These aren't the best of days to be Legg Mason's (NYSE: LM) Bill Miller. The legendary fund manager of Legg Mason Value Trust (FUND: LMVTX) is one of the more prominent stock pickers tied to long positions on Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC) in the wake of that investment bank's failure, even though just 1.2% of Miller's fund's assets were invested in the ravaged company as of the end of 2007. Amid the disarray, few critics seem to notice that Miller actually has a much larger stake in JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM); that 4.7% segment of the fund's assets soared on Monday, in light of the Fed-backed bailout plan.

The carnage still stung. Miller's fund shed 3% of its value on Monday, more than triple the beating that the S&P 500 took on the day Bear Stearns got obliterated. Miller's fund made back those losses -- and then some -- on Tuesday's market surge, but the fund is still trading 20% lower than the $62.02 price at which it started the year.

Miller isn't just having a bad quarter -- he's been having a few rough years. He turned heads after topping the S&P 500 for 15 consecutive years, through 2005. The streak ended when he proved mortal in 2006, and he lost to the benchmark yet again in 2007. He's now so far behind the pack in 2008 that a threepeat seems ominously imminent for the star investor.

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings
But don't put that in writing just yet. Yes, Miller's fund has bled more than double the S&P 500's 9.3% loss in 2008, but the year is still young, and the fund's offbeat approach toward value investing always gives Miller a chance.

The fund's largest holdings include many of the quintessential Internet growth stocks, like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), and top holding (Nasdaq: AMZN). No one can tell you with any degree of certainty when the market will bounce back, but it's a pretty safe bet that dot-com stalwarts like these will bounce back the hardest when investor enthusiasm returns.

Miller's ability to rebound led me to single out his fund as one of three funds to buy before you die, and I stand by that choice. The guy is 15-2 over the past 17 years. Even if I'm wrong, and he winds up going 15-3, that's good enough to get you into any tournament.

I'm not suggesting that Miller should be the top seed in your NCAA brackets this week. Several Champion Funds newsletter recommendations probably stand a better shot of coming up big in 2008. I'm just telling you that the guy has an impressive long-range jumper to get back into the game, even when his fund appears to be riding the bench.

Check out Champion Funds for help in becoming a more productive fund investor. and eBay are Stock Advisor picks. Legg Mason is an Inside Value recommendation. JPMorgan Chase is an Income Investor selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz always owns a mutual fund or two, even in a portfolio of stocks. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.