Reggie Miller Is Still Haunted by a Specific Game He Played in 21 Years Ago: ‘It Bugs and Irks Me’
Reggie Miller has been retired for 16 years. He last played in 2004-05 with the Indiana Pacers and averaged just 14.8 points that season. The sharpshooter, though, is still haunted by a game that took place years before that.
In fact, Miller recently admitted he is still bothered by a game from the 2000 NBA Finals where he and the Pacers took on Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Reggie Miller and the Pacers reached the 2000 NBA Finals
After years of losing in the first round and falling in the Eastern Conference finals, Miller and the Pacers finally made the NBA Finals in his 13th season in 1999-2000.
The Pacers went 56-26 during the regular season that year and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 3-2 in the first round before defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 4-2 in the conference semifinals. They then took on Latrell Sprewell, Patrick Ewing, and the New York Knicks in the conference finals and ultimately won 4-2 to reach their first finals as a franchise since making the switch from the ABA to the NBA.
Miller had a solid season in 1999-2000, averaging 18.1 points and earning an All-Star selection, but he dominated in the playoffs, scoring 24.0 points per game. One game in the NBA Finals, though, still haunts him.
He is haunted by Game 1 of the 2000 NBA Finals
The Pacers met the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals. LA hadn’t won a championship since 1988, but had two of the NBA’s best players in Shaq and Kobe.
O’Neal ultimately had a dominant performance in Game 1, scoring 43 points, pulling down 19 rebounds, and leading the Lakers to a 104-87 win.
However, that game still haunts Miller, who only scored seven points on 1-of-16 shooting.
“Every possession (in the NBA Finals), you hear this all the time, it takes a life of its own,” Miller said on the July 19 episode of The Dan Patrick Show. “I had a horrendous, horrible Game 1. To me, to this day, it bugs and irks me that my Game 1 performance, to me, affected our team the rest of the series, I thought. … That set the tone because I have always been the guy. If I would’ve played well and we had lost, that still would have gave the rest of the guys hope. It’s all mental. I played great the rest of the series, but, to me, that Game 1 just haunts me.”
Miller said that beating the Knicks, the Pacers’ rival, in the conference finals made him relax a bit.
“I exhaled for a moment, and it cost me in Game 1,” he said. “Again, I played fine the rest of the series … that Game 1, I just wish I could have back.”
Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers to a 4-2 win over Reggie Miller and the Pacers
After dominating Game 1, Shaq, Kobe, and the Lakers won 111-104 in Game 2; O’Neal had 40 points and 24 rebounds. The Pacers then won two of three in Games 3–5, but the Lakers won 116-111 in Game 6 to clinch the series, 4-2.
Miller still played well overall, averaging 24.3 points, but the Pacers couldn’t stop O’Neal. The Hall of Fame big man averaged 38.0 points and 16.7 rebounds.
The series also resulted in two totally different outcomes for both franchises.
LA won the next two titles, winning three straight total, and the team made four trips to the finals in five seasons. The Pacers, on the other hand, lost in the first round the next three seasons and haven’t been to the finals since.
Miller had a great career with the Pacers, earning five All-Star selections and eventually making the Hall of Fame, but had he played well in Game 1 of the 2000 NBA Finals, it’s hard telling how different his career may have turned out.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference