Tributes to Reggie ...
|... FROM PACERS COACHES PAST AND PRESENT|
“When I think about Reggie Miller, I think of a guy who was the total professional. He would go about his business every day. He would do what was necessary to prepare himself for a game. He was always on time, he watched film, he did everything he could to help his team win. You never had to worry about Reggie because he was always going to be there and do the right thing. It carried over into his game.
“He was a team player. He didn’t have to go out and score a lot of points every night. He played within the system and would excel. If he had things going and guys were setting picks for him, he would make plays. He didn’t have to score every night to be satisfied and to win.
“His range was always something that caught players off guard. If you guarded him at the 3-point line, that wasn’t good enough. All he needed was a couple inches and he could shoot from any distance.
“Reggie was wiry, but a lot stronger and tougher than he looks. I remember when he first came into the league, he came off the bench and you had to watch him. He was always around the ball, very aggressive as a player. You knew he would last a long time in this league.”
“I just want to congratulate Reggie Miller on a great career. He is as fine a competitor that I have ever been associated with. And when I say competitor, I'm not just talking about games - I'm talking about practices and his approach to the game. He is as respectful a teammate as I've ever been associated with. He cares about everybody and handles himself the right way.
"As much as I love this game and as many players as I have coached, Reggie will always be somebody that I will use as an example to other players. He is a leader because of his passion for the game, preparation and professionalism. Our game has benefited so much by his contributions throughout his career. We will miss having him out there on the court, but we'll never forget the contributions he has made to our sport.”
“To say that I have coached Reggie Miller would be inaccurate. I have had the best fortune to be the head coach of the Pacers during Reggie Miller’s final two years as a player. As an NBA coach, having veteran players is invaluable, having Reggie Miller has been priceless.
“It is irrefutable that Reggie’s achievements in this league have provided the Pacers and the NBA with some of its greatest moments. His career has been filled with heroics that have thrilled Pacers fans and garnered the reluctant respect of fans around the league. His game-winning highlights are for the ages, but represent a very small part of Reggie’s contributions.
“His longevity is not only a tribute to his talent but to his unyielding commitment. No shooting guard in the history of our league has or ever will play at Reggie’s consistently high level for a period approaching two decades. He has been meticulous in his approach to being an athlete and dedicated to doing whatever benefits the team.
“He has spent his entire career in one city which, like Reggie himself, is a rarity. He is not from Indiana but is adored like a native son. Not surprisingly, the person he is off the court transcends even his on-court achievements. His example challenges us to be better. He has made Indianapolis and Indiana a better place. Knowing him has enriched our lives.
“I would never say that I ‘coached’ Reggie Miller, but it has been my distinct privilege to work with him.”
“He not only loved basketball, he loved to practice basketball, always adding something positive to his game in the summer. He loved winning and always played to win. He matured into a player who wanted to take the big shot and take the responsibility for the results. He was always a good teammate, who was a committed player and easy to coach. More importantly, he is a good friend who was a positive influence on all three of my sons and who was a positive influence on the Indianapolis community and the state of Indiana.
“Thanks to the Pacers’ brass for having the courage to draft this skinny player out of UCLA when it wasn’t the most popular decision in Indiana. They were right on the money.”
“Prior to meeting Reggie, I had the pre-conceived notion that he would be one of those "Hollywood brats." Instead, I found him to be more of a small-town kid, a salt-of-the-earth type; it was obvious that he came from a good family background.
“Reggie was always great to coach. He was always a hard worker, from Day One. He was bright, very coachable, a quick study, and, of course, talented.
“He is best known for his three-point shooting and his competitive drive (who can ever forget some of his amazing exploits in the clutch), but what I appreciated him more for were other qualities, qualities one would see off the court. I had two young sons, who were at a very impressionable age, when Reggie joined the Pacers. Reggie was always so good with them, almost like a big brother. He always had time for them, and he was such a good, positive role model for them.
“As a parent, I have always appreciated the role model he was, and how thoughtful he was of them, but his thoughtfulness did not stop with my kids. Reggie was always thoughtful of others, no matter how big of a star he became. He always had time for others.
