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Rip on Reggie: I love him to death
Miller's game serves as model to Hamilton
Richard Hamilton can't sidle up to Reggie Miller tonight, tap him on the shoulder and ask for advice. There are, after all, certain unwritten rules opponents have to obey, no matter how great the admiration. France, for example, would never approach Germany during wartime and ask, how do you do it?
But the truth is, Miller is one of Hamilton's favorite players. Hamilton sees so much of himself in the rangy Pacers guard. One day this summer, he hopes to ask Miller all the questions he has never dared ask during games. The two will match up tonight at the Palace when the Pistons and Pacers begin their best-of-seven second-round series.
"I love him," Hamilton said Sunday. "He's been helping me out for so long, just by me watching him and observing everything he does. I love him to death. He's been so much help to me as far as how the game is supposed to be played -- it makes my job easier, definitely, on the offensive end."
Hamilton won't have many more opportunities to watch and learn. Miller turns 40 in August, and earlier this year announced this will be his last NBA season. There are many who would love to see him continue; several of them are Pistons.
"He doesn't look old to me," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "I hate to see him leave. I don't see slippage at all. He's done so much for our game."
Brown coached Miller when he was with the Pacers in 1993-1997.
"He's an underrated defender, he's as good a shooter as we've ever had in our league, he's as smart a player as you'll ever see at that position, and he's an unbelievable competitor, and that's never changed," Brown said. "I admire how he approaches the game, how competitive he is, what a great teammate he is. You never want to see kids like that leave."
Miller's value to the Pacers was never more evident this season than the stretch between March 4-April 15, when the team was without starters Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley. During that period Miller averaged 20 points, 45 percent shooting and 32 minutes -- and the team went 15-7.
"That was what kept us afloat in the playoff picture," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "That period from March to April, where he really stepped up his game to All-Star-caliber level, allowed us to have the opportunity to win 44 games and get the sixth seed."
If the Pacers lose this series, Miller will retire without an NBA championship. But that hardly diminishes the impact he has had.
"Reggie is a Hall of Famer," Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter said. "You just take your hat off to him and what he's done in this league and for that organization."
Miller, who has played his entire 18-season career for Indiana, has also done quite a bit for Hamilton. Both share the same slender body type -- Miller is 6-feet-7 and 195 pounds; Hamilton, 6-7 and 193. Both are fanatical about their fitness routines.
Hamilton has watched how Miller eludes defenders and how he releases his shot with great success.
Some time this summer, Hamilton plans to approach Miller and tap his vast knowledge.
"I definitely want to talk to him more and see what he does and things like that," Hamilton said. "I try to talk during the games, but it's hard to ask somebody for advice from the opposite team, because you know, if somebody asks me, I don't know if I want to give it to them if I know I'm going to go against them in the playoffs."