I know there are plenty of threads about Reggie and his retirement. But I really wanted to start a thread to tell how I feel.
I was born in August 1987, a couple of months after Reggie was drafted. So while some of you were fans of the Pacers during the horid 80's, and even the great ABA seasons, I have never been alive in a season where Reggie didn't wear number 31 for the Pacers.
I guess for me it all started back in 1995 when I was 8 years old. My grandfather took me to some Pacers games in '95-'96, and I got a Reggie jersey. I was instantly hooked. Reggie became my "idol", my "hero." I think for young kids, it takes a player who they think is "cool" for them to become addicted to a sport. Alot of kids go through the stage where a sports star is immortal in their eyes. Well, I was addicted to Reggie and the Pacers. I had jerseys, shirts, cards, everything.
As I grew older and began to understand the game of basketball more, I began to love the Pacers as a whole more, and knew that I would be a fan long after Reggie Miller retired. I'm 17, and I've witnessed a great amount of Pacers "history", and hopefully will witness alot more.
As some of you know, I was somewhat vocal about Reggie's contract that was given to him in 2003. I was upset about not keeping Brad Miller. I'm still upset about not keeping Brad Miller, but I feel almost silly now for whinning about the money Reggie was given. He put the team on his back this year, and he is the main reason we were in the playoffs.
When I think of Reggie, I'll always remember the Knicks-moments, the shot against the Bulls, 2000..............But it will be March and April of 2005 that come first to my memory. I will be forever grateful to him for putting this team on his back and carrying them into the playoffs. Yes, he obviously had plenty of help, but he was the spark. It was something that I will be forever thankful that I witnessed. March and April 2005 weren't Reggie's most impressive moments, but what transpired the past couple of months will always be something special in my eyes.
Pacer fans, we will see many more great players on this team. We obviously have one of the top players in the NBA in Jermaine O'Neal, who you can say is a better all around player than Reggie Miller ever was. But I don't think we will ever have a player that grabbed the city's heart as much as Reggie did. He is a class-act that leads by example.
Someday, when I'm taking my kids to games at Conseco Fieldhouse. I'll point to #31 in the rafters and say "I remember when that guy played here." I'll tell them all about the Reggie Miller era. I still can't believe how strange it will seem when I go to games next year and don't hear "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrregie Miller!"
I almost forget that we lost the game last night. Seeing that standing ovation for Reggie made the night a win for me. The hate I had towards Detroit all vanished during that ovation. I'll never forget the ovation they gave him. Just seeing Reggie get the respect he deserved made everything better for me. I'm glad his last game ever was in Indianapolis, where he could recieve an ovation from the fans that have loved him for 18 years.