Whether you are convinced that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time or not, one thing certain is that “His Airness” dominated the competition during his prime. In the process, MJ grew his fanbase and made friends with some of his contemporaries.
However, when Jordan’s dominance prolonged, he also put together a list of bitter rivals. One of the names on it - Reggie Miller.
A competitor to the bone
Both Jordan and Miller quickly made an impact on their respective teams early in their NBA careers. In just their third season in the league, both shooting guards recorded their career-highs in scoring.
However, MJ’s 37.1 points per game in ‘87 evidently dwarfed Miller’s 24.6 in ‘90. Nevertheless, Miller never let any of it get into his head. Instead, he constantly gave Jordan a tough battle inside the court whenever the Pacers took on the Chicago Bulls during their primes.
While such rivalries were inevitable at the time, Miller and Jordan’s were quite different as they happened to have some sort of animosity between them. Shockingly, “Uncle Reg” still carries it to this day.
In fact, Miller confessed in a past interview that he never wanted to be featured in Jordan and the Bulls’ famous docuseries, ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”
According to Miller, he didn’t want to be a part of it as the documentary takes him back to his “bad memories” with MJ. Moreover, he was just not one of those players who could look back and admit that Jordan was ahead of them.
“For those of us who actually lived it and played against him, trying to compete with him, didn’t need to watch the doc [The Last Dance] to know,” Miller said on The Dan Patrick Show in 2020. “It brings back a lot of good and bad memories of going against that dude [Jordan]. I tried to fight it. I didn’t want to do it. [But] I had everybody from the league office saying ‘you need to be a part of this.’”
“I was never on the same footing as MJ but I loved the battles. And I know a lot of players that I have played against, they would bow down to him and that just was not going to be me. It was not in my nature to do that.”
Reggie Miller, The Dan Patrick Show
We are fortunate to be delighted by the epic duels of Jordan and Miller inside the basketball court. However, we may never get to see both legendary players become pals outside of it.