Reggie Miller: “Anyone who says it doesn’t hurt not to be a champion is lying”

Reggie Miller is now 56 years old. He's an Indiana Pacers and NBA legend that has entered the list of the 75 best in history, officially drawn up

Reggie Miller is now 56 years old. He’s an Indiana Pacers and NBA legend that has entered the list of the 75 best in history, officially drawn up on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the competition, and continues to be remembered as a killer, a huge enforcer in dramatic endings and one of the best shooters ever. He is third in total triples scored (2,560) although James Harden is on his heels. Miller arrived at a time, of course, in which he shot much less than three: he was number 11 in the 1987 draft. Although they received boos from his fans, the Pacers chose Miller, who He ended up playing his entire career in Indiana (1987-2005), where he became a legend: five times all star, three All NBA, Olympic gold (1996) and member of the Hall of Fame. And, unfortunately, one of the best players ever without a champion ring.

The Athletic is elaborating his own top 75, and in it, in position 47, is Reggie Miller, who has given an extensive and juicy interview to this medium on the occasion of his selection, which joins an official who acknowledges that he was caught by surprise: “The day the last 25 of the top 75 were announced, I thought I was not going to enter. I had seen the 50 that were already there and I saw the names that were missing and that they entered for sure: Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, guys like that … I got 18 or 19 so I figured I wasn’t going to be among the remaining six or seven. I was really surprised. It’s something you don’t even dream of when you start playing ”.

In the interview, Miller recounts how he became a deadly shooter: “The key was repetition. I grew up not being one of the big boys, so I had to have other weapons, and shooting was something I was good at. Repeat, toss and toss. Put fifteen from one side, then fifteen from the opposite, then go to eighteen from each, then twenty-one … and so on without stopping “. And he assures that he would not have been who he was without Cheryl Miller, his older sister and one of the best players in history: “It was ahead of its time, in women’s basketball and in basketball in general.. He did things that even men were not doing. He made us all work harder to achieve what we set out to do. Being able to say that the best player in the world is in your house was something incredible. The games against her helped me as a child to perfect my shooting mechanics. I was wearing earplugs all the time, I was taller than me, faster, I jumped more. It was a challenge to pull over her. So I started practicing to gain a couple of meters by going backwards and throwing more and more bow ”.

Miller also explains that facility he had to appear in even finals, when others felt their pulse trembled: “What made the difference was the desire to have the ball in your hands at the worst possible moments, in the toughest match situations. I played with, and against, many incredible players but who didn’t want to know anything when the decisive plays came. That’s what I would like to see said about my career: wanted the ball in the most complicated situations. If that requires arrogance? Yes, and also selfishness. And strong shoulders because half the people are going to love what you do and the other half are going to hate it. It is a question of whether or not the ball enters, there are no grays in between. I always felt that I could be the hero. Since I was playing in the backyard of my house and counting down the last seconds in my head before shooting. In high school, at UCLA, in the NBA… always. Sometimes you failed, and blame and criticism came. But for the scorers and for the shooters it is like this: you have to have a bad memory”.

What he has no doubts is who is the best shooter in history, although he also puts on the table the name of one of the great legends of European basketball: “Stephen Curry has changed basketball. He is the best shooter ever. Before him the best I saw was Drazen Petrovic. But Steph It has revolutionized the way of playing and the perception of shooters. Drazen and I used to pass blocks, catch and shoot, but Steph makes everything. He’s at the top of the shooters with no one around ”.

Miller never won the ring, and explains that he had the option to come out of retirement to play for the Celtics big three (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce) who tempted him with the option to win the title that had eluded him. For him, saying that it was not a question of loyalty: “It was a team that had everything to be champion. But for me, It wouldn’t have been the right thing to do to end up opening champagne bottles in Boston after growing up as a gamer in Indiana., having laughed and cried with the Pacers … we cried a lot because we were so close many times. He couldn’t have been celebrating and laughing anywhere else for winning the championship because he always wanted to win it in Indiana. People don’t understand what it means to win in a small market: what LeBron did in Cleveland, now Milwaukee… Indiana is in that category. It’s like winning four times elsewhere. We weren’t the Lakers or the Celtics or the Bulls. If you win in places like Indiana, the fans live and die for you. Also, Indiana is a state where basketball is so important… I just wanted to win there. I knew how special it would be. So I was not going to put on another jersey when all my joys and misfortunes had come with another, the Pacers. It was the team that bet on me, and had the sense of loyalty instilled by my father, who was in the Air Force ”.

And, finally, he openly acknowledges that not being able to be a champion, when he was close to him many times, is something that he continues to forget despite all the goals he reached: “I still think about it every day. It burns me inside. People always want to tell me about the great shots, the baskets against the Knicks, the Nets, the Bulls … but I remember the times we were on the verge of achieving it. I remember the seventh game in 1994, the seventh in 1995, the seventh in 1999… That’s what I remember, and it burns me. People who say they don’t regret not winning at least one ring are lying. I had a great race, it’s like that, and it wouldn’t hurt so much if we hadn’t had it so close. Six Conference finals and only one Finals played, those of 2000 against the Lakers. After those first years the team, before the fight in Detroit, with Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest … In the Eastern Final in 2004 I told my teammates if they were clear that if we eliminated Detroit we were going to be champions, because I had it. At the break of the sixth game I was livid, I told them that the Lakers were waiting in the Finals but that they were not defending like us. And what happened? That we lost that sixth and the Pistons then beat the Lakers in five games… So yeah, it hurts, of course it hurts ”.