As so-called super teams are becoming the norm in the NBA, a player's loyalty becomes a commendable trait. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is arguably the most talked about active player advocating loyalty in the league. But before Dame, there was Indiana Pacers icon Reggie Miller as a great example of that.
Loyalty isn't only about the team
As most will recall, Miller was active during an era when individual accomplishments were as important as the team's glory. Super teams did not exist, and fans idolized their beloved star players. That was Miller's case with Indiana.
According to Uncle Reg, the "fans' perspective" should always be taken into account whenever we talk about loyalty. Miller stressed that fans play a huge role, especially for small market teams, and that's why it's important that players let them know they are competing for them.
Miller cited LeBron James' bold decision to leave Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat and then opting to make an epic return to the Cavs as an example. For Miller, James did the right thing when he came back to Cleveland since a superstar of his stature always makes a small market team's "overall brand great."
"People need to understand the fans' point of view, especially in small markets…in my case, Indiana," Miller told Andscape in 2016. "We all can't play in New York, Chicago, Miami, L.A., and big markets. That's why I was critical of LeBron [James] for going to Miami but so happy when he came back to Cleveland. To have your biggest and baddest dudes in small markets like the Cavs having LeBron…it just makes the overall brand great. I have no problem with people changing teams, but I'm approaching this from the fans' perspective, that's all."
Miller spent his entire NBA career with the Pacers. Season after season, Reg left his heart on the court. And though Miller wasn't able to bring the championship to Indiana, he knows the Pacers faithful valued his loyalty.
"Those fans, they live and die through everything you do," Miller added. "...My whole purpose for those 18 years was to try to win a championship for those suffering fans, for that small market. Because it means so much."
Miller is one of the few NBA all-time greats who never switched teams, and he is loved by many for it. As for LeBron, too bad loyalty will not be part of his legacy.