“It’s a fun one. That’s all I have to say.”
This is what award-winning filmmaker Dan Klores said right before the screening of his upcoming film, “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks,” Monday night at the 57 Screening Room in Manhattan. Part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series, the film explores how Reggie Miller proudly built his legend as “The Garden’s Greatest Villain,” in a battle of teams and cultures as big as Sodom and Gomorrah.
Single-handedly crushing the hearts of Knick fans time and time again, Reggie made it a mission to perform under the bright lights of MSG. But the rivalry really all started at the 1985 NBA Draft – the first of the Lottery era – when the Knicks beat out the Pacers for the No. 1 pick. New York got Patrick Ewing, Indy got Wayman Tisdale.
At the time, current Knicks GM Donnie Walsh (a New York guy) was in Indy, and it was under his tutelage that the Pacers drafted Miller from UCLA, while the rest of the state wanted local hero Steve Alford from Indiana. Smart decision.
But while the film focuses on the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals that solidified Reggie as Public Enemy No. 1 in New York City, it’s some of the tales of his past that bring the movie to life. People often forget that it was actually his sister, Cheryl Miller, that was getting all the hype in the Miller household. There was one great story that Reggie reminisced when he was in the car after a game in which he dropped 60+ and was super amped talking to his dad and sister. Little did he know that Cheryl had just gone for over the century mark.
From Cheryl, Ewing and Donnie, to Larry Brown, Mark Jackson and Pat Riley, the film talks with all the key players involved. But none more important that Reggie’s nemeses John Starks and Spike Lee.
At one point, Spike recalls a bet that if the Knicks won, Reggie would have to go visit Mike Tyson while he was in prison in Indiana; if the Pacers won, he would get a role in one of his films.
We all know how the story ends between Reggie and the Knicks. With moments to go in Game 1, and facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit of 105-99, Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds to give the Pacers an astonishing victory. (A feat that Walsh surprisingly didn’t even see as he hid in the back room of his luxury suite.) It’s what you do in the winning time, that’s what matters. And this film exemplifies those moments.
The film premieres on ESPN on Sunday, March 14 at 9:00pm, right after the March Madness Selection Sunday results show.
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