Reggie Miller Named Finalist to the 2012 Class of the Hall of Fame

A year ago at this time, I was goin’ all Robby Benson on the Hall of Fame Voters. Reggie Miller, the face of the Pacer franchise, had failed to even make the list of finalists.

Fortunately, this year, I won’t have to go searching through YouTube for clips from Ice Castles or Ode to Billy Joe, as Reggie Miller was one of 12 Finalists for election to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame announced Friday.  Here are some of the folks that join Reggie on that list:

  • Bernard King and Mo Cheeks – two of my favorite players from the 80s.
  • Don Nelson and Dick Motta – a couple of coaches whose performances in the 80s were unfortunately overshadowed by the presence of Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Showtime Lakers.
  • Jamaal Wilkes – Silk was a prototypical small forward, winning titles with Golden State and the early Showtime Lakers.
  • Ralph Sampson – Believe it or not, there was a point in time where he was bigger (metaphorically) than Jordan. The 7’4″ phenom whose career was best described by Chuck Klosterman when he said, “He was needed to remind people that their own self-imposed mediocrity is better than choking on transcendence.”
  • Katrina McClain and the All American Red Heads from the Women’s Committee, and referee Hank Nichols
  • Rick Pitino and Bill Fitch – two men who had profound impacts on two key people in the Pacers’ current leadership. Pitino gave Pacer coach Frank Vogel his first NBA job – as Video Coordinator for the Boston Celtics. Larry Bird has cited Bill Fitch as the best coach he ever played for, crediting him with helping instill the work ethic that Bird feels was so much a part of his success.

Now it is time for Pacer fans to wait for the induction. As a finalist, Reggie Miller’s credentials are as good, if not better, than those brought by anyone else on this list. However, if most Pacer fans are like me, it’s not the numbers or awards that make Reggie a Hall of Famer.

The reason we know Reg belongs in the Hall is engrained in our NBA DNA. It is burned in our memories. Our recollection of how it felt both when Miller tormented the Knicks and Spike Lee with 25 4th quarter points, and just a few days later when we sobbed with him in the locker room after losing game 7. Moments of glory both permanent and fleeting. Superman T-shirts in Milwaukee and a past-his-prime post-brawl Reggie Miller gathering up his remaining strength to salvage an unsalvageable season, even winning a playoff series.

For some, we remember leaving a message for Alex Yovanovich, bemoaning the Pacers’ loss in Game 5 of a 2002 First Round Playoff series to the Nets, but being interrupted by a banked in 40-footer by Uncle Reg. The result: first one, then two overtimes, and an everlasting moment of hilarity for Alex and his wife, Andrea, as they played back the stammering voice mail.

For all, we remember playoff success, trash talk, and of course, 8 points in 9 seconds.

Being of fan of any team in any sport is an act of public intimacy. Many people love the same thing, but each at their own way, and each for their own intensely personal reasons. For me, though basketball has been deeply entwined in my history, no team has had more personal importance than the Pacers, and no single player or person outside of my family has meant more to my relationship with basketball than Reggie Miller.

Intellectually, I understand the Hall of Fame, and I have a great deal of respect for all of its members. Emotionally, however, the Hall of Fame has remained empty – incomplete – as long as Reggie is not there.

Friday, February 24th was a step in the right direction. If all goes right, Monday, April 2nd will be a day for all Pacer fans will remember for a very long time.

Tags: Springfield

  • JT’s Hoops Blog

    Miller certainly deserves to be in the Hall. He was probably one of the greatest NBA players that never won a title and one of the few players that actually gave Michael Jordan a run for his money.

    I’m not sure Bernard King belongs there. He never really accomplished anything in his time in the league and spent much of his career injured. Certainly Ralph Sampson does not belong there either–he only played well for three years until he fell to shoddy knees. I would not put Don Nelson and Dick Motta either. Nelson only won one NBA title as a coach and Dick Motta claim to fame was quitting on a Dallas Mavs team that went to the conference finals.

    You can make a case for Rick Pitino because of his success coaching the University of Kentucky, and Maurice Cheeks should have been inducted a long time ago. Bill Fitch is quite the head scratcher considering he second all time losingest coach in NBA history–maybe that uis deserving of the hall of fame after all. Jaamal Wilkes was essentially a hired gun who was at the right place at the right time–not exactly worthy of HOF recognition.

  • dwain

    thx for the memories Reggie, you set the bar for being a Pacer, no one deserves the HOF more than you do. Class act with no quit in ya.

  • Joe

    Well said Tim. Growing up as a kid in the 90′s, Reggie was a hero to me. The man could, and still can’t do anything wrong.

  • Kathy

    Amen, brother! Never saw that man not be all out–all passion, all heart, all in till the last millisecond. He believed and we believed and there was nothing easy or glamorous about it all, but what incredible joy! He deserves this honor for using every inch of talent, drive, work ethic, and humor he had. May his legacy live on! Go Pacers!

  • James

    Ironically enough, though football has always been my favorite sport, no athlete has ever been as iconic, entertaining, and awe-inspiring to me as Reggie (and that’s saying a lot coming from a Colts fan who has lived through the Peyton Manning era!). Watching his hands make the ‘choke’ sign while waltzing across the floor at Madison Square Garden is etched in my mind forever. The retreat to three point line to tie the game in “eight points in nine seconds.” You nailed it when you mentioned the post-brawl playoff run. Basketball hasn’t been the same since he left the game. Here’s to hoping he’s inducted on April 2nd! We miss you, Reggie!