller G’20, associate head athletic trainer for the Denver Nuggets, and center Nikola Jokić, finals MVP, enjoy the thrill of victory after the Nuggets win the 2023 NBA Championship.

When the Denver Nuggets won the NBA Championship on June 12 of this year, Jason Miller was right there on the court celebrating with them. He might not be scoring three-pointers or blocking opponents’ shots, but his role is essential to the team’s success. Miller is the associate head athletic trainer for the Nuggets and has worked with the players since 2014.

He is also a 2020 graduate of Moravian University’s doctor of athletic training (DAT) program.

Although an accomplished athletic trainer, Miller felt it was time to refresh his skills and advance his knowledge. “Evidence-based research has become an important part of the preparation to become an athletic trainer, and I felt I was lacking in that,” he says. “Also, I may want to teach someday.”

Miller liked the research component of Moravian’s DAT program, and the week-long on-campus summer institute in mid-July fit nicely into the working rhythm of his year. What he discovered as a student in the program exceeded his expectations.

He enjoyed the variety of courses, the way they were structured to be self-paced, and that students could tailor their plan of study to their interests. “The adaptive sports class was so fascinating, and the spine class was great,” he recalls. Miller especially enjoyed the intense, 40-hour, week-long summer institute for the hands-on practice and the camaraderie.

But the best part of the DAT program he says is the faculty with their depth of knowledge and experience. “They are the leaders in the world in their area in terms of research and hands-on skills,” says Miller. “It was great to learn from them.

“Some of the material was a refresher for me and other pieces extended what I knew,” he adds. “The program fit my needs really well, and it boosted my confidence.”

Working with the Denver Nuggets is also a great fit. Miller didn’t play basketball in high school or college, but he was the student manager of the basketball team at the University of Iowa where he earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He received his master’s in higher education at Auburn University where he served two years as a graduate assistant athletic trainer with the football program before becoming the head athletic trainer with Auburn’s men’s basketball team.

“I like basketball because the numbers are small, so you become like family,” says Miller. “It’s not like football in that regard.

“We have a really good locker room in Denver,” Miller adds. “We’re easygoing and get along well. We’re all working together toward the same goal.”

One of the team members whom Miller gets along with particularly well is Nikola Jokić. When the superstar needs an ankle taped or an injury treated, he turns to Miller. “Our relationship has been natural,” says Miller. “We click. He trusts me.”

The admiration goes both ways. “He is the most down-to-earth, family-oriented athlete I’ve met,” says Miller. “He is gifted physically, and his basketball IQ is off the charts, but his life does not revolve around the sport.”

So, when the Denver Nuggets won the 2023 NBA Championships, celebrating with family meant the most to Jokić. As it did to Miller. “The highlight of my career so far has been winning the championships and celebrating with my family and kids. It was great to see all of it through my boys’ eyes.”

Now Miller’s eyes are looking ahead to training camp, which begins this fall for the 2023–24 season, and perhaps a repeat championship for the Denver Nuggets? Miller will certainly do his best to help them get there.