Reggie Says "I Just Believe It’s Time"

Reggie Miller smiles while discussing the reasons he has decided to retire after the 2004-05 season on Feb. 11 in Conseco Fieldhouse.
(Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images)
Reggie Says
"I Just Believe It's Time"

By Conrad Brunner | Feb. 11, 2005


Reggie Miller left no doubt, no open door, no equivocation.

His prolific 18-year career will end after the 2004-05 season, Miller confirmed Friday night after the Pacers lost to Houston 91-83.

"I just believe it’s time," Miller said. "I’ve always said to you that when I felt this organization, this franchise, the players were able to take the next step, I think it would be time for me to move on. I really think the younger players, Fred (Jones), Stephen (Jackson), I think these are able, willing bodies to carry this franchise on.

"It started off in ’87, (when) there really wasn’t a lot of excitement for the Pacers. Right now we’re at the level, where, arguably if we had everyone healthy, we’re in the top 10. This is the time for me to move on and for the other guys to step into the light."

Miller made the original announcement through his sister Cheryl, who reported his decision Thursday night on TNT. Miller informed franchise CEO and President Donnie Walsh and Coach Rick Carlisle of the news before it was made public. He said he didn't intend to make the announcement until the end of the season but felt his hand was forced by an earlier TNT report that prompted ongoing speculation and an endless stream of questions about his future.

RELATED LINKS
  • Behind the Scenes: Reggie Miller, Donnie Walsh, Rick Carlisle, Jermaine O'Neal, Austin Croshere, Fred Jones, Stephen Jackson, Patrick Ewing and Jeff Van Gundy on Miller's retirement announcement
  • Paying Tribute: Former teammates, rivals give their perspective
  • Fantastic Finishes: Re-live some of Reggie's magic moments
  • Player HQ: Reggie's home page
  • “There’s no ideal situation that I’m going to leave on," he said. "Last year would have been great, at least getting to the Eastern Conference Finals with a chance to get to the Finals. There’s no ideal. I think what happened in Detroit (on Nov. 19) gave me more motivation to work harder because I knew we were going to be short-handed for such a long period of time.

    "That was another reason I didn’t want to say anything. The focus shouldn’t be on me, it should be on the team and the other players that were going to have to step up because of the suspensions. You don’t want to bring attention to yourself, you want to bring attention to the team. I’m not going to let this year ruin 17 others that have been fantastic. Another thing, we’re still in the playoffs and we can still beat a lot of teams if we play the right way. This year can still be special for us.”

    Told that Jermaine O'Neal said he would try to convince him to change his mind, Miller made it clear that wasn't going to happen.

    "No," he said. "There’s no Michael Jordan thing going on. There’s none of that.”

    The most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history, Miller is No. 1 all-time in 3-pointers attempted (6,321) and made (2,506). He is the franchise's all-time leader in scoring and assists and stands 14th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. In his 18th season, the 39-year-old shooting guard currently is averaging 11.9 points.

    "I'm going to miss him an awful lot," said Walsh, who drafted Miller at No. 11 overall in 1987 over the strong, vocal objections of local fans who would've preferred Indiana University star Steve Alford. "He's been a mainstay player for us for a long time. He helped elevate this franchise in the NBA. On and off the court, he was a thorough professional and that spread throughout our team at various times in his career.

    "I would say he's had the best professional career to this point of anybody in the history of Indianapolis."

    He joined a franchise in 1987 that had reached the playoffs just twice in 11 NBA seasons. He leaves a team that has been in the postseason 14 times in the last 15 years, including five trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and one to the NBA Finals.

    Carlisle told the team before the morning shootaround of Miller's decision.

    "I sense our guys understand this is a landmark day in a lot of ways," Carlisle said. "This is a decision that puts us 30-some games until (the end) of one of the great careers that we've ever seen in this league, not to mention this franchise. So it's an emotional day for a lot of us."

    Austin Croshere has spent the entirety of his career with Miller and said he couldn't envision what it will be like to play without him.

    "It's hard to imagine us without him," Croshere said, "but he's been doing a great job the last three or four years of slowly handing over the reigns of this team to Jermaine (O'Neal) and other players and signifying he's taking a back-seat role. He's a legend in this franchise and will not soon be forgotten."

    "He's had an amazing career," said O'Neal. "Every game is important for us, anyway. It just puts more emphasis on getting Reggie back to the NBA Finals. ... If he does retire, we're going to lose a great leader. I've got to pick it up and try to walk in his footsteps."

    It remains to be seen how the timing of the announcement will affect the team, but the players believe it will be for the better because it brings closure to the ongoing mystery about Miller's future. The Pacers have won three of four entering tonight's game with Houston, one of three home games remaining before the All-Star break. At 23-25, the Pacers are on the fringes of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

    "We'd get (different) feelings from week to week," said Fred Jones. "Some days we might look at him and see the way he's feeling and think he's not going to be with us next year. But other days, he looks like he might be here the next five years.

    "Now that we know exactly what's going on, hopefully all of us will pour our hearts out for him this year and leave it all out on the floor for him."