Indiana Pacers legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Reggie Miller made waves earlier in this postseason by calling Game 2 of Indiana and New York’s Eastern Conference semifinal series on the anniversary of his famous “eight points in nine seconds” performance against the Knicks in 1994. Now, with the Pacers attempting to take a firm grasp on the second round series, the TNT analyst is now back at the Pacers’ home arena for his first postseason game in Indiana since Reg’s final game as a pro back in 2005.
On the eve of calling Tuesday’s Game 4, Miller talked with Indianapolis Star scribe Mike Wells to discuss, amongst many other things, the potential for Reggie to take to the Pacers’ front office in some capacity.
Q: You have the life of luxury. You work one day a week during the regular season. But how much do you think about running a team in the front office?
All the time. It would have to be the right situation (and), for me, the only situation I know is Indiana.
Those competitive juices always flow. During the regular season, not so much because it’s only one day a week. It really picks up come the end of March and April when the playoffs are about to start and we have a lot of games. That’s when my blood starts to boil and I start to sweat a little bit more. I’m in the action because every possession means something.
That’s when I think I could possibly do that. Again, it’ll have to be the right situation. We’ll see. I’m not going to broadcast forever. I’ll probably want to do something else in basketball, which will probably be running a team or at least helping run a team.
You don’t get the feeling that Reg is leaning too hard on angling for the Pacers’ gig. He’s talking to Mike Wells, one of the best NBA beat writers in this business, but he’s also dealing with a local paper, and nothing that will be replayed salaciously on Tuesday night’s TNT broadcast of New York and Indiana’s Game 3.
Mostly because Pacer personnel chief Donnie Walsh is the man that stuck his neck out for Miller in the 1987 NBA draft, taking him in spite of a rabid Pacer crowd that wanted local legend Steve Alford instead. And should Larry Bird return to the Pacers’ front office after a year off, it’s doubtful that Miller would attempt to usurp the man who coached him to the NBA Finals in 2000. That’s why, even though we think Miller would not be much of a success as a personnel man, it’s admirable that Miller is centralizing his front office hopes, while remaining respectful.
“Admirable” is also the sort of word that can be used to describe Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who is now playing more minutes per game than at any point in his career. Roy has averaged 25 minutes per game on his career, while never topping the 30 minute mark per game (even in his All-Star year of 2011-12) once in his five-season run. And yet Roy has been able to average 37.6 minutes per game over his last five playoff contests, featuring four Pacer wins, in a much-needed run between the team’s first and second round series.
Hibbert, who topped 40 minutes for just the fourth time in his career in Game 3, seems to want more. From Howard Beck at the New York Times:
“To tell you the truth,” Hibbert said, “I’d like to play the whole game.”
Hibbert’s success is a testament to his work on improving his physique — he became stronger and more nimble with the help of the M.M.A. workouts and a nutritionist — and his evolving offensive game, which began humbly. When he was a gangly 7-1 freshman at Georgetown, the Hoyas’ coaching staff was not sure what to make of him.
“He had a long way to go, and I think that’s probably an understatement,” Coach John Thompson III said in a telephone interview.
The Pacers have a long way to go. Miller contradicted himself while talking to Wells, noting that Indiana was in “uncharted waters” directly before bringing up the team’s similar 2-1 Eastern semifinals lead over Miami from a year before. The Knicks have had their struggles, but Indiana’s inability to smoothly score will keep these games close unless New York completely gives up. And, three days after being embarrassed by the Pacers physically in a tough Indiana win, the combative Knicks seem like the sort of group to pull out all the stops.
Neither of these teams may top 90 points between now and the end of this series, but that doesn’t mean the intrigue isn’t there. If you deign to tune in on Tuesday, you’ll be watching two teams attempting to return to the peak of their 1990s runs as Eastern contenders, two franchises that refuse to disassociate themselves with the past.
That in and of itself – to say nothing of the spirited play – should be worth your eyes.