A.J. Millien knew his first visit to Halifax wouldn’t be his last.
“I fell in love with Halifax when I first got here,” says Millien, who played for the Augusta Groove at the Halifax Rainmen’s Holiday Classic pre-season tournament. “I told myself, for some reason, I’m gonna come back, to visit or to play.”
Maybe it was the fact that he dominated the Rainmen for a ridiculous average of 38.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in two games in December. Maybe it was a premonition.
Either way, when the Groove released him last Thursday, he was quick to sign with the Rainmen a day later.
“When (the Groove) released me to Halifax, I didn’t argue,” he recalls. “I said, ‘fine.’ I packed my bags and left.”
The details of how the Premier Basketball League’s leading scorer was released vary depending on the source.
Millien, a six-foot-nine forward, says his paycheques from the Groove bounced, even though he’d previously agreed on a monthly salary of $2,800 US with owner Gary Perry.
Perry, meanwhile, told metronews.ca on Friday that his team was going in a “different direction.” He wanted to “slow the tempo down” and Millien “wasn’t a good fit.” He said it wasn’t because of payroll issues or Millien’s attitude.
But Perry told the Augusta Chronicle that Millien “wanted more touches” and was “messing with” team chemistry.
Millien calls Perry’s conflicting comments “all lies.”
“He’s going in a different direction … financially, because he can’t afford me,” Millien says.
“He’s not a very good owner. He hadn’t paid none of the players. He gave out bounced cheques. That’s the new direction he’s talking about.”
Millien, whose initials stand for Antoine Jr. and whose nickname is Slim, was averaging 30.9 points and 12.4 rebounds per game when he signed with Halifax. The Rainmen desperately need his presence down low, and he scored 12 points in his debut on Sunday despite barely knowing the offence.
He calls the crowd of 3,682 at Sunday’s game the biggest home crowd he has ever seen, and he’s hoping for more when the Vermont Frost Heaves visit on Friday at 7 p.m.
“This is a better situation,” he says. “Good people, good fans good community, good environment. I love it already.”