Pacers raise Reggie Miller's No. 31 to rafters

INDIANAPOLIS -- The chant of "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!" filled
Conseco Fieldhouse one more time.

The cheer rang out from the full house Thursday night as Reggie
Miller, surrounded by his four siblings, pulled a rope that raised
a No. 31 banner into the rafters as the Indiana Pacers retired his
jersey number.

The halftime ceremony started with video highlights of Miller's
career, and the chant that was heard after many of his clutch
long-range shots began even before he had a chance to speak.

"I never imagined that I would earn my way to anyone's
rafters," he said.

Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh, who was greeted with boos when he
drafted the skinny UCLA guard in 1987, credited Miller with leading
the team to respectability after years as an NBA also-ran.

"You catapulted us into the elite of the NBA," Walsh told
Miller during the ceremony. "You have been the heart and soul of
this franchise for 18 years, and No. 31 deserves to go up with the
best of the best."

Miller spent his entire career with the Pacers and credited
Walsh, team president Larry Bird, team owners Melvin and Herbert
Simon and the fans for making his stay special.

"It's been an unbelievable 18-year career here," he said
before the game. "From Donnie to Larry to the Simon family, they
have been tremendous, not only to myself, but to my family. I've
been surrounded by a lot of love."

Miller, now a TNT basketball analyst, said he was honored to
have his number sent to the rafters less than a year after his

"Those things usually take time, but the Pacers always do
things first class," he said.

He was first Pacer from the team's NBA days to have his number
retired, joining ABA stars Roger Brown, Mel Daniels and George
McGinnis and former coach Bobby "Slick" Leonard as the only such
honorees in franchise history.

Miller ended his career last season as the NBA's all-time leader
in 3-point goals. He was a five-time All-Star, led the NBA in free
throw percentage five times and is No. 12 on the league's career
scoring list.

Matt Reiswerg, 25, wore a replica of Miller's white UCLA jersey
to Thursday's game, attending with his father, Joe, a Pacers
season-ticket holder since 1976. Matt Reiswerg tied Miller's career
to fond childhood memories of watching games with his father and

"He was the guy who always wanted to take the shot," Reiswerg
said. "He always wanted the ball in his hands."

The Pacers never won a championship during Miller's career, but
he was their key player as the franchise gained its first taste of
success in years after joining the NBA in 1976. The Pacers reached
the Eastern Conference finals six times and the NBA Finals once
during his career.

"He's the most significant player in the last 20 years, maybe
30," Walsh said. "Since our ABA days. Reggie is the one who made
our transformation to the NBA real."

Joe Reiswerg said Miller's absence tells as much about him as
his presence did. The Pacers entered Thursday's game with a 35-35

"It's obvious the team misses him," he said. "He was the
heart and soul of the team. He held that team together. Now,
they're a ship without a rudder."

It was the first such ceremony for the Pacers in more than a
decade. Leonard's was the most recent, in 1996. Brown, McGinnis and
Daniels were honored in a joint ceremony in 1985. All were with the
team during the late-1960s to mid-1970s, when the Pacers won three
ABA championships.

Miller said he was honored to be in such company.

"I'm not comfortable with it, but I'll take it."