Reggie To Enter Pacers Pantheon Tonight
By Conrad Brunner
The final chapter of Reggie Miller's epic NBA career comes to a fitting end tonight when his No. 31 will be retired in a halftime ceremony at Conseco Fieldhouse during Indiana's game with the Phoenix Suns.
Miller will be present to address the crowd and hoist his banner into the rafters. Also participating in the ceremony will be Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Pacers Sports & Entertainment CEO and President Donnie Walsh. Miller will be joined by members of his family and other special guests, including former teammates. The game is sold out but portions of the ceremony will be shown by TNT, which is broadcasting the game.
“This is a truly deserving honor for Reggie,” said Walsh. “On and off the court, what he gave to this franchise, this city and this state for 18 years puts him among the elite athletes to have played professional sports. Number 31 in the rafters adds another legacy to the great tradition of Indiana basketball.”
Miller will join Roger Brown (No. 35), Mel Daniels (No. 34), George McGinnis (No. 30) and Bobby “Slick” Leonard (No. 529 representing his career coaching victories) as the fourth player and fifth person in franchise history to be so honored.
“Reggie gave the Indiana Pacers 18 years,” said Larry Bird, President of Basketball Operations. “He was a professional at all times and it was an honor to work with, coach and be around him. He will be missed.”
Miller was a five-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic Gold Medalist, is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pt FGM and 3-pt FGA and is 12th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Miller led the league in free throw percentage five times and ranks as the franchise leader in 13 statistical categories. Miller has also been recognized as a winner of the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Award and was named USA Weekend magazine’s Most Caring Athlete in 2002.
One portion of the day's festivities was canceled when the Indiana Department of Transportation scrubbed its plan to rename a stretch of U.S. 31 north of Indianapolis in Miller's honor. The IDOT learned that particular stretch of highway was named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway 12 years ago.
"While I appreciate the State of Indiana in its attempt to re-name a stretch of U.S. 31 in my name, I certainly respect and understand the feelings of the veterans involved," Miller said in a statement released by the Pacers. "Military veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our country carry a status we all should appreciate and honor.”
The highway department said it has no immediate plans to select a replacement road to name in Miller's honor.
Fans attending the game will receive a poster that is a replica of the banner that will hang in the rafters. In addition, a special edition of GameTime, the team's official program will feature photos and highlights of Miller's career as well as a one-of-a-kind pull-out poster.
Beginning today, fans will have the opportunity to purchase special hats, pennants and T-shirts featuring Miller, and a tribute book at Home
Court, as well as online at ConsecoFieldhouse.com. Additional items will be available Friday.