CLASSY MOMENT DURING MILLER'S FINAL ROUND
It is always tough to say good bye to a legend.
When one of the great ones steps away it is a reminder of our own mortality, that the games we play outside the professional stage won't last forever. It is a reminder I won't do radio or television forever. The writing in The News will some day come to an end as will this blog that is so enjoyable to write.
I thought Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan would still be playing today, showing us the same moves they did in their prime. But of course that is not possible.
Father time marches on. And he carries us along with him.
Another left us Thursday night.
Indiana Pacers all-time leading scorer Reggie Miller got pushed toward retirement by the scrappy Pistons 88-79, ending this Eastern Conference semifinal in six games and giving us the much anticipated Pistons-Miami Heat match up.
But I am not thinking Heat right now. Miller deserves his own send off and Pistons Coach Larry Brown deserves his own very special moment also.
When Miller said so long it made the rest of us a little older, a little grayer and perhaps a half step slower. He seemed to be around the game forever. But father time catches up with all of us. It finally got Miller after 18 seasons (I think) and he has decided he can no longer go on.
He finished his career with 25,297 points, 2,560 three-point shots and enough dramatic moments to fill a stage.
He challenged New York and won. He challenged Michael Jordan and lost most of the time, but still came away with a few impressive victories. Miller time was always dangerous time because he flicked that three-point shot like a serpent sticking his tongue out.
It was a quick and deadly shot that sank a lot of dreams.
The bad thing for Miller is he never won a title. The Bulls or Knicks or Bad Boys all stood in the way. And it was the Pistons who stopped him on his final journey.
The Pistons played a classic road game. They withstood the Pacers emotions. They fought off a cheering crowd at Conseco Field house that did not want to let go of Miller. And they finally clawed out a big win with little plays at the end that all added up.
They won by hitting big shots and making big stops. They won by digging for loose balls and turning possessions into power plays.
They needed a classic win to finish off a classic player.
"He went out with guns a blazing, " Brown said of Miller.
And Brown made one of the classiest moves in sports. When the end was near and Pacers Coach Rick Carlisle took Miller out of the game for his final curtain call, Brown prolonged it by calling time out.
He did not stop there. He gathered his team at half court to join in the love fest.
It was a touching moment. And it came from a league that has given us guys missing shots to create false triple doubles. It is a league where players talk about themselves in the third person and sometimes treat fans as if they are pond scum.
Brown understood what this moment meant to Indianapolis and the NBA. He put the cherry in a great send off.
And he put the class back in the NBA.