Former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller had numerous nicknames during his playing days. Among them were Uncle Reg, Funk, The Knick Killer, and Mighty Mouth. Filmmaker and New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee was quite familiar with the last two as Miller was known for his clutch performances against the Knicks and more than happy to trash talk about it.
The most memorable of Miller’s playoff games happened in 1995 when the Indiana Pacers star pulled off the improbable, scoring eight points in nine seconds to stun the Knicks in an unbelievable Game 1 victory in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, a couple of years before, Miller and the filmmaker made a friendly wager on a series. Miller lost and had to visit Mike Tyson in prison. It didn’t go well.
Reggie Miller and Spike Lee’s feud
During the 1990s, it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks would square off in the playoffs. The two teams battled for playoff supremacy six times during the decade. And that’s when the “feud” between Miller and Knicks uber-fan and actor/director Spike Lee was born.
Whenever the two teams played in New York, playoffs or not, it was guaranteed excitement and a show within the show. Lee and Miller jawed back and forth at each other throughout the contest.
While it was fiery during the heat of battle, the two were actually cordial with one another off the court and developed a friendship. Miller’s propensity to rip out Knicks fans’ hearts was so notable it became an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary in 2010 called “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks,” and featured Miller and Lee.
Pacers lose to Knicks in 1993
The first playoff meeting between the two teams in the 1990s happened in the 1992-93 season. Reggie Miller had yet to earn his nicknames. That all changed during that series in Game 3.
Miller and Knicks guard John Starks were trash-talking throughout the series and it went to an entirely different level in that third game. That’s when Miller accomplished what he set out to do and got under Starks’ skin, who then head-butted him. Starks was ejected.
Starks and the Knicks eventually got the last word. New York won the best-of-five series in four games and advanced to face the Charlotte Hornets.
Reggie Miller visits Mike Tyson in prison
Before that 1992-93 playoff series with the Knicks, Reggie Miller and Spike Lee made a wager. On an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, Miller explained the bet. If the Knicks lost, Lee would include Miller’s wife at the time in one of his future movies. If the Pacers lost, Miller would visit Mike Tyson in prison in Indiana.
“We lost and I held up my end of the bargain. I actually went to the prison to visit Mike,” Miller told Kimmel. “I stayed in the waiting room for three hours thinking Mike was going to come out and we’re going to be behind the glass, we’re going to be picking up the phone, ‘Hey champ, what’s going on?’ The brother never came out!”
Miller said he was disappointed he never got to meet Mike Tyson during his visit but it was probably for the better. In the end, Miller proved that not only was he one of the best trash talkers in the NBA, he was a man of his word.