Madison Square Garden, New York, February 26, 2005: “Re Geee! Re Geee! Re Geee!” The game between the Knicks and the Pacers is not over yet, as Reggie Miller is already celebrated. And not by the Pacers fans in the arena, but by the New York Knicks fans. The fact that Indiana’s Shooting Guard earned this honor on his last appearance in the MSG was clear to all spectators. Nevertheless, the applause is not self-evident – after all that Uncle Reg did to the Knicks. Miller is 53 years old today.
Reggie Miller is one of the best shooters in NBA history and maybe the best clutch player in basketball history. His fearless moves in the finals of the games became known as “Miller Time”. Larry Bird once told about Reggie: “When I think of Reggie Miller, I think of a man who was a complete professional.”
Reggie Miller was born on August 24, 1965, in Riverside, California. There was nothing to suggest that Reggie would become a basketball player or an athlete in general. Namely, his parents wondered if Reggie would ever walk normally. Reggie was born with a hip disorder, and they thought he could not even walk normally. By the fifth year, he had foot prostheses and orthopedic shoes.
“My mother cried when she gave birth to me. The doctors told her that I would never be able to walk and not even to think about doing sports.”, Reggie said. But as Reggie grew, his hips and legs began to be corrected. “My mother always told me that everything was fine and that I just had to strengthen my legs. They assured me that I would walk and run like brothers and I trusted them, “Reggie said.
Reggie was the fourth of a total of five children (three brothers and two sisters). Reggie’s oldest brother Saul Jr. is a musician (playing saxophone), brother Darrell was a professional baseball player, sister Tammy played volleyball at Cal State-Fullerton, and for sister Cheryl, who played basketball at Southern California (USC) University, is said to be the best female basketball player ever. She was a member of the American team who won the gold medal in Los Angeles at the 1984 Olympics. She took up the USC to two NCAA titles (1983 and 1984). It is a pity that the WNBA League did not exist at the time. Since the founding of the WNBA League in 1997, she was a head coach and GM of Phoenix Mercury, and a sportscaster today.
Reggie was a brilliant baseball player and that was his first love, but he eventually ended up playing basketball. He often played basketball with a year and a half older Cheryl, who did not give up on a basketball court, and who often won the games against Reggie. Miller, a former UCLA Bruin was selected with the 11th overall pick at the 1987 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. He spent his entire 18-year career there and became a legend.
At UCLA, he ranked fourth in the nation in scoring as a junior with 25.9 ppg and then averaged 22.3 ppg as a senior. At the time he was drafted, he also ranked second on the school’s all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But he was not welcomed as the Indiana fans desired Indiana University’s All-American guard Steve Alford. Nevertheless, for almost 20 years Reggie was a franchise player as well the face of the Pacers. His ability to deliver outstanding performance in key game situations is undisputed – though he could never put a championship ring on his finger.
Reggie is there a hero for eternity. He stood 1389 times for the Pacers on the floor. Only two other players wore the jersey of a single franchise so many times: John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz.
“Together with Michael Jordan, he’s the best clutch player the world has ever seen, a true athlete with a big heart, boundless will, and sacrificial commitment,” said Mark Jackson, Miller’s teammate in Indiana from 1994 to 1996.
Miller’s individual achievements trace the path of an extraordinary player: the 53-year-old was called up to the All-Star team five times and in 1994 he won the gold at the FIBA Basketball World Cup as the second-best scorer behind Shaquille O’Neal. Two years later, gold follows at the Olympics in Atlanta. In the all-time scoring list of the NBA Miller ranks on the 23rd place with 25.279 points. On September 7, 2012, Miller was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.