Q+A: Reggie Miller
The ex-Pacers great elaborates on broadcasting, Open Court and the current NBA season.
SLAM: My favorite program I’ve watched over the last couple years on any channel, in any category, has been Open Court.
RM: How great was that?
SLAM: I still watch some of the same episodes four or five times just because it’s so much fun to hear the back-and-forth among you, Charles, Shaq, everyone. What did you take away from that experience?
RM: I think really that show came from, and I’m sure you can talk to the higher-ups, but they saw how all of us interacted with one another in the green room when we watch games. How we’re just commenting off-the-cuff. All those topics, we had no idea that we were going to talk about them. But we had talked about them before with one another, about Hakeem vs Ewing or who’s the best closer. Those topics, it was the producer saying, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to talk about next.’ There was no preparation, no one could come up with stories. I think that’s what made it so great because guys, on the fly, thought of their funniest stories or their serious stories. That’s what made for compelling TV. But that’s how we are when we get together. We talk about some of the craziest things.
SLAM: What player did you learn more about than any other from that show?
RM: Uhhh, I would say Steve Smith. The reason why I say that is Smitty and I, playing the shooting guard position, had a lot of battles together. You really tried to build up a wall against your opponent, especially if you’re facing up in the Playoffs or playing the same position. So, maybe throughout our careers I didn’t try to get to know him that well. Now that we’re with the same television company and we’re doing games together, you see him in a different light.
SLAM: I have a column that I write on SLAMonline every Friday, and last week I had an interview with David Benner.
RM: Ben-oit, my guy!
SLAM: He told me this story that you had originally referenced on Open Court, in which you would fake talk trash to him before games to get yourself psyched up. David was telling me that late in your career, you guys were in Milwaukee. He saw a fan wearing your jersey and he went up to him. The fan said he got the jersey for half-price because you were half the player you used to be.
RM: [Laughs] I like that. I like that. [David] probably incorporated that into our little skit.
SLAM: David said it kind of pissed you off and that you had a really good game. Do you remember that?
RM: I don’t remember that but that’s pretty good. I like that.
SLAM: What did it do for your game to say pretty much whatever you wanted to David and not have him take it personally?
RM: Well, we established that early. Look, we’ll never really cross the line. I will say some things that may be offensive to you, Benner, but just know that this is all in fun and that I love you. We understood that when we first started doing this. It just escalated into saying crazy, wild things towards one another. I didn’t know it became bigger than it really was. It just started off with two goofballs before the game trying to psyche each other up for a game, [hypothetically], in January on a Tuesday when it’s 20-below degrees in Milwaukee or Cleveland with 8,000 people in the stands. It started off as something like that and it built up.
I’m proud to say that he is one of my good friends, with as much crap as I gave him over the years. David Benner is one of those guys who you can actually lean on and trust and go to and ask for advice. I wouldn’t say that about a lot of PR guys.
SLAM: It seems like that’s a relationship that’s never talked about—the NBA player and the PR guy. You guys see each other every single day.
RM: They are in your lives, especially if you’re one of the star players. You have media requests just about every day. So, they’re in your lives more than your kids or your wife, girlfriend or whatever. There are some who I’ve come across on other teams, being on this [TV] side, who can be, kind of, jerks. I was just lucky and fortunate enough to have David Benner my whole career, which is great. They come and go very easily. He’s a very loyal guy.
SLAM: Let’s change the topic a little bit. Have any current NBA players come to you for advice about keeping their bodies going through this lockout-shortened season?
RM: They never came to me, but I called a few players. I called Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, I called George Hill, who’s now on the Pacers. Jeff Foster was around at the time of the first lockout, but I just wanted to give him advice. So, I would call certain players and just tell them to do certain things because you never knew when it was going to end. I never wanted any of these players to get 100 percent out of shape, but you didn’t want to be 80 percent in-shape in September, and look when [the season] started.
I just told them to do certain alternative things, whether it be bike riding or cycling. Always keep your body to where, if you do have to push yourself, it would be easy for you to get in shape.