Reggie Miller, the star of a frequently competitive Indiana Pacers squad in the 90’s, will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year. Miller played for the Pacers for his entire 18-year career, leading his team to the NBA Finals once and the Eastern Conference Finals numerous times. Miller was never able to win himself a ring, losing to Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers in 2000, but his battles with the New York Knicks in the 90s, his crunch time play, and his ability to take over games and demoralize opponents with 3-pointers will never fade and make this a well-deserved induction.
Miller’s legacy has a slight blemish in that he never won a championship, but his determination, competitive fire, pure shooting ability and many memorable clutch performances will ensure that Indiana’s most beloved basketball superstar stands the test of time. Most memorable were Miller’s intense battles with Patrick Ewing’s Knicks in the mid-90s, which included two of his most historic moments. The first came in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, when Miller swung momentum back to the Pacers with an incredible shooting performance in Game 5, leading Indiana with 39 points, 25 of which came in the fourth quarter. Miller’s performance and animated trash-talking with Spike Lee was on the NBA’s most memorable trash-talking sequences of all time, as Lee’s taunting pumped Miller up and set off the incredible hot streak that buried the Knicks. Unfortunately, the Pacers were unable to finish New York off and lost in seven games.
Miller’s other incredible performance came in Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which Miller miraculously scored eight points in 8.9 seconds to give Indiana an improbable win in Madison Square Garden. With 18.9 seconds left, Miller hit a three to cut New York’s lead to 105-102, stole the inbounds pass, backed up and hit another three to tie it. Indiana’s Sam Mitchell made the poor decision of fouling John Starks to send him to the free throw line, but Starks and all of Madison Square Garden were so stunned it was no surprise that he missed them both. Miller eventually got the rebound and was fouled with 7.5 seconds left, sank both free throws, and gave the Pacers one of the most unlikely and impossible last-minute wins in NBA history. Miller and his Indiana team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, but lost to the Orlando Magic.
Miller had many other significant moments, such as his game-winner against Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in Game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals (the Pacers took the Bulls to Game 7 and gave them everything they wanted before Jordan won his final title) and his heroic performance against the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 2002 playoffs (a ridiculous 3-point bank shot to send the game to overtime and a dunk over three Nets to send it to double-overtime). Miller received the respect of his teammates even near the end of his career, most evident when Pacers’ star Jermaine O’Neal agreed to be taken out of a game with 1:43 on the clock after scoring 55 points against the Bucks in order to preserve Miller’s franchise record of 57 points. Miller remained a go-to guy at crunch time and became a great NBA commentator for TNT. He held the record for most 3-point field goals in league history (2,560) before Ray Allen broke it in 2011.
Miller will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with coach Don Nelson, four-time NBA champ Jamaal Wilkes, and Ralph Sampson.