For my speech class we had to give a ceremonial speech. It was a 4-6 minute speech. I chose to give the speech to retire Reggie's jersey. I thought all of you might appreciate this. I got an A on it (my professor is a big Reggie fan).
Tonight I am here for one reason and one reason only. Everyone in this building is here for that very same reason. We all come here tonight to honor greatness. We come here tonight to honor class. Most of all we come here tonight to honor all that is Indiana Pacers basketball. Tonight is dedicated to placing Reggie Miller in the ranks of all past NBA greats by having his jersey retired.
Reggie Miller had to overcome obstacles early in his life, by having to wear leg braces until he was four due to a hip defect. The doctors did not know if he could ever walk unassisted. They were wrong and when those leg braces came off at age five Reggie made up for lost time in athletics. When high school came around he began to play basketball. He did not exactly have the biggest frame in the world being 6’7’’ and 190 pounds. He sat the bench during his time in high school, until one day the kid who started over him brought the wrong jersey to the game. Reggie then started the game by default and showed everyone what he was made of. He knew he lacked size and power, but he made up for it with trash talk and overall skill.
Through college he kept the bad boy image wearing sunglasses indoors and calling himself “ffice:smarttags" />
lace w:st="on"> Hollywoodlace>”. Playing at UCLA he scored 2,095 points to become 2nd on the UCLA career scoring list, only behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. By the time the 1987 draft came around everyone around was sure the Pacers were going to take hometown hero Steve Alford as the 11th pick in the draft. Alford was Mr. Basketball and had led the Indiana Hoosiers to a NCAA Championship. However, Pacers General Manager Donnie Walsh saw something in the West Coast bad boy. lace w:st="on">Indianalace>
Reggie got better after each year that had passed in the league. By 1990, Reggie was chosen to play in the all-star game. It was the first Pacer to be chosen since 1977. By 1993, Miller had already become the Indiana Pacers all-time leading scorer. Reggie was becoming the go to guy. He was the poster child for Pacers Basketball. The fans who were angry about Walsh picking him in the draft over Alford now loved number 31. By 1994 the Pacers had won their first playoff series ever, and made it to the eastern conference finals against the New York Knicks. In the series Reggie scored 25 points in the fourth quarter of one of the games. He would also regain the bad boy image by having verbal battles with Knicks die-hard fan Spike Lee and by trash talking John Starks until Starks lost it and head-butted Reggie, receiving an ejection. Michael Jordan once said about playing the trash talking Reggie, “playing Reggie drives me nuts, it’s like chicken-fighting with a woman”.
Throughout the rest of the ‘90s it was a commonality to see Reggie and the Pacers in the playoffs. Reggie had helped turn this franchise around into a winning team. He was the face of the franchise. Finally in 2000, the Pacers made it to the only NBA finals appearance of Reggie’s career. Unfortunately, they lost to the Lakers four games to two. Reggie was getting older now becoming known to the team as Uncle Reggie. He was the leader of the team as well as a mentor to the younger NBA generation.
By the time the 2004 NBA season rolled around the Indiana Pacers were one of the favorites to win the NBA championship. This was the year to give Reggie what he had worked so hard for. Or so that is what everyone thought until November 19, 2004. That night a fight broke out among Detroit Pistons fans and the Indiana Pacers. Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson were suspended for almost a third of the season while the Pacers best defender, Ron Artest, was given a season-long suspension. Now the season of destiny was becoming a season of disaster. Reggie was only scoring about ten points per game before the brawl, but knew his team needed him since some of the core players were gone. The 39-year-old stepped up his game after the brawl and was playing like he was 25 again averaging almost twenty points per game. The season turned out better than expected given the situation, but the Pacers lost in the second round of the playoffs and Reggie knew it was time to move on.
Reggie will not only be remembered for his play on the court, but yet it was the contributions off the court that truly made a difference. After Reggie’s house was burnt down in the mid-nineties he started the Reggie Miller Foundation. This foundation raises money for burn victims. Each year he holds the annual “Reggie Bowl” which raises money for the foundation. During the 2001-02 season, Reggie donated $1,000 for every three point shot he made to the American Red Cross. The total money donated that season was $206,000
Reggie always welcomed a challenge and thrived in the face of adversity. Reggie Miller was transformed from the West Coast bad boy to the face of the Indiana Pacers. Fans that come to the games come to see Reggie perform. Reggie Miller put the Pacers on the map. Former teammate Mark Jackson summed up Reggie the best by saying, “Along with Michael Jordan, I believe he’s the greatest clutch player we have ever seen. He is a true professional with unbelievable heart, desire and dedication. He’s a great friend, he was a great teammate and true blessing, not just to
lace w:st="on"> Indianalace> basketball, but to basketball throughout the world.” There will forever be a place in every Pacer’s fans heart for number 31. Whether it’s the memories of the verbal battles with Spike Lee and the Knicks, scoring eight points in 8.9 seconds at lace w:st="on"> Madison Square Gardenlace>, or directing the team through the season of turmoil this past season he will be remembered as Indiana Pacers basketball. It is my honor to take Reggie Miller to a new height in his career, all the way up into the rafters of Conseco Fieldhouse. Thank you for eighteen loyal years Uncle Reg.
Just thought i would share it with the fine people of Pacers Digest that would appreciate it.