- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
In many ways Miller is little changed from the 22-year-old Walsh picked: same 6'7", 190-pound frame that fat forgot, same deep-set eyes and baby face framed by satellite-dish ears. Miller's game remains remarkably similar too. For some, this would be career suicide--even Jordan modified his style of play, becoming a small forward during his last comeback--but Miller is able to thrive because of his conditioning and his consistency. O'Neal believes that Miller's attitude, in practice and at games, has been key. "He never got down, even though this is it for him," says O'Neal. "He could have easily said, 'Donnie, Larry, I want to go someplace so I have a chance to win.' That's not who he is, though. He wants to win here, on his own terms."
Those terms include his pregame routine, which is stunning in what Carlisle calls its "military mind-set." Miller always wears the same type of shirt (long sleeve with the cuffs cut off), watches tape with the remote in the same hand at the same time and walks through only certain doors and hallways. He always runs a portable massaging device over hard surfaces in the locker room, creating a jackhammerlike din that he says serves as "a dinner bell" to inspire his teammates. Between 30 and 40 seconds before introductions he always goes to midcourt, faces the opponent's basket, dribbles between his legs until the buzzer sounds, then hoists a fadeaway three-pointer. If he misses that, he fires one more three; if he misses that, he shoots a layup.
Miller's most unusual custom, however, occurs about eight minutes before tip-off, when he walks over to media relations director David Benner, who gives him a Pepsi--unless the Pacers lost the previous game, in which case it's a Sprite. After taking a sip, Miller listens as Benner berates him briefly with good-natured jibes, then responds by getting in Benner's face and wagging his finger at him while cracking jokes about everything from Benner's hair to his clothes to his choice of music. (The only topics off-limits are Benner's wife and his dog.) Fans sometimes think they're actually fighting. Says Miller, "It started in Market Square Arena after he said something to me and I had a good game. We've been doing it ever since."
Though the undermanned Pacers are unlikely to advance deep into the playoffs, Miller will continue to prepare as he always has, in case he has a shot at one last miracle. For it is on those undisturbed pregame afternoons, when the sweat beads up and he says he can feel his "body rhythms calibrating," that he has steeled himself to quiet the most cacophonous of arenas at the most crucial of moments.
Just because he had attempted (6,452) and made (2,552) more treys through Sunday than any other NBA player in history doesn't mean Reggie Miller hasn't been a threat from inside the arc. He ranks among the top guards alltime in a variety of scoring categories unrelated to three-point shooting.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]