Q+A: Reggie Miller
The ex-Pacers great elaborates on broadcasting, Open Court and the current NBA season.
SLAM: Are those the tricks you had up your sleeve during the lockout-shortened ’99 season?
RM: Well, we actually had our own little training camp in Indiana with Mark Jackson and Chris Mullin. I’d say we had 11, 12 guys that would commit and come back. We ran in the gym. We would put ourselves through a mini-training camp. I think that helped us. Guys were committed. We were an older team in ’98-99, so we kind of got it, as opposed to some of these younger teams that are like, ‘Hey, when they call us we’ll get together.’ We respected the game and we hired our own training staff. We went the whole nine yards.
SLAM: I was looking at your stats profile on basketball-reference.com. One thing that strikes me is the number of games you played each year—82, 82, 81, etc. Do you have an explanation for how you were able to stay so healthy throughout your career?
RM: I trained year-round. I think that was the key. After the season, I usually took, I would say, three weeks where I didn’t do anything—didn’t pick up a basketball, a weight, anything. Just to let the bumps and bruises of a seven- to eight-month NBA season heal itself. And then I would slowly start to jog, lift weights, yoga, mountain biking and then by the middle of July, end of July, August, I would start to shoot, work on things that you’re not particularly good at. I tried to stay in-shape year-round. A lot of guys, as soon as the season is over, they’ll take the whole summer off. That’s when you get into trouble and get hurt.
I was very fortunate to play so many games. I just loved to play. I felt that I was cheating the fans, whether at home or away, they’re paying good money. If I’m a little bit banged up or hurt, me at 70, 75 percent to me was better than a lot of these other guys at 100 percent. That’s how I felt because I put so much time and effort into my training.
RM: I will say my Pacers as well as the Philadelphia 76ers. There were a lot of question marks coming in, really, for both teams. Both teams are young and energetic. They have interchangeable pieces. But if you look at the landscape of the Eastern Conference, clearly Miami and Chicago are head and shoulders above everyone else. After that, not knowing what’s going to happen with Dwight Howard in Orlando, the New York Knicks, you don’t know… it was great that they got Tyson Chandler, but you look at some of their recent losses. They played well the last two games but they struggled at home against the Bobcats. Carmelo (Anthony) is having injury issues, (Iman) Shumpert just came back.
I put Indiana and Philly right in that category. They’re both well-coached with Frank Vogel [on Indiana]. I love Doug Collins. He’s got some studs. They play at both ends, you know they’re going to be in every game.
The Pacers rebound the ball particularly well. They have to figure out what they’re going to do offensively, but they’re grinding their way to victories, which is encouraging.
SLAM: Is (Danny) Granger the go-to guy? Can he be that guy?
RM: Uhhh, no. I think he’s a better No. 2, but isn’t that why you bring in David West, an All-Star who commands down low? The question with him is how is his [surgically-repaired left] knee going to hold up in a 66-game, truncated season. Granger is a better No. 2 than a No. 1.
SLAM: Right. David West is a phenomenal player, but you feel like a team needs to know who it’s going to go to down the stretch.
RM: I think that’s going to be one of the challenges for the Pacers is figuring out that dynamic between those two players. I wouldn’t discount Paul George. I think George is a fantastic young player who can get anywhere on the floor with the basketball. I wouldn’t mind putting the ball in his hands if you need a particular bucket. Not necessarily the only scorer but he can get anywhere he wants with the basketball.
SLAM: What’s a team that has disappointed you and why?
RM: Uhhh, I still think the World Champions (Dallas Mavericks) are in a home run trot [laughs]. I think they’re rounding second or third base here. But that’s to be expected. They are the oldest team in the League and in a 66-game schedule, with so many games per week, it’s tough for older players to really get up for every game. But I wouldn’t say I’m worried about that, though.
I don’t think these games are going to matter to teams like Boston, Dallas, San Antonio because of the personnel they have. Once you get into the Playoffs, where there’s usually a day or two of rest between each Playoff game, that’s when older teams have the advantage, as opposed to back-to-back-to-back nights or five games in six nights. I think they just want to get to the Playoffs health and, particularly, playing well.