Isiah was going to bring Reggie off the bench this season.
ASSIGNING PLAYOFF BLAME
June 1, 2004 -- IN back-to-back games, Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle took turns kneeling at the interview altar. They couldn't wait to confess their sins. It was their fault their teams were unprepared. They were to blame, not the players, for not understanding what had to be done and what to expect. "We accept full responsibility for our team's losses," they echoed.
It doesn't get any more nauseating.
Assigning guilt trips is our job. We in the media are in charge of levying liability, not coaches conspiring to churn out misinformation. We're more than capable of deciding who's accountable. It's insulting to think they think they can work us like we're referees.
Then again, Carlisle is correct. He definitely has earned a demerit badge in this series, especially in Game 5. Matching your team's oldest and leakiest defender against your opponent's fastest flowing faucet is a bit baffling. Not making a switch until the 61/2 minute mark of Sunday's third quarter, after Rip Hamilton had amassed the majority of 27 points at Reggie Miller's expense, was resourcefully negligent.
At the most, this approach should be employed sparingly since the Pacers are blessed with Ron Artest, the league's lock-up artist and the aerodynamically acclaimed Fred Jones. It should be used explicitly, it says here, when the 38-year-old Indiana Bones is looking more like Indiana Osteoporosis. Apparently Carlisle isn't paying attention.
One of the most bald-faced lies perpetrated by the propaganda machines at ABC, TNT and ESPN is that Miller should be commended for deferring to Jermaine O'Neal, Artest and Co, and that the NBA's all-time offshore driller and one of its most poisonous pressure players deserves a gold star for accepting a lesser role the last couple years.
What a crock! Miller embraced a diminished function, fewer shots and half the payday simply because he can't manufacture points in bunches on a remotely consistent basis (only an occasional game-winner) as he once could.
Not only that, he's frequently not even looking for his shot. Worse yet, he's passing up wide-open 3-pointers in must-shoot situations, resulting in forever-botched opportunities to gain ground. Worst of all, the referees have turned on him, an instantly recognizable sign a consecrated career is crashing.
Nearing the half in Game 5, Miller lofted up one of his patented kick-out springers from the corner in an attempt to fake the official into putting him on the welfare line. What he got was an offensive foul.
Considering the game's significance and the fact the Pacers were trailing at the time the 17-year veteran of domestic and international competition should've been cagey enough to restrain his emotions. Instead he picked up a technical. Shortly thereafter O'Neal also lost his composure, getting T-ed up over a non-call by Steve Javie.
The Pacers quickly followed their leaders down the drain.
Miller failed to pinpoint the roots of the unraveling, noting a lack of ball movement and individualistic urges as the cause for Indy's decline. The fast fading luminary, who scored all five of his points in the first quarter, took no responsibility for leading his team astray or failing to do anything to re-direct its course.
Naturally, no one dared ask Miller or Carlisle why Reggie was guarding Hamilton at all or so long, and why he was even out there if he refused to shoot unmolested 3-pointers.
If anything, in an often-heartless business, the Simon brothers, CEO Donnie Walsh and president Larry Bird have rewarded Miller, even to the team's detriment, with unusual loyalty and gift giving. Don't forget, they choose to pay Reggie an average of $5.5 million over three seasons rather than invest in Brad Miller over seven seasons; think the Pacers could've used his perimeter and passing repertoire against Detroit?
If anything, Isiah Thomas (planning to bring Reggie off the bench this season had he stayed) and now Carlisle (playing him more in the playoffs than the regular season) deferred to Miller as opposed to the other way around.
Reality bites, hard.
Can't think of a more appropriate time to hear Michael Jordan's reason for trading Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse not long after he'd volunteered to caving under the playoff pressure of having to be the Pistons' go-to guy.