Originally said by Reggie Miller:
It should have been us, not the New York Knicks, in the NBA Finals. It should have been us against the Houston Rockets for the world championship. It should have been us playing for the ring.
Should have been...
Could have been...
Instead, we got beat by New York in the '94 Eastern Conference Finals. And the year before that we got beat by New York in the first round of the playoffs.
I'm telling you right now, I hate the Knicks. Absolutely hate those kids.
I'm not saying we would have won the world title, but we should have been there to find out. Instead, we lost to the same team for the second straight year. Three games to one in '93, four games to three this past June.
I cried in the locker room after the game seven loss in New York, and it still hurts to think about both of those series. I guess every team has its demons. The Knicks are ours.
I never used to hate the Knicks. But then came the '93 playoff series against them, and all that changed. Now I can't stand that team.
They beat us in the best-of-five series, but not before John Starks made a complete *** of himself-- which, if you think about it, isn't unusual. I had never had any problems with Starks before the series. He had always played hard, tough basketball, and I respected that. But on the first play of the first game, I drove to the hoop and he gave me a shot in the back.
"Whoa, John, what's up?" I said.
"It's going to be like that all this ******* series," he said.
Hey, I figure, it's the playoffs, so I let it go.
On the second play of the game, I got to the top of the key, made a move to the hoop, and he fouled me again, giving me an elbow to the throat. Two plays, two fouls.
I looked at him, and he said, "*****, it's going to be like that all series. I'm just going to let you know that right now."
Well, first of all, you don't ever call me "*****." I call you that. That's my
game, my house. I'm listening to Starks and I'm thinking, "This guy don't know who he's dealing with."
Those two fouls changed my whole way of thinking about those guys. I went into that series not knowing if we could beat the Knicks, but those first couple of plays changed my whole attitude. They beat us, but their intimidation tactics didn't make the difference. They were the New York Knicks, and we were the small-market Pacers, but once the series started it was just basketball, and that stuff didn't give them any edge. That gave us confidence, and that series was the last time I ever questioned myself and our team. It was also the last time Starks was stupid enough to call me "*****."
Game on of that series was the beginning of the ongoing Starks-Reggie confrontation. I didn't start it, he did, but damn if I was going to let him get the last word. From then on I tried to make life hell for the Knicks-- especially Starks.
I scored 36 in a three-point loss in game one. It wasn't just the points, though; I was in a zone just talking ****. I don't think about what I say. It just comes out. It's best when I don't have any set things to say, it's just natural.
In that first game when I started to get on a roll and I was scoring point after point, I'd look at the scoreboard and say to Starks, "Miller 26, John Starks 5. You ever gonna score tonight?"
That would **** me off if someone said that to me. And I know it pissed off Starks. But I wasn't about to let up, so I told him, "You should have never touched me in the first place. In fact, I think you kind of like me."
Oh, man, you could see him steaming. And every time I said something to him, I made sure I turned and acted like I was talking to the referee. That way if he decided to try something, the referee would see him do it. Hey, it's a war out there. You play every angle you can.
We lost game two, too. One more defeat and we were out. We went back to Indianapolis for game three, and it was close. One time there was a loose ball, and Starks stuck his feet out to trip me. I jumped over his feet because I knew what he was trying to do. I fell, and as I was rolling I made sure I kicked him in the face. I just wanted him to know that I was on to his cheap ****.
He got up all upset, but the referee didn't see the kick because I was sliding on the ground. But I'll admit it: I was purposely trying to kick him in the face, but only because he tried to knock me over with that move of his.
A couple of plays later he came down the lane-- this was in the third quarter, and the game was close-- and made a very nice move and then a nice shot over me. I thought, "That's kind of sweet." I kind of elbowed him on the play as we were running down the court, and, well, he snapped.
If you look at the videotape, you'll see him running at me, pointing at me like some psycho man. It was hilarious. The whole time I was thinking, "This is going to be the perfect opportunity to bait this ***** into something."
So I walked up to him like I was going to confront him. Then I put my hands up real quick like I wanted no part of him. Jimmy Clark, one of the refs, was looking at me. All of a sudden, John head-butts me. Starks's little hollow head didn't hurt, but I didn't want Clark to know that, so I do some Academy Award-level acting and fall out of bounds from the supposed force of Starks's mighty pop. It was a great fake fall. You would have thought I'd been shot in a battle, that I'd suffered a concussion, that I needed a CAT scan.
Of course, Clark teed Starks up with a flagrant foul and then kicked him out of the game. Our crowd went nuts, and so did Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. They were pushing Starks and saying, "How dumb can you be, you dumbass?" That's because the score was tied at the time. After that, they were dead.
Rolando Blackman came in, and I knew he had no chance of guarding me. Too old. Then they sent in Hubert Davis, who was a rookie at the time. Too young. I scored 36, and we won, 116-93.
That was one of those games where I felt I couldn't miss a shot. It also was the first time I ever felt in a shooting zone at home. I've always shot well on the road, gotten into one of those zones, but never at home. I don't know why. That's really wild, isn't it, to play much better on the road?
I was making everything that game-- an absolute shooting frenzy. I remember getting the ball right in front of the Knicks' bench at the "short three" (Before they changed the three-point line, the "short three" was the shortest distance, twenty-two feet, to the hoop. [Hicks edit-- don't know where the line is now compared to when this was written]) I could hear the crowd and the fans yelling, "Three!" Then I heard Charles Oakley on the benching yelling, "Reggie! Reggie!"
I took the shot, and soon as the ball left my hands-- and remember the ball hadn't even gone through the net yet-- I turned around and said to Oakley and the rest of the them, "Take this, you *****es. You *****es aren't as tough as you say you are."
Well, the ball was still in the air. I just stood there talking **** to them. Pat Riley was standing right there, and I was telling his team, "You *****es aren't as tough as everybody says you are." Fans behind the bench were going crazy, and Oakley was busting up laughing at me. I must have cried when I saw the tape of that. But the ball went right through-- all net, I must have looked like a madman, but when I step on the court I became a different person. Always have been that way.
That's how it was in our seven-game series against the Knicks in June. People say it was the best series of the entire playoffs that year, and I think they're right. I just wish I could have changed one thing: the ending.