INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Miller wanted to wait until the end
of the season to announce his retirement.
An unexpected report by TNT reporter Craig Sager a couple weeks
ago, however, forced Miller to accelerate his plans.
"When Sager somewhat outed me, it kind of put me on front
street, as well as my family, because my family had no idea either.
It was almost like it forced my hand," Miller said Friday,
confirming what his sister, Cheryl, disclosed on TNT the previous
Reggie, the NBA's most prolific 3-point shooter, had seen his
scoring decline in recent years with the development of younger
Indiana players such as Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest, and he had
hinted all season that this would be his last.
"Let's get it over and move on," said Miller, who will turn 40
this summer. "I believe it's time. I've always said when I felt
this organization and franchise and the players were able to take
the next step it would be time for me to move on."
The five-time All-Star is sixth in NBA career minutes and 14th
in scoring with 24,696 points. The one thing missing from his
impressive resume is an NBA championship, and he knows he may never
get it now because of the free-for-all in Detroit in November, when
Artest charged into the stands and triggered a brawl with fans.
The incident cost Miller a one-game suspension. O'Neal was
banished for 25 games -- later reduced to 15 -- Stephen Jackson had
to sit out 30 games and Artest was booted for the rest of the
season. Through the turmoil, the Pacers dipped below .500, putting
their playoff chances in jeopardy and perhaps ending all hopes for
a farewell championship for Miller.
"What happened in Detroit gave me a little more motivation to
work harder because I knew we were going to be short-handed for
such a long period of time," Miller said. "That was another
reason I didn't want to say anything [about retirement]. The focus
shouldn't be on me. It should be on the team.
"But I'm not going to let this year ruin 17 others that have
been fantastic. Another thing, this isn't a death sentence. We're
still in the playoffs and we still can beat a lot of other teams if
we play the right way."
He said his decision is final.
"I have a few projects in the works, but right now we have 33
games left and that's my focus," Miller said. "There's no Michael
Jordan thing going on, nothing like that."
Miller's shooting and his ability to "flop" -- drawing contact
and falling as he releases the ball, almost guaranteeing a trip to
the free throw line -- infuriated opposing players but also won
"He's a guy that when I played against him I wanted to smack
him," said former Knicks great Patrick Ewing, now an assistant
coach with Houston. "But all I can do is take my hat off to him.
He was one of the purest shooters to play the game."
He's regarded as a villain by many New York fans, even now, but
he still gets their grudging admiration.
"They respect him. Whatever he's done, they still respect
him," Ewing said. "We had our wars, but he is a competitor."
Miller called Pacers coach Rick Carlisle on Thursday to tell him
of his decision.
"When you have an announcement like this, it gets your
attention and makes you swallow hard," Carlisle said. "It adds
extra meaning to these 33 games."
Only John Stockton, who was with Utah for 19 years, played
longer than Miller with just one team.
"It is so easy to get traded or become a free agent and force a
sign and trade nowadays that when you see guys like Reggie and
Stockton and people like that making a steadfast commitment to a
franchise, there is a special meaning there," Carlisle said.
The closest Miller has come to a championship was in 2000, when
the Pacers lost to the Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals.
"There's no ideal situation that I'm going to leave on,"
Reggie said. "Last year would have been great -- getting to the
Eastern Conference finals. ... But I just want our team to play
better. That's the most important thing. I would be happy if our
team just played consistently, win or lose."