The first, in a talk on ESPN’s Grantland network, details Rose’s frustrations with his initial year in Indiana under coach Larry Brown, and his relationship with Miller:
As originally quoted by TBL, here are some outtakes (though you really should watch the whole thing):
“[Reggie] never said anything positive about me as his teammate [as he's done for Rik Smits, the Davises, and Mark Jackson].”
“I had a chip on my shoulder obviously against Larry Brown, and against Reggie for not speaking up … As teammates, he never really showed me he appreciated me.”
Now, Jalen Rose has been known to enjoy a brew or two, and there does appear to be a pint of beer next to him as he talked shop on camera, but this led Miller to wonder if Jalen was “drunk” when reflecting on his Pacer days.
From an interview on the Dan Patrick Show:
As with all these fuzzy memories and jock-inspired spats, context is important here.
In the span of 11 months between 1995 and 1996, the Pacers went from championship contenders to playoff also-rans, knocked out of the first round of the 1996 postseason with Miller only able to play in one game after suffering a fractured eye socket late in the regular season.
The following 1996 offseason, in a lot of ways, made the 2010 offseason look like a swap of second-round picks in mid-February.
Miller, a free agent, flirted with the New York Knicks. Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando for Los Angeles. Miami strengthened its core, retaining Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway after attempting to sign Gary Payton out of Seattle. The Knicks made several trades (Larry Johnson) and free agent (Allan Houston) moves to add big names to play alongside an aging Patrick Ewing. Dikembe Mutombo signed with Atlanta. Juwan Howard, considered a franchise player in his own right, signed a massive contract with the Heat which was then disallowed by the NBA, and he then returned to a growing Washington Wizards club. Seattle, and don’t laugh, seemed to find the missing piece in center Jim McIlvaine (seriously, his shot-blocking and screen-setting could have worked out there). Charles Barkley was traded to play alongside Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Kobe Bryant became a thing.
Indiana? The Pacers were on the verge of being left out, until general manager Donnie Walsh decided to send Mark Jackson to the Nuggets for Rose and scoring forward Reggie Williams and a lottery pick that turned into center Erick Dampier – an eventual 16-year vet, coming off of an NCAA showing that saw his Mississippi State club down the top-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats on its way to the Final Four.
In 2014 terms, working with no cap space, the move would be applauded – trading old for young and cheaper and bigger. As Rose mentions, Nuggets coach and GM Bernie Bickerstaff was making one last grab at the playoffs, dealing for Jackson with Mutombo’s free agency looming, later dealing for Sarunas Marciulionis to add to the veteran core.
Those Nuggets (who would have been League Pass darlings in the modern era, with Jackson throwing lob after lob) crapped out by midseason. The Pacers? Considering the higher stakes, things were even worse.
Veteran plugger Haywoode Workman was Indiana’s opening-night starter at point guard, pitched over Rose, but he tore his ACL four games into the season. Instead of going for broke with Jalen in the Pacers' backcourt, Brown started 5-foot-11 rookie Travis Best for 46 games, as Indy fell out of the playoff bracket. Rose received 16 DNP-CDs, his minutes went up and down, and by February the Pacers were gifted Jackson, back from Denver, in a trade for other end-of-bench types that the Pacers weren’t using.
The team ended up finishing with 39 wins, from championship contender to lottery loser in two seasons’ time. Brown then skulked off to Philadelphia, as is his custom, and new coach Larry Bird (with help from assistants Dick Harter and Rick Carlisle) took the Pacers to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals the next season, the conference finals the year after that, and the NBA Finals in 2000.
Why? Because the team dealt Dampier for Chris Mullin, Miller’s in-between game improved, and because Bird let Rose go nuts.
He didn’t start a game in Bird’s first year, playing behind Mullin, but he didn’t miss a game either and often finished contests. The same held the next season, and in 2000 a now-starting Rose won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. I covered that award ceremony in person, and it was Jackson that spoke on the podium on Rose’s behalf. Miller, for whatever reason (not damning, just sayin’), wasn’t around.
Miller and Rose were the hot hands behind a rare 40-point game for two teammates, in the playoffs no less, as Rose took it to his former coach’s 76ers team. Those Pacers never won a title, attempted another rebuild on the fly in 1999 (Jonathan Bender) and 2000 (Jermaine O’Neal, re-signing Austin Croshere). However, Isiah Thomas failed miserably as a coach once Bird left the team in 2000 – with Carlisle being passed over – and Rose was dealt to Chicago in 2002 for players (Ron Artest, Brad Miller) that would lead the next Pacers resurgence alongside Reggie Miller.
So for Reggie to drop this, via Ryan Glasspiegel at the Big Lead …
“I just saw the interview,” Miller said today on the Dan Patrick Show. “It looked like there was some beer next to him. So either he was drunk, or something else was clouding his judgment because his time and my time that we spent together in Indiana was nothing but great. The only thing I had a problem with was when he disrespected all the teammates that I ever played with. If it’s going to make him feel him warm and fuzzy inside to single him out and disrespect all of my teammates dating back to 1987, I’m not gonna do that.”
… yeah, the time in Indiana may have been “great” for you, Reg. It was a pretty sweet run, from 1987 to 2005.
But for Jalen Rose it was a struggle to be accepted by teammates, it was a struggle to get minutes from a coach that resented his presence, it was a struggle to earn a starting slot over a declining Chris Mullin, and it was a struggle to earn recognition through his prime.
Even 18 years on, it’s not easy to move past these sorts of frustrations, and Reggie Miller should really take a break from his usual grandstanding to understand where Rose is coming from.
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