Q+A: Reggie Miller
The ex-Pacers great elaborates on broadcasting, Open Court and the current NBA season.
SLAM: The Portland Trail Blazers are an interesting team. They’re obviously a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Do you consider them to be a title contender?
RM: I do. You look at what the Blazers have gone through, especially at the start of this season with (Greg) Oden and his injury and the retirement of Brandon Roy. You look at some of their studs—Gerald Wallace, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Raymond Felton and finally, an All-Star in my opinion this year, LaMarcus Aldridge, they have all the pieces. What’s so interesting about this season is you can play great one night and the next night, you disappear. They beat the crap out of the Lakers on our network and the next night they go to Phoenix and get ran out of the building.
It’s going to be one of those seasons. I was watching the games [Monday] night. The New Orleans Hornets go into Denver—I like Denver’s team—and they beat them by 20. On a given night, anyone can beat anyone. Which is great; that’s what you want. You want parody. You don’t just want three or four teams dominating the League and everyone else is trying to get all the scraps. On a given night, anyone can be beat.
SLAM: This is a little hypothetical. If Dwyane Wade were to miss a significant chunk of this season with his left foot injury, you think that affects the Heat come Playoff time?
RM: I am going to tell you this. That win they had against Atlanta [on January 5] without [James and Wade]; that’s going to speak volumes for the Heat as the season goes on. Terrell Harris and (Udonis) Haslem and the way (Mario) Chalmers played—if I’m Erik Spoelstra, having James and Wade out was a blessing in disguise. He found out that he does have depth on that bench.
Now, would I want to play Playoff games with those guys? No. But it shows that if someone goes down with a tweaked ankle for a quarter or two quarters or, possibly, a game, the Heat can go into their reserve bank and play guys major minutes and have them contribute.
I’m not worried about Wade missing significant time because you still have LeBron James and Chris Bosh. But it’s great to have all three of them. If he has to miss time, I think the Heat are going to be just OK.
SLAM: Yeah, the Heat were able to fend off Ivan The Terrible [Ivan Johnson].
RM: [Laughs] Ivan The Terrible! Where is this kid coming from?!
SLAM: Henry Abbott had an interesting blog post recently about players setting moving screens. Is that something that you notice that happens a lot in today’s game? What do you think about it?
RM: That’s always gone on. That’s how my law firm of [Antonio] Davis & [Dale] Davis made their living was setting those kinds of screens to get me open. [Laughs] I will say this: The League and the officiating crew are doing a better job of calling it. See how big these guys are now? There’s only so much space out there. I think the prevailing thought is, and what a lot of coaches think, is they can’t call everything. And they won’t call everything. So, do as much as you can to get away with it and if they call it then you adjust your game. There’s only so much space out there.
SLAM: To your point, Abbott did tie this back to how Patrick Ewing was taught to set screens and then Ewing passing it on to big men he’s coached, such as Yao Ming and Dwight Howard.
RM: Yeah, well, I think Dwight, along with Andrew Bynum, may be our last big guy with that big behind for those moving screens.
SLAM: Given that there’s a lot of talk about players having off-nights with this kind of schedule, do you think that players should accept that referees may also have off-nights because of their travel schedules?
RM: Absolutely, absolutely. We’re talking about back-to-back-to-back nights. Well, that’s a common occurrence for officials. So, imagine in this type of 66-game schedule. I’m sure there are officials working five, six nights straight. And they’re human. They’re going to make mistakes. I’ve been the biggest conspiracy theorist and getting on officials. Again, being on this side and having a chance to work with them, going to their camps and sitting down and watching tape with them. It’s a different experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if an official has an off-night.
What’s great for them is that they do have things at their disposal, such as instant replay and things like that, to help them out, especially in late-game situations.
SLAM: Who are your picks in the Playoffs?
RM: We’ll go with Miami and Chicago in the East with Miami winning in seven games. Originally, I had Oklahoma City and Memphis in my Western Conference Finals. Once Zach Randolph got hurt, I’m not sure [Memphis] will be the same team once he comes back. So, I’m still going to go with Oklahoma City and I know a lot of people like that Portland team. Look, until someone…I like the Lakers. I know that’s probably taboo to say, but I like the Lakers and Oklahoma City with Oklahoma City winning in six [games].
SLAM: Oklahoma City exacting revenge on the Lakers from a couple years ago.
SLAM: At least you didn’t make the Chris Broussard pick of the Clippers in the NBA Finals [that he made on ESPN's NBA Countdown].
RM: Look, a lot of people in L.A., where I live, are drinking the [Clippers'] Kool-aid. They might not even be one of the top four teams in the Western Conference. I have to see a lot more. I do have a game of theirs coming up next week or the week after, so that will be interesting to see.