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Miller leaves Palace with venom in voice
Anger is misplaced as he rants about arena security and Detroit after game.
By Chris McCosky / The Detroit News
AUBURN HILLS -- So long, Reggie Miller, adios. Make sure you pick up all your used tissue and crying towels on your way out.
I am done with Reggie Miller. I respect his game. He will go down as one of the game's greatest snipers, perhaps its best clutch shooter. His place among the elite players in NBA history is secure.
But I am so done with his whining and petulance -- and the fake chip on his shoulder.
I am sorry that my lasting image of him will be from Friday night, when he was standing in the locker room like a martyr, contending he and his team were somehow victims of some injustice.
"We've been penalized so much this year, and our team, and nothing has ever happened to the Pistons or The Palace or even the city of Detroit," he said. "It's almost like it's always our fault. The league knows it, and the league ought to be ashamed of themselves to let security be as lax as it is around here.
"We're always going to get the brunt of it as players, especially this year. David Stern has to take a hard look in the mirror every morning when he wakes up on his decision, the way he penalized us and the way he penalized the Pistons."
OK, stop. That's enough. Let's not rewrite history. Plenty has happened to the Pistons and Detroit since the Nov. 19 brawl, and little of it has been good.
But we don't feel compelled to moan and show our scars to anyone who will look or listen.
True, the Pistons did not suffer as much as the Pacers. But guess what? The Pistons didn't go into the stands and attack fans. You can point out all the other incidents that led up to it -- Artest's hard foul on Ben Wallace, Wallace's shoving Ron Artest, Artest's lying on the scorer's table, the fan's throwing the cup -- but there was no brawl until Artest ran into the stands.
Everything that happened afterward -- as sickening and inexcusable as it might have been -- was sparked by Artest's action.
Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal pummeled paying customers. Thus, their penalties were stiffer than those imposed on the Pistons players.
Sorry, Reggie, you do not get to play the victim card here. You and your team are paying the consequences of your own actions.
As for the security at The Palace, it was far from lax. That building was sealed tightly enough for a presidential visit. Bomb-sniffing dogs swept the entire building twice, as a matter of course, before some fool called in the bogus threat. Security personnel were posted in front of both locker rooms all day long -- before there was a bomb threat.
They repeated the drill after the threat was made.
There was no bomb, no threat. Nobody, except the Pacers briefly, was evacuated.
Yet, it took an intervention from the league office to get the Pacers onto the court.
Had they come back immediately after police sounded the all-clear, this would have been a five-paragraph, one-day story. Now it's national news.
And guess what the news is -- Detroit is a dangerous city and The Palace is an unruly venue.
That is utter garbage, of course.
At least one Pacer seems to understand, and believe it or not, it's Jermaine O'Neal, who obliged autograph seekers and slapped hands with fans in the same tunnel in which he was doused with beer in November.
"We are human, we do live regular lives. Something as serious as a bomb threat is no joking matter whatsoever," he said. "For somebody to do that, I think that is extremely unfair, not only to our team, but it's unfair to the city. There's a lot of good fans out here in Detroit. For some stupid person to call and do that, the people in Detroit should be mad at that person."
Here's a final snapshot by which to remember Miller: As Miller was standing in front of the Pacers bench, a fan yelled, sincerely, "Reggie, thanks for all the memories, man."
Miller smirked and didn't acknowledge the fan.
On the farm
The NBA is moving closer to commissioner David Stern's dream of a farm system.
Last week, the NBDL (the NBA's development league) expanded by four teams. Austin and Fort Worth, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; and Albuquerque, N.M., were purchased by a group headed by David Kahn.
There will be 10 teams in the NBDL next season. Five are independently owned and five are owned by the NBA. Stern has said he wants the league ultimately to have 15 teams, each affiliated with two NBA teams.
"Since Mr. Stern and I began speaking about this last spring, this was his vision," said Kahn, who was the Pacers' general manager from 1998-2002. "I share his vision that we need it and I hope it happens."
Although NBA teams would not have to supply all the players for minor-league affiliates (there would be unrestricted free agents), they would be able to send young players to these teams and maintain their contractual rights.
• The Knicks' Tim Thomas, after defeating the Celtics and trash-talking Paul Pierce last week: "It's not even MTV, and he got punk'd."
• Kevin McHale, Timberwolves coach and president, on superstitions: "I'm real superstitious: If you go out and outwork the other team, you have a good chance of beating them."
