This past week the Basketball Hall of Fame released the finalists for the 2011 class. The list was a who’s who of people that made great contributions to the game of basketball. The list, upon first review, looks to be solid with one omission: Reggie Miller, who everyone thought was a lock to make it into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Reggie Miller is the first player to suffer from the utter domination of the Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s. There are many players that did not receive championship rings during that time that have made it into the Hall of Fame (Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Patrick Ewing immediately come to mind). However, none of those players were unfortunate enough to play the same position as Michael Jordan. Reggie Miller was, and as a result, history has diminished him into nothing but a shooter. That could not be farther from the truth. While he was one of the league’s best shooters, the reality is, he was the heart and soul of the Pacers teams and without him they would have faded into relative obscurity.
Reggie was indeed a good shooter. But Reggie worked hard for his shot, he would never have been considered a spot up shooter. Reggie averaged over 36 minutes a game in his career and if you ever watched him play he ran around the court the entire 36 minutes fighting off screens and taking shots. Defending Reggie Miller required quickness and endurance because he was in constant motion. This is remarkable considering he never weighed over 185 lbs, didn’t look to be a particularly athletic, and was never considered a remarkable physical specimen. As a player, he was incredibly clutch. Knicks fans, and superfan Spike Lee, will never forget Reggie scoring 8 points in 8.9 seconds to lead the Pacers to a playoff victory in Madison Square Garden. It was during this game that Reggie gave the infamous choke sign (see above). Reggie, the player, was not known for his sparkling personality but for his arrogance and his trash talk. Sometimes you have to be a little endearing but Reggie wanted none of that. Perhaps that hindered him a little in the voting process, but hey no one accused Karl Malone of being warm and fuzzy and he had no problem getting in, right?
Reggie Miller will be remembered as one of the greats in an era filled with great players. Reggie wasn’t wanted by Pacers fans on draft day (they wanted Indiana legend Steve Alford) and now it seems the Hall of Fame doesn’t want him either. Reggie shouldn’t have to prove his worth again; he’s more than earned his spot so let him have it.