View Full Version : Miller thanks fans one last time

03-08-2005, 09:14 AM
Miller thanks fans one last time


FINAL HOMECOMING: Fans remember his career, and he salutes Riverside friends and family.

12:11 AM PST on Monday, March 7, 2005

By MATT HURST / The Press-Enterprise

LOS ANGELES - After the game, his final in Los Angeles, and after most of his teammates left and all the media had left, Reggie Miller packed his iPod away, gathered his gear from the visiting locker room in Staples Center and reflected on his time in Riverside.

Miller, a native of Riverside, had just finished a 5-of-16 shooting night in a 103-94 loss to the Lakers in his final homecoming after 18 years in the NBA. Yet, he was upbeat and spoke at length, recalling some memories and how the people in Riverside had always been supportive of him.

"There were a lot of pickup games there, me and (sister) Cheryl," Miller said. "My time at Riverside Poly and John Adams Elementary School, ... I wouldn't trade that in for anything.
Silvia Flores / The Press-Enterprise
Riverside Poly graduate Reggie Miller wraps up warmups with teammate Anthony Johnson during pregame introductions.

"Riverside has grown so much since I've been gone; every time I go back to visit my folks I'm astounded by all the houses and development. Riverside was the perfect place for me to grow up. You were sheltered from LA and the city life, and it had a country life that I liked and having that military background from March (AFB) for my dad and having a chance to play at Riverside Poly, which I thought was the best school in Riverside ...

"Everyone from Riverside, especially my first six or seven years, when I would come back and play, we would have busloads of people come up. I just always want to thank everyone in Riverside and obviously my folks who are still there in the same house, it's almost a shrine there now, but thank them, thank everybody."

It seemed that everybody was thanking Miller on Sunday.

He received the largest non-Laker ovation during starting lineup announcements at the beginning of the night, and it wasn't hard to spot fans of Miller's that were scattered throughout the arena, wearing his jersey and holding up signs.

One sign read: "Welcome Home 31." Another said "Miller Time." Two more had images of Miller on it, and one seemed to speak for many with "Thanks Reggie" on it.

Miller said he wasn't pressing to perform well in his final homecoming. He started the game just 1 of 6, missing his first four three-point attempts, and finished the first half only 3 of 11.

"I didn't want to force things. I got a lot of good looks early," he said.

Miller sure didn't look like a man heading for retirement. He moved well, played 38 minutes, and although he didn't shoot all that well, did not appear affected by his final homecoming.

"Its always fun to play against a guy like Reggie," said Kobe Bryant, who led all scorers with 37 points. "He thinks the game. He doesn't just go out there and play. When you match up against a person like that, you have to do your homework. He's had a magnificent career, a Hall of Fame career. My hat goes off to him, and I wish him all the best."

Lakers coach Frank Hamblen thought that Miller would "be on a high" playing in front of a lot of family and friends on Sunday.

If he was, he shrugged it off, waving his arms when asked how many family members were here. He just said he "had a lot of friends and family here and that was nice, but they've seen a lot of my games."

Despite that, Miller didn't play up his final appearance in a Pacers jersey in Southern California or prepare differently.

"He's not the type to be talking about things like that," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's always focused on professional aspects and the job of being a great player."

Stephen Jackson, the man who will take over much of Miller's duties next season, made sure to shadow the 39-year-old much of this year, and he said it's really paid off.

"Reggie's been great for me, especially being it's his last year and he's basically handing over his role that he had for so long with the Pacers to me," Jackson said.

"I'm trying to learn how he approaches the game and how he's an ultimate professional."

Tyler Michael Jonsson said he's been a fan of Miller's since he was 4 years old, watching Miller in his heyday at UCLA. Armed with a camera, waiting to get a snapshot of Miller before the game, Jonsson said he would "take a bullet" for the man, and he cried the day he found out Miller was retiring.

"I like so many things about him," said Jonsson, an actor from Burbank. "When he was growing up, he was the hugest underdog in history. He was an underdog in his own family, and he had the thing with his legs.

"In my opinion, he's one of the top 10 all-time, ever."

Eames Kolar, a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara, used all of his Christmas money to buy a $200 seat five rows behind the Pacers' bench. He was dressed in an old Miller jersey that barely fit him, saying that the child's extra large jersey was seven years old.

Kolar, 19, first became a Miller fan during the 1995 playoffs when Miller scored eight points in the final 8.9 seconds to steal a win against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

"I just like how nobody else likes him," Kolar said. "He's an island all to himself."

Perhaps, but on Sunday he had a lot of people in Staples Center wanting to be on that island with him.

Staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this story.

Reach Matt Hurst at mhurst@pe.com.

03-08-2005, 02:51 PM
man Reggie should almost stayed in LA so maybe he got 1 RING ffs! :( but then we would be Lakers fans? iiuuu

03-08-2005, 03:10 PM
maybe i wis :( h the best for miller too but hope he dosen't retire this year.

03-09-2005, 09:27 PM
Um the thing is Reggie isnt a ring chaser.......So i dont think that was ever a thought that crossed his mind. He was and is going to be loyal to Indiana.

03-09-2005, 09:28 PM
I was meaning the statement about LA

03-10-2005, 12:44 AM
I think I'd still be a Pacers fan, considering I'm..a...Pacers...fan :)

Great for Reggie, but if he'd played for LA, I'd have hated him just as much as I hate all non-Pacers :D

03-10-2005, 12:48 AM
Um the thing is Reggie isnt a ring chaser.......So i dont think that was ever a thought that crossed his mind. He was and is going to be loyal to Indiana.

Yea i know, thats why i think he is so special... but on the other side, he DOES diserve a ring more than any player in NBA history(maybe malone&stockton aswell)... just all the things he have done for the pacer franchise..