Reggie Miller stepped off his plane on Thursday and as he walked through Bradley International Airport, just outside Hartford, Conn., it hit him. He didn’t need the bright lights that will await him Friday night in Springfield, or seeing his picture hanging with the all-time greats. He felt it – he was a Hall of Famer.
“It’s already hit me trust me,” said Miller. “Emotionally I’ll probably be a wreck tomorrow.”
Miller spent all 18 seasons in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers and although he never won a title, he will go into the Hall of Fame as one of the game’s greatest clutch performers.
When Miller takes the Symphony Hall stage tonight, he will be joined by his presenters – Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, and his sister, Cheryl. The Millers become the first brother-sister combination to be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Without Cheryl’s accomplishments, hard work, and dedication to the game of basketball I don’t know if I would be on this stage,” said Miller.
“Early sibling rivalry, whether it be UNO, Monopoly, Risk, Dominoes, there was always that competitive fight, but there was so much respect there too.”
The competitiveness and work ethic was honed by both Millers, which was especially important for the younger Reggie, who wasn’t always a star on the hardwood.
“I felt because I was a late bloomer I had to work that much harder to stay on the court and it carried over to high school, to college, and to the professional ranks,” said Pacer great.
These were all contributing factors in one of the game’s best clutch shooters. The reputation began when Miller dropped 25 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals to beat the Knicks in Madison Square Garden 93-86. It only grew the following season in the Eastern Conference Semifinals when Miller had the legendary eight points in nine seconds to top New York, once again at MSG.
More and more clutch shots fall under Miller’s resume. When it came to winning time, Miller never shied away.
“You have to take the basic equation – it’s 50/50,” he said. “Either you’re going to make it or miss it. Now comes into effect, you’re work ethic. I put so much time getting to the gym, staying late, working on my game, and working on those shots. So now that 50/50 maybe goes to 60-65 percent in your favor because I put in the time and the hours, I’ve gone through this scenario in my head countless times and now I’m prepared for that moment. Now I believe the odds are more so in my favor that I’m going to be there hero as opposed to the goat.”
“I’ve probably missed more shots than I’ve made, they just show the shots that I’ve made. You have to have a short memory and that’s the key. You can’t worry about the shots you missed.”
Regardless of the setting or the moment, Miller refuses to name a favorite game or moment.
“I enjoyed the ride,” he said.
Miller joins the Hall of Fame along with former players Jamaal Wilkes, Chet Walker, Ralph Sampson, Katrina McClain and Mel Daniels, coaches Don Nelson and Lidia Alexeeva, referee Hank Nichols, the All American Red Heads, as well as contributors Don Barksdale and Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
What was Miller’s most clutch moment?
Follow Terrence on Twitter at @terrence_payne.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.