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Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!Posted Monday, April 2, 2012, at 6:52 PM
It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since the Indiana Pacers drafted the player who became the face of the franchise.
In 1987, the Pacers were coming off a 41-41 season. They had made the playoffs the year before, but lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
Jack Ramsay was the coach of the team and Donnie Walsh was the team's general manager.
The Pacers faced a very tough decision that year with the upcoming draft.
Who would they pick?
It was clear, at least to Pacers' fans. The squad had to draft Indiana University standout and New Castle native Steve Alford, who had just guided the Hoosiers to a national title.
But when it came to the 1987 NBA draft, the Pacers had other plans.
When it came to the 11th pick, Indiana drafted UCLA guard Reggie Miller, a lanky 6-foot-7 shooter.
Fans were very upset. When Miller's name was called, fans booed.
But 25 years later, Miller is still the face of the franchise, a team he hasn't played for since 2005.
Miller was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Monday afternoon. He will join NBA long-time coach Don Nelson, as well as former NBA great Ralph Sampson, and a host of others at the induction ceremony in September.
But in 1987, Pacers' fans didn't want to have anything to do with Miller.
They didn't care. They were angry the team didn't draft the homegrown Alford.
After all, Alford had won Indiana's coveted Mr. Basketball, played on the 1984 Olympic Team, and won the 1987 NCAA National Title.
How dare the Pacers draft someone else?
Alford played only four seasons in the NBA, with the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors.
In his four seasons, he started just three games. He scored 744 points, dished out 176 assists and hit 87 percent of his free throws.
In contrast, Miller played 18 seasons with the Pacers. He scored 25,279 points (14th all-time), dished out 4,141 assists and started 1,304 games. He also hit 89 percent of his free throws.
Oh, by the way ...
Miller ranks second all-time in the NBA in three-pointers made with 2,560 (only Ray Allen has hit more). He's also ninth all-time in free throw shooting percentage, 12th in free throws made, and he ranks sixth all-time in games played.
Miller's game total also ranks him behind only John Stockton and Karl Malone for most games played with the same team in league history.
Miller also led the Pacers to the playoffs 15 times, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2000, only to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
He was also selected to five NBA All-Star games and started the game in 1995.
In his final season, Miller averaged 14.8 points per game. He was 39.
Kudos to Miller for being named to the Hall of Fame Monday. He deserved it.
By receiving the honor, Miller joins Chris Mullin, Mel Daniels and Alex English as former Pacer players in the Hall of Fame.
Former team coaches Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, Jack Ramsay and Larry Bird are also in the Hall of Fame. It should be noted Bird and Thomas made the Hall of Fame as players.
All things considered, I think Walsh made the right choice back in 1987.
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