Miller facing crunch time on retirement decision
"Playing in the NBA, like most things in life, is a choice to be made by the individual. It's Reggie Miller's life and who are we to tell anyone what to do with his time. As a fan of the NBA and Miller, I would love to see this ageless wonder continue on forever, but he's already given us everything he has, and more, for the last 19 years. Far too often, we think that athletes and entertainers in the public domain owe us what we want. That's true, to the extent that once they have signed a contract to perform, we can then reasonably expect a consistent and professional effort to produce their best until the expiration of that contract.
Every player is different. Some play until they have nothing left, often leaving under sad and crippling circumstances. Some walk into the sunset with nary a glance over their shoulder.
Miller is more than capable of playing in the NBA at a very high level for at least a few more years. There are very few players in the history of basketball who have come close to producing what Reggie has given us. His unparalleled game of movement, skill, physical fitness and commitment to the team is perfect for the long run that he's given us. A testament to his fitness is the fact that while Reggie is 39 years old, one could never tell by watching him play.
Because of all the problems this year that have ruined the Indiana Pacers' championship aspirations, many of them self-inflicted, he's been asked to do more than reasonably could be expected. He's playing extremely heavy minutes 32 mpg, the most he's played in the last three seasons and this was supposed to be a year of coming off the bench in spurts and mentoring for him.
Miller is a class act who never had the privilege and opportunity to play with a truly great teammate or in a major media market. Yet his numerical accomplishments are simply staggering and all this from a guy who was booed by the fans on the day the Pacers drafted him 11th overall in 1987 out of UCLA. The same fans who, today, can't get enough of him, were clamoring for Steve Alford almost two decades ago. Thank goodness for Donnie Walsh!
I would like to say that Reggie Miller is a sure first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, but after the disgrace of what happened to Dominique Wilkins this week, I'm not sure of anything anymore! But it is safe to say with certainty that Reggie is one of the absolutely best at what he does. Like David Robinson and John Stockton, Reggie is leaving on his terms, with his head held high and what could be better than that.
Reggie still has many options open. He could change his mind and stick around for what promises to be a better ending than what the Pacers are facing this season or he could go play for another team, with better players who can possibly carry him to the championship. Or he can do what he's said all along and just walk away at the end of the day.
Admirably, Reggie has not tried to do anything to draw attention to himself as the end draws ever near, just letting the team, the playoffs and the game be the story. Whatever happens, we are better off for what Reggie has given us his best. It's his life, please thank him for his many gifts to us, and respect his decision whatever it might be.
I do think, though, that he does owe something and that's a public apology to sideline reporter Craig Sager for denying the very true report that he was going to retire. "