It’s fashionable nowadays for fans to get tossed out of the game after talking smack to players. The same thing was not true in the 90s. People sitting in the front row had free reign to say whatever they wanted to the players/. The difference was that both parties weren’t as soft as they are today. And instead of the fan, it was the player who got tossed. Just ask Samuel L. Jackson, who once got Reggie Miller booted out of the game.
A sticky situation
In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jackson admitted to heckling players back in the day. The Indiana Pacers legend was one of his targets. But unlike today’s fans who provoke the players into ejection, Jackson got Miller tossed out through a different method.
"I heckled a lot of people during that time. Reggie Miller. I got Reggie tossed out of the game once. He threw some gum and hit the referee in the back and the referee didn't see it. And I said 'Hey, Reggie Miller.' I ratted him out," Jackson said.
The incident definitely caused a scene especially given Miller’s reputation as one of the nastiest trash talkers in the game. Note that Miller played in the 90s when the likes of Michael Jordan, the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys, Charles Oakley, Dennis Rodman, Gary Payton, and other trash talk masters were lurking about.
It’s futile to say that their era was more brutal than today’s generation. But the clips back up this argument. Skill-wise, we can say that today’s era is a few levels above. But in terms of raw and unfettered emotion, Miller’s generation was built differently.
Miller was just one of Jackson’s targets back in the day. He also talked smack to none other than Steve Kerr when he was playing for the Chicago Bulls. Kerr was already regarded as one of the deadliest shooters then. But Jackson knew of a weakness he ratted out to Kerr’s foes.
"Steve Kerr. I would always tell whoever was guarding him to make him dribble because he couldn't shoot off the dribble. And he would always look around and say 'Yes I can. Prove it. Prove it,’” Jackson narrated.
Of course, Kerr isn’t really renowned for a bad mouth. But he and Michael Jordan had a couple of fist fights when they were teammates, so it’s not a good idea to mess with him either way.
It would be interesting to know to hear more of Jackson’s stories. You could tell in the interview that he was trying to dig up more narratives from his memory bank. For now, let’s just imagine Miller throwing gum at an unwitting referee.