We All Have Those "Miller Moments"
by Scott Agness
This weekend, two former Pacers will take center stage this weekend at the Naismith Hall of Fame as they join an illustrious group: The decorated ABA Champion Mel Daniels and Mr. Clutch, Reggie Miller.
Miller was already a few years into his NBA career when I was born, so everything I knew about the Pacers back then involved him. In Indianapolis, he was the guy that kids in my generation looked up to. It's a basketball state and the Pacers were the team of the city.
Prior to Miller's induction into the Hall of Fame, I thought it would be fitting, and fun, to recall some of my favorite memories involving the great No. 31.
- His first in, last player out work ethic.
- His durability: he played in at least 79 games in 13 of 18 seasons.
- The leadership he exhibited—vocally and by example.
- Being an almost guarantee at the free throw line; he averaged almost 88.8-percent at the line for his career (ninth all-time, just ahead of Larry Bird).
- The theatrics, because with Miller, there was an entertainment factor.
- The trash-talking. Yeah, you remember!
- Reggie being the guy you love because he was on your team, but would hate to play against.
- His antics in New York. He was Superman at Madison Square Garden.
- The exchanges with Spike Lee. Oh, so many. His game-winner in front of Lee's usual seat, the choke sign and eight points in 8.9 seconds immediately come to mind.
- Miller's patented leg-kick as he fired a three.
- Then, hearing "It's Miller Time!" from longtime Pacers Public Address Announcer Reb Porter (or "BOOM BABY!" from Slick on the radio).
- Having complete confidence in Reggie when the Pacers needed a bucket and nearly everybody, including the opposing team, knew it was going to him. And he'd hit it. Like he usually did.
- Sneaking off to my parents' bedroom to watch games on Channel 4. And if they'd come in, I'd slyly turn it off.
- Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller. What a sweet backcourt that was. 13 & 31.
- Miller playing with glasses after a scratched eye.
- Watching him shoot in pregame was a thing of beauty—swish after swish. He's the best shooter I have ever seen and help rebound for.
- Owning three different variations of his jersey and also sporting a replica of his No. 10 USA basketball jersey from the 1996 Olympics around with pride.
- The infamous shove on Michael Jordan at the top of the key followed by a dagger from three in game four of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. (Reggie jumping and spinning down the floor in celebration.)
- The Pacers run to the NBA Finals in 2000 against the Lakers. Oddly enough, I was at Steve Alford's basketball camp during much of the series and was sure to watch every minute of every game.
- The bank shot as time expired to force overtime in New Jersey during the 2002 playoffs.
- Buying tickets to one of his final games in a Pacers uniform to ensure seeing him live one last time. It was in the 2005 playoffs against the Pistons; a team that destroyed what many believed was a championship-caliber Pacers squad.
- Being glued to my television at home, watching Miller's touching speech after his last regular season home game. "For 18 years, I've truly been blessed. To be a Pacer and a Hoosier."
- I'll never forget how he went out. Pacers head coach Rick Carlise called a timeout to give Miller his due time. Pistons (and former Pacers) coach Larry Brown then called another to allow the special moment to continue. The entire Pistons bench gave Miller a standings ovation. True admiration.
- And most of all, the respect for the city he showed, playing all 18 seasons in Indianapolis.