Ex-Pacer Reggie Miller Highlights 2012 Pro-Basketball Hall Of Fame Class
SI’s Phil Taylor revisits Reggie Miller’s historic NBA career as the Indiana Pacers legend enters the Basketball Hall of Fame:
For old times’ sake, here’s how it should go when Reggie Miller is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night. As he walks up to the podium, he should flash a choke sign at Patrick Ewing, “accidentally” bump Michael Jordan and intentionally catch his leg on Joe Dumars’ chair to make it look like he was tripped. A video of highlights of his 18-year career should be playing, with a soundtrack of Pacers fans chanting “REG-GIE, REG-GIE,” intermingled with the boos and catcalls from fans of all the teams he bedeviled through the years.
Everyone around him should be a little annoyed, a little amused and generally stirred up, because that’s the atmosphere in which Miller thrived throughout his career, the one he created and used to drive him toward the Hall. He was a deadeye shooter and a cold-blooded clutch player, but as much as anything, Miller was a magnificent irritant who seemed to draw energy from his opponents’ frustration. His most memorable talent may have been his ability to worm his way under the skin of everyone except the Indiana fans who made a skinny Southern California kid one of the heartland’s favorite sons.
He was theatrical and showy and made no bones about playing with the proverbial chip on his shoulder (wouldn’t you, if the world kept reminding you that your big sister, Cheryl, reached basketball stardom before you did?). At some point, unless you were a Pacers fan, you probably said to yourself, “I hate that guy,” maybe because he had just stuck a three-point shiv in your team’s heart and then bowed to the crowd, or suckered a ref into calling a foul by kicking his leg out into the defender on his jumper and tumbling to the deck. But you said it with a grudging smile because darn it, this cocky bag of bones was tougher than he looked, and shrewd and endlessly entertaining, and you couldn’t help but appreciate that.
Even Spike Lee, whom Miller famously taunted and tormented, couldn’t work up a full-on hatred. Lee always seemed to understand that it was all part of the show, even when Miller had the upper hand — never more so than in his signature moment, the eight-points-in-8.9-seconds miracle he pulled off to steal a playoff game from Lee’s beloved Knicks at Madison Square Garden in 1995. That game was the perfect companion piece to his 25-point fourth quarter in a comeback victory at New York in the 1994 playoffs, and together those performances gave Miller a national identity and put him on the Hall of Fame track. That’s when we found out how much he loved to be hated. He particularly enjoyed playing in front of hostile New Yorkers, he said, “because I love how they dog me out.” He never won a championship, true, but after breaking hearts on Broadway, no one could ever say that hole in his résumé was because Miller faded in the big moment. In fact, he lived for them, his confidence overflowing. “The flowers are in bloom, the trees are green, spring is upon us and the playoffs are here,” he once said as another postseason approached. “That means it’s Miller time.”
Posted on September 9, 2012, in NBA and tagged Basketball Hall Of Fame, Indiana Pacers, Reggie Miller. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Ex-Pacer Reggie Miller Highlights 2012 Pro-Basketball Hall Of Fame Class.