While he might not be the most popular man in New York City, most NBA fans will remember Reggie Miller as a talented player with a knack for hitting big shots. The guard, however, has one glaring hole in his professional resume: the lack of an NBA championship. Based on that reality, he’s rather well qualified to speak about super teams and “ring chasing” from a player’s perspective. On August 3, he did just that.
After tweeting out that he was excited to watch the 2021-22 edition of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pacer-turned-TV analysis received a response complaining about modern players changing teams in pursuit of a championship. Miller, however, was able to draw upon personal experience and pen the perfect response.
Reggie Miller was a talented player who failed to win a championship
In the modern NBA, three-point shooting rules the day. Long before guys were burying jumpers from the logo, though, Reggie Miller had made a name for himself as a deadly marksman.
The guard cut his teeth at UCLA and, despite the program’s rich history, managed to write his name all over the record books. He then joined the Indiana Pacers as the 11th pick of the 1987 NBA draft. While fans weren’t too pleased with the selection, Miller would become an indelible piece of the franchise’s history.
In total, Reggie spent 18 seasons with the Pacers, averaging 18.2 points per outing across his entire career. Although that number might not seem too impressive in isolation, it doesn’t paint the full picture of Miller. In addition to being a knock-down shooter, the guard proved to be unphased by even the biggest moments. If Indiana needed someone to step up in a big moment, it would be Miller.
For all of that success, though, he never lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Miller had the misfortune of facing some elite teams in his time, including Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. He only reached the NBA Finals once in 18 seasons, falling to Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the LA Lakers.
Reggie Miller isn’t too worried about players ‘ring chasing’
Miller, for better or worse, played his entire career with one franchise and never won a championship. These days, though, that kind of loyalty is rare. While we can debate the reasons why that’s changed, an increasing number of players are more willing to hit free agency and join forces with other stars on super teams. That, of course, gives that squad a better chance to win the championship.
While that practice rubs some fans the wrong way — they tend to feel that it’s a cheap way to win the title — Miller doesn’t seem too bothered by it.
After tweeting that he was excited to watch a Lakers squad consisting of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony, Miller received a response from a user who thought the new-look LA roster was “lame” and made up of players who were “ring chasing.”
“Perhaps, but you’re and many others are the same people who kill guys for being loyal and ringless, can’t have it both ways,” Miller wrote in response. “Go get dat jewelry..”
While it might not be ideal to paint such a large swath of basketball fans with the same brush, Miller does have a point. If players are judged on postseason success, it’s only natural they’ll want to join championship-caliber teams instead of waiting around for their current franchise to rebuild. Similarly, if loyalty is what theoretically matters, that should be taken more seriously as a part of a player’s overall resume.
Charles Barkley also illustrates his TNT coworker’s point
While Miller didn’t directly bring Charles Barkley into the conversation, his fellow TNT analyst would probably have been happy to end his support.
Similar to Reggie, Sir Charles never managed to win an NBA title. For all of his success — Barkley is arguably one of the best forwards ever, especially when you consider his relative lack of height — Chuck is remembered as the guy who couldn’t win a championship. If you only watched Inside the NBA with no prior knowledge of basketball history, you’d think the Round Mound of Rebound was a perennial loser and nothing else.
Although there’s probably an element of showbiz at play — Shaq ribbing Barkley makes for entertaining TV — we do know that Barkley wishes things had worked out differently. The forward is confident in his overall body of work but said he would have joined a super team if had he known how much he’d be teased.
At the end of the day, every sports fan is entitled t assess players however they see fit, whether that means ranking them by championships, loyalty, or anything in between. As Reggie Miller noted, though, the important thing is consistency. If you try to have it both ways, virtually every player in the league will fail to make the cut based on some metric.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference