Friday, September 7, 2012
Miller enters Hall with Spike Lee motivation
By Jared Zwerling
On Friday night, Reggie Miller, who became a Knicks villain inside Madison Square Garden, will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. And when that happens, it won't be surprising to see Spike Lee's name on Miller's player plaque in Springfield.
That's because Lee provided plenty of motivation for "Miller Time" because he talked a lot of smack to the Pacers shooting guard from his courtside seat -- sometimes even standing up to make his words heard. Lee was so vocal with Miller (they weren't friends by any means) that in May of 1994, right before the Eastern Conference finals between the Knicks and Pacers, he placed a phone call to the occasional "Knick Killer" to present him with a friendly wager.
Lee said that if the Knicks won the series, Miller would have to visit Mike Tyson in jail at the Indiana Youth Center (now the Plainfield Correctional Facility), where he was serving time on a rape charge. But if the Knicks lost, Lee would cast Miller's wife at the time, Marita Stavrou, in one of his upcoming films.
Miller shared his side of the story in an NBA TV special called "Looking Back at Reggie," which airs tonight (at 5:30 p.m. ET) before the enshrinement ceremony. Miller also reflected on the time he scored 25 points in the fourth quarter (39 total) in Game 5 to put the Pacers up 3-2 in the series. It was the night when Miller did his infamous choking move (directed at Lee) to signal the Knicks would lose the game. But the blue and orange came back to win the next two contests en route to the Finals against the Rockets.
During their legendary rivalry from 1993 to 2000, the Knicks and Pacers each won three playoff series. The Knicks first beat the Pacers in 1993 in the first round, and then the following year in the conference finals. Then in 1999, the Knicks upset the Pacers as the eighth seed to reach the Finals -- their last appearance in franchise history. The Pacers' victorious years were 1995, '98 and 2000.