Material from personal interviews, other beat writers and Detroit News wire services was used in this report. You can reach Chris McCosky at (313) 222-1489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris McCosky's quick hits
• Yao Ming needs to take his act to Comedy Central. His Shaquille O'Neal shtick is hilarious. Hey, Yao, we understand that you learn something new every time you face Shaq. "Yes, but the tuition is a bit too expensive." Bam. Yao, what is it you would most like to learn from him? "What I really want to know is when he's going to retire." Bam-bam. Imagine how funny he'll be when he speaks English even better than he does now.
• The player is always the last to know when he's done. Alonzo Mourning has essentially turned himself into the Darko Milicic of the Miami Heat. The crowd chants for him, and he plays only late in blowout games. He's their human victory cigar. He might get a few more minutes now that Christian Laettner is out because of an injury, but he's basically on the team for sentimental reasons. The only people who don't seem to realize that are Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal. Said Shaq: "Now you have the No. 1 and No. 2 centers in the game on the same team." Huh? Maybe in 1996 or 1997 they were the best centers in the game (though I don't think so), but not now.
• Ah, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Team Harmony of the NBA. Despite fighting for their playoff lives, they still can't get along with one another. Players and coaches had to separate Michael Olowokandi and Sam Cassell during a practice Thursday. Harsh words from Cassell resulted in Olowokandi's going after him. The two were separated and things seemed to calm down, until Olowokandi went back at Cassell. No punches were thrown, but it's clear the Timberwolves will have to blow up their roster and start anew.
• Two NBA coaches, two vastly different takes on Reggie Miller's imminent retirement. After Miller scored 39 points against his team March 18, Lakers coach Frank Hamblen said, "When you can score your age in this league, it's not time to quit." Spurs coach Gregg Popovich begged to differ. "Reggie is somebody that every player in this league could learn from, especially on how the game should be played and how you should prepare," Popovich said. "He is one of the all-time greats. On the selfish side, I hope he retires and stays there."
• Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy apparently is done with the cute Coaching Van Gundy Brothers stories. "If I see one more story about us I'm going to puke," he said, referring to stories about him and his brother Stan, who coaches the Heat. "Me and my brother. Me and my mom. Mom listens with the sound, my dad doesn't. Who cares? Really, I'm so sick of it. You guys just won't let it go. I mean, gosh. It's not a novelty anymore. It's painful to read those stories. 'And when Jeff was 3....' I mean, my goodness." When told that Stan was far more chatty on the topic, Jeff said, "He's in a better mood. He's 52-16. Let me win 12 in a row, let me go 41-9 over a stretch of games, you can ask me whatever you want about anything you want, you'll get a positive remark."
• Want to know the best new nickname in the league? Brent Barry of the Spurs has begun to call Manu Ginobili, a man who never shied away from a floor burn, El Contusion.
• So much for Baron Davis' saving the Warriors. They are 7-8 since he joined them, and coach Mike Montgomery is getting a little tired of hearing about the Baron Davis era. "We're going to have Baron building us a new arena pretty soon," Montgomery barked after getting one too many questions about Davis' impact. "Geez, Andris (Biedrins) is 6-11. That must be 'cause Baron is here."
• So usually mild-mannered forward Mike Dunleavy of the Warriors goes off on an official and earns an ejection and suddenly he's everybody's hero. Wow. After picking up four quick and questionable fouls trying to guard Dirk Nowitzki last week, Dunleavy went after referee Bill Spooner, screaming and spitting (inadvertently) in Spooner's face. Spooner tossed him immediately, and the fans went bonkers. They gave Dunleavy a standing ovation, and he played up to it by barking as he walked off the court, ripping off his jersey and throwing it into the crowd. "I got a kick out of it," Warriors president Chris Mullin said. "The way the crowd reacted I felt was pretty revealing. I think they were waiting for that." But Mullin, who has thrown a few tantrums in his day, wasn't in favor of the jersey toss. "I've been in that situation before. I've done similar things. But I didn't take my shirt off," he said. "With my body, I'm not taking my shirt off." • You can always tell the men from the boys in this league by the way they react in the heat of the moment. For example, witness the reaction of the Raptors' Rafer Alston to an encounter with the Cavaliers' Ira Newble, the pride of Southfield. Newble stopped a layup attempt with a hard foul on Alston, who charged after Newble, acting as if he wanted to fight him. "I made a basketball play," Newble said. "He got sensitive and tried to take (it) somewhere that in his heart he didn't really want to go." Well put. "He was running his mouth," Newble said. "Some guys just talk a lot and try to put on a show out there. In an NBA game you can act like you're going to do something, but you know people are going to be there to stop you."
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