Why Reggie Miller is a Hall of Famer

19 02 2011

I shouldn’t have to make an argument for why Reggie Miller is a Hall of Famer. His entrance into the club of 300-plus players, coaches, executives and other basketball contributors should be automatic. What I can do here is cite why Miller should’ve been a candidate as a first-time nominee. Even though I don’t get why Maurice Cheeks and Jamaal Wilkes were deemed more Hall-worthy than Miller, they played before my time. I can’t make a strong case for why they shouldn’t be in the Hall without having seen them play season after season. But I watched Miller for most of his career. Think about the impact he had on the NBA.

Miller holds the ninth-best free throw percentage ever at 88.77 percent. He had made more three-point shots than anyone else in the NBA since the three-point line was instituted for the 1979-80 season until Ray Allen recently passed him. Miller averaged at least 18 points for 12 consecutive seasons, including 20 points or more six times.

Of the seven postseasons in which Miller played 10 or more games, he put up at least 19.9 points per game five times. His 2,972 postseason points ranks 19th all-time; he averaged 20.6 points per game in 144 playoff contests. But there is a more important element to Miller’s Hall candidacy than just stats.

He was undoubtedly one of the best players of his generation, especially in the postseason. He was a leader. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t win an NBA title — he played in the Jordan era. Too many great players had their championship hopes spiked by MJ to hold it against them — Ewing, Stockton, Malone, Miller, Barkley, Gary Payton until he clung onto Miami’s 2005-06 squad.

Miller was the leading scorer on nine playoff teams. He was The Man on a team that made five Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals, and he made another Conference Finals as a role player. (In the three Conference Finals Game 7s in which he played, Miller went 7/17 – 25 points, 5/13 – 12 points, 7/13 – 22 points.)

If you think of the NBA in the ’90s, Miller’s accomplishments invariably come up early in that thought process. You think of 25 fourth quarter points against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in ’94. There were the eight points in 18 seconds against the Knicks at the Garden in ’95. There’s his oft-forgtten game-winning three vs. the Bulls in ’98.

Draw a list of the NBA’s most clutch performers in the ’90s, and Miller is in play for the second spot after Jordan. I’m being truly objective on this final point. Were there ten players in the ’90s who had a greater impact on their team and the league than Miller? Here are the guys I can think of who would be placed ahead of Miller: Jordan, Pippen, Stockton, Malone, Olajuwan, Robinson, Payton, Barkley, Ewing, Shaq…those are ten. And you can make the argument that Miller had more of a positive impact on his team and the league than Ewing or Shaq, at least until Shaq’s career was resuscitated by Phil Jackson in 1999.

Miller was one of the game’s great players for a decade, and for that he should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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