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Brown has been lobbying for clutch shooter

5/23/2004 - Reggie Miller

INDIANAPOLIS -- If USA basketball coach Larry Brown had his
way, Reggie Miller would be making clutch 3-pointers -- like the one he hit in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals -- in Athens this summer.

Miller said Sunday that he's flattered by Brown's desire to have
him on the Olympic team, but wavered on whether he would accept an
invitation.

"I'm a little too old for that," the 38-year-old Miller said.
"It's quite an honor. I'm not saying no. But right now I'm just in
the moment in the Eastern Conference finals. I'll evaluate
everything after this."'

Miller showed everyone why he would be an asset to the Olympic
team on Saturday night at Brown's expense.

After missing his first six shots from the field, he drilled a
3-pointer with 31.7 seconds left to propel his Indiana Pacers to a
78-74 win over Brown's Detroit Pistons and a 1-0 lead in the
best-of-seven series.

Before Game 1, Brown said he had been "begging" the USA
basketball selection committee to pick Miller because he would
bring veteran leadership and an uncanny ability to make the big
shot.

"He would be great with all the guys leaving," Brown said.

Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Karl Malone, Elton Brand, Kevin
Garnett, Ray Allen and Vince Carter have all withdrawn citing
injuries, fatigue or family issues.

Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy McGrady and Mike Bibby
are also on the fence, something Miller has a hard time
understanding.

"I know a lot of guys are dropping out, which is very
unfortunate," Miller said.

He said winning an NBA title is the only honor greater than
playing for your country and the fact that so many top players have
decided to pass will weigh heavily in his decision.

Miller has plenty of experience playing under international
rules, which are different from the NBA game. He played for U.S.
teams at the 1996 Olympics and the 2002 World Championships.

Brown's team could include Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, McGrady,
Richard Jefferson, Bibby, LeBron James, Stephon Marbury, Shawn
Marion and Amare Stoudemire -- none of whom has any Olympic
experience.

Aside from his age, the biggest thing that appears to be holding
Miller back from wholeheartedly embracing the idea is the chance of
injury.

At the 2002 World Championships, Miller badly injured his right
ankle, which led to a miserable season last year.

"I hurt my ankle the second time around, which made me a step
slower," he said.

He missed the first 12 games of the 2002-03 season while
recovering and never regained his old form.

To top it off, Miller had his worst playoff performance of his
career in a first-round loss to Boston, the Pacers' third straight
first-round playoff exit.

This year has been entirely different. With coach Rick
Carlisle closely monitoring his minutes and the ankle feeling good
again, Miller is once again a factor for the Pacers.

His improved health, coupled with the chance to represent his
country under Brown, who coached him with the Pacers from 1993-97,
might be enough to sway the sharpshooter.

Brown can only hope.

"He's the best I've ever seen," Brown said of Miller's ability
to make clutch shots. "You let up on him one time and he kills
you."