It is easy to admire his basketball abilities and all he has accomplished, and rightfully so. However, I admire much more who Reggie Miller is as a person, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know that person.
“It was a privilege to coach and watch Reggie out on the floor, but it has been an honor to be able to have him as a friend. It is going to be strange not to have a Reggie Miller out there in his Pacer uniform. It's a loss for the Pacers, and for the entire NBA. Thank you Reggie for all you have done, and thank you for being you.”
“As coach of the Pacers in 1987, I felt the team's greatest need was at shooting guard and regarded Reggie Miller as the best player in the college draft at that position - an opinion shared by team president, Donnie Walsh. In our pre-draft meetings, there was concern expressed about Reggie's durability because of his lean physical frame. But nonetheless, on draft day, the Pacers selected Reggie with the 11th pick of the first round. Soon after the draft, I made a trip to Los Angeles to watch Reggie go through his daily workout routine. I was impressed by his wiry strength and stamina, and came away convinced that Reggie would have no problem in adjusting to the physicality of the NBA game and the rigors of the schedule.
“Reggie more than lived up to my expectations. He's has proved his mental and physical toughness again and again. Going into his 18th NBA season, he had missed only 39 games. Miller, one of the game's greatest shooters, has developed into a complete player - a tenacious defender, a patient worker in the team's offense, a steady handler of the ball, and without a peer moving without it to get open. He has established himself as one of the all-time great clutch shooters.
“Reggie Miller is the consummate team player . . . he is a fierce competitor; he brings his full energy to every game and practice; he puts winning first, and does whatever it takes to make that happen. He is loved by his teammates and coaches and feared by the opposition. I am proud to have been a part of his basketball life.”
"The greatest thing about Reggie was his work ethic. The time he put in to continue to get better, even later in his career, was amazing. I don't think I've ever seen anybody work harder at shooting the basketball than Reggie did. He'd shoot before and after practice. He shoots, he shoots. People ask why Tiger Woods is so good - it's because he practices. Reggie shoots. That is probably the greatest legacy he will leave behind for all the guys who are coming and will come after him. Be like Reggie. Practice, practice hard. It was a great honor to be around the player and the man, and he will be missed by all of us."
“Reggie is a great person as well as a talented player with a lot of class. He has become a great basketball player because of talent, obviously, but a tremendous work ethic. He’s here early, he stays late, he’s always working on his game. His work ethic alone allowed him to have an outstanding career. It has been an honor to be his teammate and his friend.”
“The first thing I remember about Reggie was when he got drafted and everybody booed. That was a sign right there. The next thing is we all knew he was a shooter, but the first game he played he was on a one-on-one fast break and pulled up about 5 feet past half court to shoot. The coaches looked at us like, ‘What the hell is he doing?’ So we knew right then he could shoot.
“Early in his career Chuck (Person) and I were working with him on driving to the basket. He was like a sponge, you told him something and he soaked it up and learned how to do it. In the off-season he went home to L.A., came back and was driving to the basket, shooting that little floater. I think the only guy in his prime who shot more free throws than him was Michael Jordan, so Reggie proved he was more than a jump shooter.
“He’s just a great player. The things he did against the Knicks . . . he has to be one of the greatest clutch shooters to ever play the game. When you need a shot, he could get it and he could make it. You could see it in his eyes. You knew it was going down.
“Reggie is a great player, a great teammate and a great friend. If he doesn’t make the Hall of Fame, there’s something wrong with the game. They should tear the place down if he isn’t in it. But I’m pretty sure he’ll be in it.
“I’m sure everybody on this team is learning a lot from him because there is no one in the league, none of these young guys, who will ever work as hard as he worked.”
“Along with Michael Jordan, I believe he’s the greatest clutch player we have ever seen. He is a true professional with unbelievable heart, desire and dedication. He’s a great friend, he was a great teammate and true blessing, not just to Indiana basketball, but to basketball throughout the world.”
“Reggie is a definite Hall of Fame player, but more importantly, he is a Hall of Fame person. He was the best teammate ever and I love him. He is the truest representation of a professional and of one’s loyalty to an organization.”
