Memories of Miller's Time Return to the Garden

by Mark Montieth Writer

It's one of the most famous moments in the history of the NBA playoffs, sure to live on for eternity in video clips: Reggie Miller scoring eight points in an 8.9-second glance in Game 1 of the Pacers' second-round playoff series with New York on May 7, 1995, leading a miraculous comeback victory.

The scab on the wound of Knicks fans will be picked at again tonight, when Miller sits courtside as a broadcast analyst for Game 2 of the Pacers' second-round series at Madison Square Garden. It just happens to be the 18th anniversary of his feat, creating a tidy harmonic convergence for the unlikely sequence immortalized in the ESPN documentary, Winning Time.

"You know how they talk about the basketball gods?" Miller told the New York Times. "This is from the basketball gods."

Not as far as Knicks fans are concerned, though. Miller surely will be booed and heckled as he takes his seat to work the game with Kevin Harlan. He's been hearing their complaints for the past 18 years, and no doubt loving every minute of it, just as he loved terrorizing them with other postseason heroics in the Garden throughout his 18-year NBA career.

Most of the current Pacers, however, are only vaguely aware of Miller's barrage in the opening game of the series the 1995 Pacers won in seven games. David West, the oldest Pacer, was a 14-year-old kid in New Jersey at the time. He wasn't a hard-core Knicks fan, preferring the more geographically desirable Nets, but he absolutely did not like the Bulls, and he figured the Knicks had the better chance of eliminating the Bulls. As it turned out, Chicago lost to the Orlando Magic, who defeated the Pacers on their way to the Finals.

"I do remember that game," West said. "I remember the radio station the next morning was just killing the Knicks. Just killing the Knicks. It was rough."

George Hill was three days past his ninth birthday when Miller erupted, and has no distinct memories of it beyond the fact the Pacers won. He was asked following Tuesday morning's shootaround if he could imagine anyone doing something similar today.

"I did on the video game one day," Hill said. "I don't know. I could see (Golden State's Steph) Curry going through something like that the way he's been shooting the ball. As a player, everybody says they can do it. I'm sure Roy (Hibbert) says he can do it if you ask him. It's a tough thing to do, so you tip your hat to Reggie for what he meant to this organization. But that's in the past and it's a new basketball game right now. Hopefully, we don't have to get to that situation."

It could be regarded as a reflection of the Pacers' balance that they don't have such a player. Their offense is more balanced than that of the '95 team, as was indicated in their Game 1 victory on Sunday, when all five starters scored between 11 and 20 points.

Coach Frank Vogel, who watched Miller's feat from Lexington, Ky., where he was a student and assistant video coordinator for the basketball team, raised the question of which of his players would be most capable of such an outburst.

"It would probably be eight points in 8.9 seconds, but with three different scorers," he said.

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