Originally published in SLAM 36
The 6th Man: Dear Reggie,
Listen, I owe you a big apology. I know you thought that the reason you finally made the cover of SLAM was because we let bygones be bygones and finally recognized that you were heir to Jordan’s throne. (Actually, that’s pretty much what we told your people, and our readers.)
Well, not exactly, Reg. As it turns, I sorta set you up for the greatest monkey-wrench known to professional hoops: the SLAM cover jinx. You see, Reggie, I still hate you. Never stopped, actually. And, even in the preseason, I knew that you were standing in the Knicks’ way, and I wanted to make sure that your Pacers didn’t have a chance. The Tonya Harding route was less-than-appetizing- then you’d be martyred, I figured, and that would be even worse than you winning. Not to mention, you know, Rikers Island is kinda crowded at this time of year.
The seeds of my deception were planted many moons ago-way back when SLAM put LJ (injured shortly thereafter) and Shawn Kemp (ditto) on the first two covers. Over the past five years, we’ve torpedoed everyone from Grant Hill to Rafer Alston, from Chris Webber to Jerry Stackhouse. It was never anything personal and I never designed to use SLAM’s powers for evil. Until now.
So you can rest easy knowing that your putrid play in the Eastern Conference Finals was not your fault, but ours. You didn’t suck out there, Reggie-even though it sure appeared like you did-and you most certainly didn’t choke-even though that’s what everyone thought that they’d seen. You, Reggie Miller, are the real victim here. You and those drunk, loser Pacers fans who threw stuff at the Knicks players and generally acted like barnyard animals.
Anyway, I’m telling you this not because I feel guilty or anything. Actually, I just wanted to deliver a simple message:
Maybe next year.
P.S. I already know your next question and no, we didn’t pay off your teammates to choke too. What they did, they did for free.