“He came in with a lot less fanfare than a lot of guys that have gone on to the Hall of Fame. He was one of those John Stockton types that came in without much expectation of being a great player but through hard work he made himself into just that. To see him grow from coming off the bench behind John Long to becoming one of the great players ever to play that position – and overall, period – it’s great to see a player of such integrity and character go through 18 years with the same organization without a blemish on his record.”
“You all know about Reggie Miller, the player, and his numbers are Hall of Fame worthy. I could go on and on and I’m sure he’d like me to do just that, but I’d rather tell you about Reggie Miller the person. Reggie is a warrior. He’s a competitor who plays as hard now as he did in his rookie season, a competitor who plays until the final buzzer sounds, as the Knicks found out in the ’95 playoffs. He’s a competitor who wants the ball on the final possession, who wants to take that final shot. And, quite honestly, who else would you want the ball to go to with the game on the line?”
“Reggie is a leader. He’s one of the first to arrive at practice, one of the last to leave. How many Pacers have become better basketball players simply because they spent time in the same locker room and on the same court with Reggie Miller?
“Like everybody else, the end-of-game situations were the most memorable for me. There was never any doubt who was going to get the ball. He was a phenomenal clutch player. He was good when I played with him, but watching him in the years afterward, he just kept getting smarter and better.”
“I've known Reggie for a very long time as a teammate and opponent, and I consider him to be one of most fierce competitors that I have ever been around. When he came into this league, we all knew he was a great shot-maker, but no one could have guessed that he would be as great as a player as he was. His hard work at practice and in games paid off. I will always consider him to be a true professional - always ready to play, night-in and night-out.”
"Reggie Miller, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was the quintessential professional basketball player. Nobody plays this game, at that level, for as long as he has, without doing the things necessary to be great. He was a hard-working, conditioned professional basketball player and I had nothing but the highest respect for him. The years that New York and Indiana, and Miami and Indiana in particular, competed against one another, he was the one that put the most fear in me as a coach."
“I've admired Reggie a great deal over the years I've watched him play because he's a guy that has gotten as much out of his talent as anybody that's played and still enjoys playing. After a guy plays 18 years, you look at 'em and a lot of times they’re a little bit bored but he still has great enthusiasm for the game and works very hard to do the things that he's always done. He's as good as I've ever seen at coming off the baseline screens and catching the ball and shooting it which seems simple, but trying to teach people to do it … he's made it a real art.
"Being with the same franchise 18 years gives you leadership and leadership is hard to come by in this league. You have so many guys that would like to be leaders but not many of them are really interested in the organization. I was fortunate to have two guys (Karl Malone and John Stockton) and to watch Reggie stay here, I know he had a couple of contract things that came up in his career but he stayed here and the Pacers kept him here. It's important to the organization to have continuity with as many players as possible."
JEFF VAN GUNDY
"Obviously, it’s well-documented how he played in the biggest moments and in the biggest games. But just as telling to me is his routine before the game: every night, same thing, ready to play. And also how he has willingly sacrificed some of his game for the betterment of the team. He’s had a lot of great moments – some great, some not-so-great against us. But what I’ve always liked about him is he never shied away from taking shots and living with being a goat or a hero.”
"He's the kind of guy, when you play against him, you want to smack him. But when you play with him, you have his back. You have the utmost respect for him. He came out, he played hard and he did what he needed to do to help his team win. Reggie has had an outstanding career. We’ve had our battles, we’ve had our wars. I have utmost respect for him."
"When I think of Reggie Miller, I think of one of the greatest competitors who ever played the game. Fearless, heart, my first playoff series loss, greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the game, Hall of Famer.
"The thing I remember about Reggie the most - just getting past Indiana. They knocked us out of the playoffs two years in a row and being able to knock him out in the third year. We felt like if we got past Indiana we could beat anybody. We didn't win it all, but we got to the Finals in 2000-01. We felt if we could beat them, we could beat anybody, and that made it easier for us in the other two series."
"People here (in the United States) don’t realize how famous Reggie Miller is in China. People think that it’s all Michael Jordan back home; but people watch him (Miller) just as much. I remember watching him against Jordan in the 1998 Eastern Conference Championships. So there is another player that they follow. He was so quick at that time. He could get his shot off before you knew it. Plus, he was so skinny and I think that’s why people were drawn to him.”
