Donnie Walsh Tribute to Reggie

April 14, 2005

By Donnie Walsh
CEO and President, Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Let me tell you something about Reggie Miller: When we selected him with the 11th pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, we thought we were getting a good player, but we had no idea this guy would become one of the best shooting guards in the history of basketball.

Think about that for a minute.

Reggie Miller, that skinny kid who some people said couldn't run, jump or stand up to NBA punishment, will end his career as not only the icon for our franchise, but as one of the best-ever at his position. He's the league's all-time leader in 3-pointers made and attempted, and nobody else is even close. He stands 12th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. And when you look at guards, he ranks third, behind only Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.

But his career was about a lot more than numbers. His competitive spirit, professionalism, class and leadership by example helped elevate this franchise to a whole new level in the NBA. Before he got here, the Pacers had been to the NBA playoffs twice in 12 seasons, eliminated in the first round both times. He leaves here not only with 15 playoff trips in his 18 seasons, but six trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and our only NBA Finals berth ever.

Along the way, he made some memories that will not only live in our memories, but those of basketball fans around the world. All you have to do is think back to his final game in Madison Square Garden earlier this month for evidence of the respect level he has earned. If anybody ever earned the privilege of being hated in New York, it's Reggie. He ripped out the hearts of Knicks fans so many times, you couldn't blame them for demonizing him. But when he was introduced, and again after the game, they gave him a standing ovation. Of course, maybe they were just glad to see him go.

He also made himself a big part of this community, putting down roots here and choosing to remain in Indiana when he could've taken opportunities to play on bigger stages. Very few players in the history of any sport have shown that kind of loyalty to a team, a city and its fans.

I know this: I'm going to miss Reggie an awful lot. And I know he's going to miss the Pacers fans. Even though he didn't get his ring – not yet, anyway – I think it goes without saying that we've never seen more of a champion, in every way, than Reggie Miller.