A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
For Reggie, There Is No Bad Decision
By Bob Kravitz
Updated: August 25, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS — The phone rang around 11:25 p.m. I was awaiting my nightly Angela Buchman weather fix.
“Bob,” a voice said slowly. Great. A stalker. A lunatic. A creditor.
“Reginald Wayne Miller here,” the man said. Reginald Wayne Miller? The first thing I thought was, guy with three names. At 11:25 p.m. That’s never a good thing.
John Wilkes Booth. John Wayne Gacy. Wily Mo Pena.
(OK, the third one is a bad example. I just like writing his name).
Then it dawned on me: Uncle Reggie. All week, I had been sending him e-mails on his Blackberry: When will you decide? Will you please decide already? For the love of God, make a decision, man.
Just make it early in the evening, so I have time to write on deadline. And catch my Super Vipir 4000 Angela Weather. It’s all about me, you know.
“I’m not going to do it,” Reginald Wayne Miller said. Not going to make a comeback?
“I could have done it,” he said. “Physically, I could have handled it. I started 10-12 days ago, shocking my body with two-a-days, and while I was really sore after the first couple of days, I know I would have felt sore even if I was still 32.
“And I think mentally, those first couple of months, I would have been excited. And even the dog days of the season, just thinking about the playoffs coming up, that would have gotten me excited to play.”
So, why aren’t you playing?
“Um, I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve been wrestling with this all day. I’m sure I’ll keep wrestling with it. I know I could have done it. And it would have been fun to play with KG (Kevin Garnett). It was hard telling him I wasn’t going to do it. I don’t know if Boston can win a championship, but I think they’re going to be one of the best teams in the East, and they’ll definitely have a chance to go a long way.”
So, let me rephrase the question: Why aren’t you playing?
Miller never really had a great answer. He’d tell me that he wasn’t coming back, then come up with five good reasons why he should come back.
Truth is, I think he’s still looking for a good reason to stay away.
Sometimes, though, you know the answer without understanding why.
This was one of those decisions, though, where there’s no wrong answer. It’s like winning the lottery: Do you take the lump sum or the annuities?
If Reggie stayed retired, he had TNT and the movie business. If he played, he had a team with Eastern Conference title chances, an outside shot at a ring, and both TNT and the movie biz waiting on him.
Not exactly “Sophie’s Choice” here.
Still, he said, “This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.”
Personally, I wanted to see him come back. His legacy is secure in my eyes, and it should be in the eyes of all Indiana Pacers fans. Sure, when he retired, he said he wouldn’t be one of those geezers who came back to chase a ring with another franchise, so on the criminal account of hypocrisy, he would have been guilty as charged.
But, hey, a guy can change his mind, right?
You think the people of Utah look at John Stockton, who stayed with the Jazz until the end, differently than they do Karl Malone, who went ring-fishing with the Lakers?
Please. Whose life is it, anyway?
It’s not like the Simons were going to make him give back the Bentley he received as a retirement give. I don’t think.
On some level, sure, this whole bizarre episode was embarrassing for the Pacers, who have had their fill of embarrassments the past few years. Donnie Walsh wondered publicly why Miller would consider a comeback with anybody other than the Pacers.
Mel Daniels jokingly said he’d go out to Malibu and wring Reggie’s little neck if he returned to the NBA in a Celtics uniform. But this was not meant as any kind of Miller-esque repudiation of what his old franchise is trying to do — whatever that might be.
It simply acknowledged the fact that while the Pacers are coming off a playoff-less season, the Celtics dramatically bolstered their lineup and might be in line for an Eastern Conference title run with Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
The whole concept of a Reggie return was just crazy enough, it might have worked. Now we’ll never know.
“One thing I want people to know is, I wasn’t thinking about coming back because I was bored,” he said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, Reggie, he misses the camaraderie and the teammates and all those things.’ No. I’ve got a life beyond basketball. I’m very happy beyond basketball.
“Ultimately, I can’t worry about making other people happy. Some wanted me back. Some wanted me to stay retired. The question is what makes me happy.”
If Reggie’s happy, I’m happy.
Now back to you, Angela.