Reginald Wayne Miller
August 24, 1965 in Riverside, California
Riverside Polytechnic (Riverside, California)
University of California (1984-1987)
Indiana Pacers, 11th Overall, 1987 NBA Draft
Knick Killer, Miller Time
G - 1389
FG% - .471
3PFG% - .395
FT% - .889
Points - 25,279
PPG - 18.2
Rebounds - 4,182
RPG - 3.0
Assists - 4,141
APG - 3.0
Blocks - 299
BPG - 0.2
Steals - 1505
SPG - 1.1
5 x NBA All-Star, 3 x All NBA Third Team, 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist, 1994 FIBA World Champion, 50-40-90 Club, J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, 1 x PAC 10 Champion, 1 x NIT Champion, Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2012)
High School and College
Miller attended Riverside Polytechnic High School, California. He then attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he received a degree in history. In the 1984-1985 NCAA season he helped the UCLA Bruins to an NIT championship. In his senior season, 1986-1987, he led the Bruins to a Pacific-10 regular season championship and the first Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament championship. The Three-point field goal was instituted for the 1986-1987 season; 69 of his 247 field goals were from three point range that year. One of his most memorable performances was in the January 24, 1987 game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, where he hit a clutch 24-foot (7.3 m) shot to put the Bruins ahead 61-59 with 10 seconds left to play. Another notable game was a win against the defending national champions Louisville Cardinals and "Never nervous" Pervis Ellison on February 28, 1987. Miller scored 33 points in the second half, which is still a school record.
His final game was a loss in the second round of the 1987 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament to the Wyoming Cowboys. He finished second in all-time scoring at UCLA behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As of 2009, he still holds the UCLA single-season records for most league points, highest league scoring average, and most free throws. He also holds several individual game records.
Miller was selected by the Pacers with the 11th pick in the 1st round of the 1987 NBA Draft. Fans were initially upset that the Pacers chose Miller over Indiana University product and New Castle, Indiana native Steve Alford; fans watching the 1987 NBA Draft booed Pacers President Donnie Walsh for the selection. Miller wore jersey
number 31 while playing on the Pacers, backing up shooting guard John Long before he became a starter. Miller gained a respectable reputation following early in his career as he helped turn the Pacers into a perennial playoff team.
After Chuck Person was traded from the Pacers during the 1992 offseason, Miller established himself as the primary scoring threat for the Pacers. On November 28, 1992, he scored 57 points against the Charlotte Hornets at Charlotte Coliseum in a 134-122 win. In this game, Miller was 16 for 29 from the field, including 4 for 11 from 3-point range, and 21 for 23 from the free throw line. His 57 points was the highest single-game total for a player in the 1992-93 season, and still stands today as the Pacers single-game record.
Miller became a household name during the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks, due to his phenomenal shooting performance in Game 5 of the series on June 1, 1994, in which he scored 39 points total and 25 in the 4th quarter of the Pacers' 93-86 victory at Madison Square Garden. Miller made several very long three-pointers during the quarter and engaged in an animated discussion of his ongoing performance with noted Knicks fan Spike Lee, who was, as always, seated courtside. The win gave the Pacers a 3-2 series lead over the heavily favored Knicks, but the Pacers lost the next two games and thus the series.
On May 7, 1995, Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Knicks, leading the Pacers to a stunning 107-105 victory. With 18.7 seconds remaining and the Pacers trailing by six points, Miller made a three-point shot, stole the inbounds pass from Greg Anthony, dribbled back to the three-point arc and tied the game with a second three-pointer, stunning the Knicks bench and their fans. On the ensuing possession, Knicks guard John Starks was fouled by Pacer Sam Mitchell. Starks missed both free throws, and although Patrick Ewing managed to rebound the second miss, his shot rattled out. Miller rebounded the ball, was fouled, and made both free throws. Trailing by two points, the New York Knicks had one last chance to tie or win the game, but failed to get a shot off, giving the Pacers a shocking 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Pacers outlasted the Knicks in seven games before losing to the Orlando Magic in the conference finals in seven games, also four games to three, just like the previous year. Near the end of the 1996 season, Miller fell to the floor and suffered an eye injury, leaving him unable to play in the playoffs until before Game 5 of the first round against the Atlanta Hawks by wearing goggles. The Pacers lost to the Hawks and were eliminated.
