...It's been an incredible ride.
When Reggie Miller was selected way back in the 1987 NBA draft few knew what Indiana was really getting. Indiana didn't just get a player, the Pacers got the face of the franchise. We got a player who would give us all faith that we could win. No matter what the score said, with Reggie Miller in the game anything was possible. He brought a bravado to the court that was infectious. We could beat anybody. We could start dreaming not about just a winning record or making the playoffs. We could start dreaming about making some noise in the playoffs.
Reggie's confidence, his showmanship, his drive, the determination... We believed because we felt - no - we knew he believed.
He's leaving as one of the top scorers ever in the NBA. He's taken and made more three point shots than anybody. His longevity both in the NBA and with one team, the Pacers, is also a rarity in this day and age. Regardless of what the hardware might say, Pacer fans know a champion when they see one. Reggie Miller is a true Pacer champion. Just like the heroes from the Pacer ABA heydays of the past.
His absence from the team will certainly leave a void for the fans. Missing will be that hush and then growing buzz as Reggie slips around a pick and waits behind the three point arc for the ball. Reggie then gets the pass and there's this pause as if the crowd must all take a collective breath just before Reggie releases the ball. And then there is the glorious eruption, fans coming out of their seats, arms in the air, and the ball slicing through the net. Swish.... Boom Baby!
That scene has played over and over again in MSA and now Conseco, but it is drawing to a close. Perhaps fittingly, Reggie is playing these last few moments of his career just as he has the last moments of a close game- somehow finding a way to put the team on his back, the fans too, and make us all believe one more time that he has another Miller Miracle awaiting us. 8 points in 8 seconds? No problem. 25 points in the 4th quarter? No sweat. Nailing a last second three to beat Michael Jordan and the Bulls? Of course, it's Reggie. 39 points at 39 years of age? Why not!?
This season hasn't played out like many of us would've hoped but that shouldn't take anything away from the accomplishments of the team and coaching staff as they have navigated these uncharted waters. It's a shame that a player of Reggie's stature, an ambassador not only for the Pacers but the NBA as well, couldn't take the team as intended into one last title quest. But that is not to be. Perhaps we can take some solace from the fact that the circumstances have given Reggie one last chance to lead this team as we all remember. Not as some 39 year old player holding on as long as the team would have him but instead as a player at the top of his game playing some of the best basketball of his career.
The clock is ticking. Reggie's very last game is fast approaching. While the final game of the regular season will be emotional everyone knows that there are playoff games to be played. And history says the playoffs are Miller time. Can he put the team on his back one last time and carry the team and fans farther than anyone thinks possible? I'm not betting against it. With Reggie Miller in the game... anything is possible.