After days of speculation, Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller made a clear cut decision about his future with the Indiana Pacers.
The 18-year veteran out of UCLA said on Friday after the Pacers suffered a 91-83 loss to the Houston Rockets at Conseco Field House he will retire at the end of the season.
As he said to reporters after the game, “I just believe it’s time. I’ve always said to you that when I felt this organization, this franchise, the players were able to take the next step; I think it would be time for me to move on. I really think the younger, players Fred (Jones), Stephen (Jackson), I think these are able, willing bodies to carry this franchise on.”
Miller who is averaging 11.8 ppg this season, the second lowest point total since his rookie year in 1987, originally announced his decision to retire on Thursday to his older sister and NBA on TNT sideline reporter Cheryl Miller. He also informed Pacers President and CEO Donnie Walsh and Head Coach Rick Carlisle on Thursday about his decision before it went public.
Miller did not want to make his announcement until the end of the season, but a TNT report from the prior week prompted the media in Indianapolis asking questions about Miller’s future with the Pacers.
Carlisle mentioned Miller’s decision to the team just before their morning shoot around.
“This is a decision that puts us 30- some games until (the end) of one of the great careers that we’ve ever seen in this league, not to mention this franchise,” he said, according to a story from the Pacers’ website, Pacers.com.
When the Pacers drafted him with the No. 11 pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, a lot of fans objected to the decision as they wanted the Pacers to take Indiana University star Steve Alford. Well, 18 years later, the Indianapolis fans are grateful of the decision that Walsh made in drafting the UCLA shooting guard.
When Miller joined the Pacers in 1987 according to nba.com, they had only two playoff appearances to their credit in 11 years in the NBA. When he retires at the end of this season, he will leave a team that has he helped lead to the post-season 14 times in the last 15 years, which includes five Eastern Conference Finals appearances and an appearance in the NBA Finals (2000). In his lone appearance in the NBA Finals against the eventual NBA Champions, the Los Angles Lakers, Miller averaged 24.3 points per game in six games. Indiana lost the series 4-2.
“I’m going to miss him an awful lot,” said Walsh, according to a report from nba.com. “He helped elevate this franchise in the NBA. On and off the court, he was a thorough professional and that spread throughout our team at various times in his career.”
In 18 years with the Pacers, Miller has had a number of individual accomplishments. He ranks as the No. 1 all-time leader in three-pointers made, currently at (2,506) and attempted (6,321). Miller also according to nba.com, is the all-time leader in scoring, assists in Pacers history and last year surpassed current TNT NBA Analyst Charles Barkley for the 14th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 24, 305 points. He also last year made over 100 three-point field goals in a season, which was an NBA record.
Larry Brown, who coached Miller for four seasons in the early 1990s feels he is the best shooter he has ever been around.
“If you needed one guy to make an outside shot, I don’t know if you could find anybody better,” said the Detroit Pistons head coach, according to a foxsports.com report.
Besides being ranked high in a number of all-time offensive statistics, Miller, according to NBA.com has played in more NBA contests in history with the same team than two other players. The dynamic duo of the Utah Jazz, guard John Stockton and Karl Malone are ranked higher. He was a five time all-star (1990, ’95, ’96, 98’ and 2000) and became the first Pacer in 1995 to start in an NBA All-Star Game.
He also made the All-NBA Third Team three times (1994-95, 1995-96 and 1997-98), was the leading scorer (17.1 ppg) and a tri-captain on the gold medal-winning U.S. Basketball Team at the 1994 World Basketball Championship in Toronto and was a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic Basketball “Dream Team II” at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA. Miller also was a part of the U.S. Basketball Team that played in the 2002 World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis, IN.
Miller’s rise as one of the best two guards in the league really started in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, when he, according to his biography on nba.com, scored 25 points in the fourth quarter, while exchanging words with movie director Spike Lee, who sat courtside.
Former Knicks center Patrick Ewing recalls that moment vividly, but said on Friday that moment does not compare to the one that happened a year later. The current Rockets assistant coach, according to an article from foxsports.com, remembers when Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds, hitting two three-pointers in the process turning a six-point deficit into a 107-105 Pacers victory over the Knicks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
“He’s a guy that when I played against him I wanted to smack him,” Ewing said, according to the Foxsports.com article. “But, all I can do is take my hat off to him.”
His work ethic and greatness in big moments have earned praise from not just the members of the front office, coaches and opponents, but from teammates as well.
“He’s had an amazing career,” Pacers forward Jermaine O’ Neal said according to an nba.com report. Miller’s teammate since 2001 also said, “If he does retire, we’re going to lose a great leader. I’ve got to pick it up and try to walk in his footsteps.”
Pacers forward Austin Croshere, Miller’s teammate for the past eight years, has praised Miller’s ability to hand the reigns of leadership to the likes of O’Neal and guard Jamaal Tinsley. “He’s a legend in this franchise and will not soon be forgotten,” Croshere said, according to nba.com.