BHA’s 25 Days of Reggie, #15 – Reggie’s Greatest Fights

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.

I’m very glad to be writing this post specifically because I feel it’s a prominent part of Reggie’s legend.  We’ve already talked a few times about Reggie’s ability to get into the heads of his opponents, many times the best player on the opposing team.  People loved Reggie when he was on their side.  People despised Reggie when he was playing against them.  Several factors are involved in this:  His acting ability, his loud mouth, his provocative gestures, and his ability to back up his talk with performance on the court.  Only a few times in his 18-year career, though, did Reggie provoke an opponent enough for him to lose his cool and come to fisticuffs.  Here are the top four.

Matt Geiger, Game 4, 2000 Conference Semifinals

Although Matt Geiger isn’t the big name like Starks, Bryant, and Jordan, this fight came in the Conference Semifinals of the 2000 playoffs, so it is a very memorable moment for Pacers fans.   Basically what happened from my perspective is that Reggie was slammed to the ground for the second time in the game by Geiger.  Reggie got up and got a clean open hand across Geiger’s face, and both players were ejected from the game and suspended for Game 5.  Now, common sense would tell Reggie that he had no business fighting with a mammoth like Geiger, but as the picture shows, Reggie had plenty of backup:  Namely Dale Davis and Antonio Davis.  I’d feel pretty comfortable doing whatever I want with those two behind me.  Notice Rik Smits is nowhere to be found.

John Starks, Game 3, 1993 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Ever wonder what started the Pacers/Knicks rivalry?  Yep, this is it.

Starks refused to shake Reggie’s hand before the game, so Reggie targeted him all game.  Trash talk was at an all-time high, and John Starks was not the type of guy to stay above all that.  Starks was the perfect target for Reggie’s arsenal:  An important player who lets his emotions dictate his whole game, and also doesn’t back down from a fight.  Reggie ate him up, and it led to perhaps the most famous headbutt besides this.

Kobe Bryant, Regular Season Game, March 1st, 2002

This might be my favorite fight footage of the group.  I couldn’t find much information on how this fight came to happen, and I can’t remember off the top of my head what it was, but apparently Kobe drained a shot in Reggie’s eye when the game was already over with, and that must have set Reggie’s mouth off.  Anyways, it made for some great footage, especially when you see big Austin Croshere with a stretched up jersey looking like a hoss.  Kobe and Reggie had some pretty good match ups over the years, probably starting in the 2000 Finals.  Kobe also once named Reggie as the toughest player to guard in his career.

Michael Jordan, Regular Season Game, 1993

This is probably my favorite fight of them all because of who it involves.  Michael Jordan, the epitome of drive, intensity, and focus, let’s Reggie get the best of him for a moment and tries to rip Reggie’s face off.  Granted, Reggie did shove MJ after his put-back, and lots of guys would have probably done something similar, but just to know that the greatest of all time wasn’t immune to Reggie’s arsenal of head games is cool to ponder.

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About Zach Haselhorst

Social Studies teacher at a Catholic High School. Recent graduate of Purdue University. Degrees in political science and social studies education. My fanhood and bias rests with the Pacers, Colts, Cubs, and Boilers. I also enjoy following politics and reading about American history.
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