All December long the Back Home Again staff will be recounting the Top 25 Reggie Miller Moments of all-time as part of our “25 Days of Reggie.” The countdown will serve as a great way to get geared up for the start of the 2011 NBA season (and Christmas) as we remember and honor one of the NBA’s most clutch performers and the Indiana Pacers’ greatest player ever.
Welcome to the second day of our 25 Days of Reggie here at Back Home Again. Today we continue our countdown to Reggie Miller’s #1 moment and the beginning of the 2011 NBA season with the #24 Miller Moment.
For #24 we travel back to April of 1996. Only four games prior to the start of the playoffs Reggie suffered an injury to his eye socket. Reggie returned in time for the deciding Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks. Despite a 29 point performance from a goggle wearing Reggie Miller, the Pacers lost Game 5 to the Hawks and were eliminated from the playoffs.
Although Reggie looked super sweet in those goggles (like a skinny Horace Grant), the playoff loss was a tough pill for young Jack Carney to swallow. My only consolation was that Reggie had sent me an autographed photo earlier during the same week. I had written a “get-well soon” letter to Reggie and sent it to him while he was at St. Vincent’s Hospital recovering from eye surgery. I didn’t really expect anything in return, I was just a little kid with a bad case of Millermania. (Side note: you know you still have Millermania when you’re sitting in your pajamas in your college apartment writing a 25 day Reggie blog on a Friday night). To my surprise and great joy, Uncle Reg sent me back a photo with his John Hancock on it. What a guy!
This was just one of many stories that show Reggie wasn’t only an exceptional basketball player. He was also great with community involvement and philanthropy. In 1997 Reggie lost his home to a fire. Shortly afterwards, he started the Reggie Miller Foundation which raises money for young burn victims in Indianapolis. The foundation has raised over $600,000 since 1999. Reggie also used to host a charity bowling event every year called “Reggie Bowl.” He’s also been known to pop into children’s hospitals unannounced to hang out with the kiddos. After September 11th, Reggie donated $1,000 for every three pointer he made during the 2001 season to to a New York City fire company that lost eight men on that terrible day. Reggie was also a huge supporter of the NBA and its national partner Reading is Fundamental (the largest nonprofit literacy organization in the United States). In April of 2004, Reggie was formally recognized for all his charitable works with the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award.
In conclusion, Reggie Miller was THE MAN on and off the court.
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