Reggie a perfect Hall of Fame example for Granger
April 3, 2012-- Freely and of sound mind, I am going to venture into a realm that seems absurd at the moment, and discuss Danny Granger as a potential Hall of Fame player.
One of the few advantages of age is perspective (another is never having a bad hair day). I clearly remember the first few years of Reggie Miller's career, and I know that at no point during those first seven seasons -- not even those points that involved late nights in hotel bars -- did I even entertain so much as a fleeting notion he would one day wind up not just making the Hall of Fame, but becoming the headliner of his class.
Had I suggested as much at any point during the 1993-94 season, it's quite possible my boss, the late Wayne Fuson, would have re-assigned me to the middle school debate beat and the world would've been denied the literary brilliance of "Boom Baby: The Sudden, Surprising Rise of the Indiana Pacers" (Masters Press, 1994, still available via Amazon.com, although the author no longer receives any royalties, not that he received many to begin with).
But I digress from my digressing.
If you look strictly at the numbers, the similarities are interesting. In his first seven seasons, Miller averaged 19.2 points, made 840 3-pointers, shot 39 percent from the arc.
In his first seven seasons (so far), Granger has averaged 18.2 points, made 902 3-pointers and shot 38.3 percent from the arc.
Miller established himself as a truly elite scorer in his third season, when he averaged 24.6 points but as his career evolved and the team around him improved, his numbers settled at a slightly lower level.
Granger averaged 25.8 in his fourth season. With this, the most talented team he has played with, the average is down to 17.9.
Miller did not experience a playoff series victory in his first six seasons. Neither has Granger.
That seventh year, however, was when it all began. That was the first run to the conference finals, the year the city embraced the franchise like never before, the year Miller became something more than a local celebrity. That was the first step up the ladder to the pantheon of the game.
I am not suggesting a slender, likeable, long-range bomber is about to lead the Pacers on a magical run to the conference finals, hitting big shot after big shot and becoming an iconic figure in the game. I am suggesting it has happened before.
The prolific statistics and memorable shots certainly headlined Miller's career, but they did not define what made him a Hall of Famer.
"It's unfortunate for Reggie, a lot of people just look at some of the shots he hit. Obviously, you've got to take that into account," Bird said. "His durability, his ability to shoot the long-range ball, his demeanor, the way that he competed, it just didn't happen overnight. It was over the course of a career. …
"If you have the work ethic and you have the basketball IQ and you have a demeanor where you compete every night, I think everyone's got a shot. Obviously, you've got to put the time in. If you do that, you're going to get better and better. There's a certain level you get to; can you get any better? And that's the key for all these players."
Miller was a Hall of Famer made, not born.
At some point, he looked in the mirror and decided not to settle. He had a nice career, plenty of money and a great life, but it wasn't enough. He knew another level was within his reach if he was willing to do the work, play through the pain, make the sacrifices necessary to get there. If he failed, it would not be because he chose not to try.
Granger has gotten to a certain level. Can he get any better?