(Reggie Miller and Spike Lee, presumably talking about each other’s mothers. Image via Fox59Larry)
The Pacers and Knicks are facing off in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. This hasn’t happened in 13 years, but it was a near-annual event in the 1990s. Wars were fought, blood was spilled, history was made.
Most often, it was being made by Reggie Miller.
As detailed in the wonderful documentary “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks,” his first act was a 25-point fourth quarter that brought the Pacers back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit to win a game in 1994. That was epic.
But it was just the appetizer.
The following season, he scored 8 points in 9 seconds to resurrect a victory that seemed a sure defeat. Astute readers might notice that those same words appear at the top of this blog.
In 2009, I was asked by the fine folks who run the TrueHoop Network to start a Pacers blog. They needed an Indiana affiliate to fill out their 30-team roster of sites, they recalled I was a Pacers follower, and they ignored the fact that I often misspel werds. Though I wasn’t 100 percent sure I wanted to write about the Pacers as often as this task would require (I had only written NBA-wide stuff previously), I remember that one of the biggest hurdles would be coming up with a name.
Kevin Arnovitz, an ESPN employee and founder of Clipperblog, was the one who asked me to start the site. So I naturally thought about going that route. I think I even checked and found out that “Pacersblog” was available. Then I realized that I think the word “blog” is horrible.
Needed some more options.
A sheet of paper was filled. Throughout the week, after agreeing to found an as-yet unnamed outlet but before I had to actually deliver, napkins were scribbled upon. There was a small stack of chicken-scratched-on notes lying on my desk. I can’t remember any of the candidates.
At some point, “8 Points in 9 Seconds” came up. I had founded two other blogs, Both Teams Played Hard about the NBA and Do You Like Movies About Gladiators? about movies, so this fit in with the are-you-serious-that-title-is-way-too-long-for-a-URL theme.
Being the top-notch editor I am, I managed to excise “in.”
I asked a few folks their opinion. Everyone seemed to dig it. But I was still uneasy with the response. It’s sort of like wearing a funky hat. No matter how it looks, people will say “Hey … nice hat” when they see you. But they don’t necessarily mean “Nice hat” as in “Whoa, you look really cool and not at all like a total idiot.” What they actually mean is “I noticed you are wearing a hat.” There is really no way to tell whether or not an acquaintance actually thinks it is flattering.
Like the stupid hats I wear, however, I eventually just said “Yeah … 8 Points, 9 Seconds works.”
I paid $9.99 to register the domain and the rest is history. Well, a history that 40 or 50 people know about anyway.
I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Pacers fans seem to dig it, as do general NBA fans who are over 25. Many a Knick fans who I presume has never red the site tell me they hate me (I think mockingly) on Twitter. So that’s cool. But it’s not the easiest thing to explain at parties and whatnot to your friend’s cousin who happens to be in town. “Pacersblog” would be easier. You may have to explain what the Pacers are but you won’t have to bore them to tears with some tale about this skinny guy with big ears who, in under nine seconds, changed your sports-team-rooting-for world back in the mid-1990s.
Still, I think it’s was the biggest moment in the Pacers history.
Our little tag line is “Time to Rewrite History.”
That’s what happened in the those 8.9 seconds.
Before they happened, the Indiana Pacers were just a dull, bad team in the National Basketball Association. After, they were Reggie Miller vs. The Knicks. They had legend. They had cache. They had an iconic moment that all sports fans could recognize instantly.
So it’s only fitting that as these two once-heated rivals face off again, Mr. Miller is in the building. My connection to the team is much different than it was 18 years ago, but if that kid knew that this was happening, that I was sitting here in Madison Square Garden writing about this, about to go watch Reggie watch this Pacers/Knicks game, he would probably lose his mind.
In that sense, there is no better name than 8 Points, 9 Seconds.
Never has so much happened so quickly. The Indiana Pacers turned a corner as a franchise in that instant, and without those 8.9 seconds, this game tonight wouldn’t mean what it means.