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.
March 18, 2005: Just over a month after Reggie Miller had announced that he would retire from the NBA at the end of 2004-2005 season, he reminded everyone that he still had a little magic left in the tank. Miller was old at this point, ancient by professional sports’ standards. At the age of 39, Reggie had been thrust back into the limelight during his final season, probably the strangest season ever for the Indiana franchise. Earlier in the 2004-2005 campaign, the Pacers had been involved in one of the most disgraceful moments in NBA history: “The Brawl,” “The Throwdown in
Motown,” “The Malice in the Palace,” whatever you want to call it – it was awful. The unbelievable altercation started with a hard retaliation foul from the Pistons’ Ben Wallace* and resulted in nine players being suspended for a total of 146 games. Indiana starters Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Ron Artest would all be suspended for ultra long stretches of time. The Pacers would once more have to turn to Uncle Reggie to carry the team through this turbulent season.
And Miller did just that. Reggie increased his scoring production throughout the season, but his 39 point performance (highlights of which can be seen here) against Kobe and the Lakers might have been his best of the year. It was his highest point output since scorching the Milwaukee Bucks (and the great Ray Allen) for 41 points in November of 2000 (4 1/2 years prior). As you can see from the highlights, it looked like Reggie had rewound the clock back to 1994. He flew off screens to knock down long range jumper after long range jumper. He completely dominated the entire game outplaying Kobe Bryant who finished with a mere 12 points. The Pacers lead by 15 at one point in the second half, but to their credit the Lakers fought back. With Indiana’s lead down to 2 with only a minute to play, everyone and mama (as Spike Lee would say) knew where the ball was going. Reggie buried a Boom Baby triple in the corner, and the crowd went wild – a familiar scene in Indiana. Miller would then make 6-out-of-6 free throws in the final 24 seconds to close out the game. It was vintage Reggie Miller in its purest form. In March of 2005, Reggie dusted off his Superman cape for one last show – well deserving of the #14 Miller Moment.
As Reggie would say, “I don’t care how old I get, give me the ball.”
Email us your favorite Miller Moments to bhamailbag.gmail.com.
*As a footnote, I’d like to add how much I regret and loathe what happened in The Palace back in 2004. I honestly think that it might have cost Reggie a ring or at least a legitimate final shot at one. The Pacers were loaded that year and poised to tear through the Eastern Conference. In “The Brawl” game they were destroying the defending champion Pistons before the fight broke out. Artest was on track to have a career year and so was O’Neal. If Ben Wallace hadn’t thrown a temper tantrum like a 3-year-old-child and that moron hadn’t thrown his drink onto the court……. who knows what could have happened that year. The moment that jackass chucked his beer, the Indiana Pacers franchise that I had known growing up died. It’s only now, 7 years later, that we’ve finally begun to show signs of life. 7 years of Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Sarunas Jasikevicius, and T.J. Ford – I’ll never forgive Ben Wallace, that idiot in the stands, Metta World Peace, and all of Detroit for ruining my beloved franchise and denying Reggie a championship. If you need me, I’ll be sobbing into my Rik Smits jersey for the rest of the evening.