By Miki Turner
Page 3 staff

When 6-foot-9 Darius Miles made that giant leap from high school to the NBA, a lot of folks thought there was something special about the doe-eyed East St. Louis native.

He had skillz. He had personality. He had cornrows.

He had a future in motion pictures?

Well, maybe that wasn't the first thing that came to mind when young Darius, now a Portland Trail Blazer, arrived in Los Angeles in 2000 to begin a short-lived tenure with the Clippers. But somehow, someone saw something in Miles and sent him to central casting.

Miles, 21, made a cameo appearance as himself in "Van Wilder" and now makes his feature film debut in "The Perfect Score." He plays Desmond, a high school basketball player who's having a bit of trouble passing his SATs. The film, which opens Jan. 30, reunites Miles with St. John's basketball coach Mike Jarvis, who actually tried to recruit Miles before he signed with the Clippers.

Although Miles has already amassed an impressive résumé, the rookie actor is right now opting to keep his veteran status on the court. When he hangs up his Reeboks he'd like to be a sports broadcaster.

Page 3 caught up with Miles while he and his former Cleveland Cavalier teammates (including some cat named LeBron) were in town to play and eventually lose to a dilapidated L.A. Lakers squad. (Miles was traded from Cleveland to Portland earlier this week.)

After spending about 15 minutes with one of the NBA's "working" actors, it's safe to say Miles hasn't gone Hollywood yet!

1. Why is it that some athletes want so badly to be actors and vice-versa?

Darius Miles: I don't know. I didn't want to be an actor. They just happened to pick me.

How did that happen?

I auditioned for it, and they called me back. It was really just something to do for the summer, and I liked the script.

Enter J.R. Bremer: Before you all continue let me say that he definitely has a face made for radio.

DM: (Laughs) Hey, they picked me over Ben Wallace! I'm not planning on doing any more movies any time soon.

2. You never acted in high school or anything?

Uh-uh. It was a first time thing for me.

3. Could you really relate to this character?

Yeah, most definitely.

4. Have you seen the movie yet? How did you think you looked?

Yeah, I've seen the movie. It was strange. I thought I looked weird. I thought I was too black on the screen. All you saw was my eyes!

5. If you had your choice between an Oscar and an NBA championship, which one would you rather have and why?

An NBA championship. That's my real job.

6. Who's the best NBA actor on film?

I'd have to say Ray Allen. A lot of people say he was bad, but I liked Ray Allen in "He Got Game". I wish I could have gotten a role like that.

7. Who's the best and worst actor on the court and why?

Karl Malone for both because he gets all the calls. But that's my man. Karl Malone's my man.

8. Who are some of your favorite actors? Who do you like to watch?

Man, Denzel, Halle, the best of them. I've liked Leonardo DiCaprio every since I saw "Catch Me if You Can" ... how he was changing his image and all that stuff. That was real cool right there. It takes a real actor to do that. I don't think I could have done that.

9. You and Jack Nicholson exchanged a few words before your game against the Lakers recently. Is there anything you think you could teach him about acting?

Naw. Nothing. I wish he could teach me something so I could get some of that money he's got!

10. You can probably relate a little bit to what LeBron (James) is going through now-- maybe not to this frantic extent-- but have you kind of taken him under your wing?

Yeah. L.B.'s my little homey. Aren't you my little homey (yells out to LeBron)?

(A quick nod from LeBron, who is surrounded by a horde of reporters.

That's my man right there. He's handling it good. He's doing very well. I'm very proud of him. I tip my hat off to him because a lot of people can't handle that. A lot of people just go under the pressure and go all the way down.

What was some of the initial advice you gave him?

Just keep his head up. Keep good people around him and always think positive.