This Decision Is Miller’s Alone To Make

By Bob Kravitz
Updated: August 13, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS — It could be worse. Reggie Miller could be considering a comeback with the Detroit Pistons. Or worse yet, the New York Knicks, maybe shacking up with Spike Lee.

Here’s the question that keeps popping back up every time I contemplate the idea of Miller chasing a ring in a Boston Celtics uniform: Why not?
It seems to me Miller has earned the right to script the conclusion of his own movie. Even if the thought of Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn screaming “Boom, baby!” makes me a little sick to my stomach.

If he wants to finish his career in somebody else’s uniform, that’s his prerogative.

And nobody, least of all Pacers fans who luxuriated in his presence all those wonderful years, should begrudge him a last-ditch effort at an NBA title.
He doesn’t even have to give the Bentley back, as long as it’s understood that I get to drive it every other Friday.

OK, Saturday. We’ll talk.

The whole notion that he would taint his legacy is ludicrous beyond words. Reggie is Mr. Pacer, period. Reggie can go to Venezuela, Tierra del Fuego and Sri Lanka, and he’ll be the Pacers’ Reggie Miller. When Johnny Unitas finished his career in San Diego, did anybody relate him to any uniform besides that of the Baltimore Colts?

When Michael Jordan came back for the second — or maybe third time — I kept hearing, “I want to remember him pushing off and hitting that step-back jumper on Bryon Russell in the NBA Finals.”
Well, that’s still what I remember. Despite the comebacks, the days with the Washington Wizards and all the rest, that’s how I continue to think about Jordan.

If Miller goes to the Celtics, he’ll still be remembered forever for his playoff heroics, for all those clutch moments that made him such a legend.

Some Boston-area radio show hosts called me this week to talk about Uncle Reggie, and here’s what I told them:
Can he still play?

Let me answer the question with a question: How many current NBA players can consistently make a long-range jumper?

A handful, maybe.

If the Celtics limit Miller’s minutes to 15 per night and make sure he saves those legs, he will make opponents pay for double-teaming Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

It has been noted that he only shot 32 percent from 3-point land in his final year with the Pacers. What wasn’t noted was, he played roughly 32 minutes a night that season, a huge number for a 38-year-old shooting guard.

Could he handle going from a superstar to a role player?

You could tell the Boston-area guys asking the question know absolutely nothing about Miller. What I told them was, this guy was almost too deferential to the young players when it came time for the Pacers to rebuild about the 2000 season.

He nurtured Jermaine O’Neal. He fed Ron Artest. He was passing the ball and passing the torch. If anything, you wished he would have been a little bit more selfish.

Miller would accept a limited role happily, and would be a great influence on and off the court.

If he’s chasing a ring, is Boston really the place to go?
It’s as good a place as any. Remember, this is the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers got to the NBA Finals last year with one superstar and a bunch of slugs.

The Celtics have three future Hall of Famers, and if Miller joins them, a fourth one coming off the bench. (Plus there’s the Scot Pollard factor.)
Are the people in Indy angry or hurt that Reggie didn’t make himself available to the Pacers?

It was interesting to read team CEO Donnie Walsh’s quote to The Star’s Mark Montieth: “I would think if he was going to come back, he would call us and let us know. He hasn’t talked to anyone here.”
Why be surprised?

I’m not going to keep piling onto a team that’s headed straight for lottery land, but if you’re Miller and you’re hoping for some chance at winning a title, are you really going to offer your services to the Indiana Pacers?
It’s one thing to be loyal. It’s another to be stupid.

Miller knows the Pacers are spinning their wheels. The fact he hasn’t contacted them about coming back is an abject repudiation of what they’re attempting to do — whatever that is. Listen, Reggie owes the Pacers nothing. If the people of Indiana want to be angry at someone, be angry at the Pacers.

As for whether Miller will come back, all I can offer is a solid “I don’t know.” My gut says no, but, then, my gut said Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy’s book wouldn’t make The New York Times bestseller list.

Miller had a chance last season to join the Dallas Mavericks and turned that down pretty flatly. This time around, his prepared statement appears far more open-ended. It wasn’t “yes,” but it wasn’t “no,” either. Kind of a well-crafted “maybe.”
I wish him the best, either way he goes.

If Reggie in Celtics green bothers Pacers fans, well, that’s their problem.