“I think Reggie Miller represents the true meaning of professionalism. I never envisioned 19 years ago I would feel as strongly about someone leaving this organization as strongly as I feel about Reggie. I never thought about him retiring here. He’s probably one of the most misunderstood young men to ever grace a Pacers’ uniform and one of the most talented. I was fortunate to be part of the draft that brought him here. It will be my measured displeasure to see him leave because I’m one of three people who actually can say he has represented this organization at a level that is unparalleled. Indiana Pacers and Reggie Miller mean the same thing. I was fortunate enough to be part of the group that laid the foundation. Reggie Miller has kept the structure in place and hopefully his legacy and the things he brought to this organization will be forever appreciated by the fans he loves so dearly.
“It would be an honor for me, Roger, George and Slick Leonard (all have retired jerseys) and all the other Pacers who have played before and with him to have his number retired alongside the three aforementioned ballplayers and coach. We will share eternity together.”
RUSS GRANIK, NBA Deputy Commissioner
“Reggie, I don't know how you can say that you're going to retire and then go out and score 39 points, it doesn't seem quite right. We're all going to miss you here, I'm going to miss you a great deal just as a fan. You've been one of the great players to watch in this game and also been one of the terrific guys in this league over a lot of years. All that you've done for the Pacers, for USA Basketball, you've made a great contribution and I look forward someday to seeing you in Springfield. Wish you all the best Reggie.”
BILLY KING, Former Pacers Assistant Coach
“Reggie should go in the dictionary for consummate pro. To have had the chance to coach him was a pleasure, but to call him my best friend is even better.”
BOB "SLICK" LEONARD
“For me, after 18 years with Reggie, it’s like watching one of your kids grow up and fly the nest. Yes, they’ll retire his number and, yes, he’ll go into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. But for me, you’ll never be able to replace him in my heart or the heart of Pacers fans everywhere.”
BRIAN McINTYRE, NBA Senior Vice President, Basketball Communications
“It seems like just yesterday that you wore the Pacer jersey for the first time. It's appropriate that in 1987 one of the top movies was Lethal Weapon. That's how opposing teams came to view you. You created more sleepless nights for opponents than a 2 a.m. pepperoni pizza, Mr.Three-Pointer with one of the quickest releases in NBA history.
“I was fortunate enough to work with you over the years--countless playoff series, the 2000 NBA Finals, two World Championship tours and the 1996 Olympics--and saw first hand how hard you worked at your craft. Dedication, discipline, commitment, leadership. And an unbelievable competitive fire.
“Thanks for all the memories and what you gave to our game. You gave it all. And that is a heck of a legacy to leave.”
CRAIG MILLER, USA Basketball Assistant Executive Director
“Reggie Miller is the definition of the consummate professional. In representing his country and USA Basketball at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 1994 and 2002 FIBA World Championships, Reggie did so each time with class and distinction. He always brought his love for the game, respect for his teammates and opponents, and a level of commitment and professionalism which no doubt greatly aided the popularizing of the sport of basketball worldwide.”
DAVID STERN, NBA Commissioner
"Reggie, you've not only been with the Pacer organization for 18 years bringing great pride to the community and pride to the NBA, you've been an Olympian, you've been a mentor to young players, you've been a community outreach person for the NBA. In a few words, you've been everything that an NBA player could be. So on behalf of your fans, literally around the world, thank you for what you've meant to the NBA, congratulations on being the great player and bringing the great excitement and pleasure you've brought and we all wish you the best in your retirement.”
JIM TOOLEY, USA Basketball Executive Director
“USA Basketball is proud that the only other jersey Reggie Miller wore the past 18 years besides the blue and gold of the Pacers is the red, white and blue of his country. Reggie represented USA Basketball in the 1994 World Championship, 1996 Olympic Games and the 2002 World Championship. He is not only a World Champion gold medalist and Olympic gold medalist, but also a class act. Reggie was a great ambassador for USA Basketball and the sport of basketball.”