The Pacers made their next appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals three years later. On May 25, 1998, the Pacers trailed the Chicago Bulls two games to one in the series and were behind 94-93 in Game 4 at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis with less than three seconds remaining. Miller got free from Michael Jordan, caught the inbounds pass from Derrick McKey, turned and made a game-winning three-point shot. The Pacers eventually pushed the series to a decisive seventh game in Chicago, a game in which the Pacers led in the fourth quarter before fading in the final two minutes. The Bulls took the series and went on to win their sixth and final championship with Jordan, Pippen, and company.
Following Jordan's retirement, Miller and the Pacers were considered one of the favorites in the East heading into the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. After earning the #2 seed in the East, the Pacers once again met the rival Knicks in the Conference Finals. That series came to a disappointing end for Indiana, as the eighth-seeded Knicks upset the Pacers in six games. In the decisive Game 6, Miller had one of the worst performances of his career, scoring just 8 points on 3-of-18 shooting from the field. He also missed seven of his eight three-point attempts.
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers on May 6, 2000, Miller and teammate Jalen Rose each scored 40 points—becoming the highest-scoring pair of teammates in playoff history; in the Pacers' 108-91 victory. The Pacers won that series 4-2 and returned to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth time in seven years. This time they finally crashed through the gates, defeating the rival Knicks four games to two. The deciding Game 6 at the world-famous Madison Square Garden on June 2, 2000 was sealed by Miller's 34 points, half (17) of which came in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers thus advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, facing the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Pacers lost the series and the championship four games to two, but Miller put on a shooting clinic in the Pacers' resounding Game 5 win that staved off elimination, scoring 25 points in the game. Miller averaged 24.3 points per game for the series.
In 2002, Miller almost single-handedly eliminated the top seed and eventual Eastern Conference Champion New jersey
Nets in the fifth and final game of the first round of the playoffs. First, following two missed free throws from New Jersey's Richard Jefferson, Miller sent the game into overtime by banking in a 39-foot (12 m) three-point shot at the buzzer. Next, with the Pacers down by 2 points in the final seconds of the first overtime, Miller drove into the lane and dunked over three Nets defenders to send the game into a second overtime period. While the Pacers would eventually fall to the Nets 120-109, that game had added another chapter to Miller's legacy as a clutch performer.
End of Career
In the twilight of his career, Miller deferred his leadership role to All-Star teammate Jermaine O'Neal. Miller was an important locker-room leader for his team and served as an inspiration to his teammates who wanted to "win one [a championship] for 'Uncle Reg'". While Miller was no longer the team's leading scorer, he remained a go-to player in clutch time to the very end of his career. O'Neal's respect for Miller was most evident on January 4, 2005, when after scoring 55 points against the Milwaukee Bucks, O'Neal agreed to be taken out of the game with 1:43 remaining to preserve Miller's team record of 57 points in a game.
In 2005, following the lengthy suspensions of star teammates O'Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Ron Artest for a brawl with fans in Detroit, Miller showed he could still score points in bunches, averaging nearly 20 points per game for stretches of the season. He even scored 39 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 18 at the age of 39. In January, Miller angrily shot down rumors that he would retire at the end of the season, saying that if he did decide to retire, he would announce it through his sister Cheryl Miller. On February 10, Cheryl, now a sideline reporter for TNT, reported that her brother had told her the previous day that he would indeed retire. On April 11, in a game against the Toronto Raptors, Miller passed Jerry West to move into 12th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Miller's last game was on May 19, 2005, at Conseco Fieldhouse, when the Pacers lost 88-79 to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, ending the series four games to two. In the game, Miller led the Pacers with 27 points, making 11 out of 16 field goals including four of eight 3-pointers. When he was taken out with 15.7 seconds to play, the Indianapolis crowd gave him a last standing ovation, where there were many teary eyes. Pistons coach (and former Pacers coach) Larry Brown then called an additional timeout during which the Pistons players joined in the ovation, providing closure not only to Miller's career but also to a season that had been largely overshadowed by the early-season brawl between the two teams.
Over his 18-year NBA career Miller played in 1,389 games for the Pacers, sixth-most in NBA history and second-most for a player who spent his career with only one team.