Has anyone ever been more wrong about anything than I was about Reggie Miller two days ago?
He's washed up, said I. The Pacers should bring him off the bench so he can try to heat up for short spurts, because that's all he has left. His legs are gone. His jumpshot's gone. Et, as the saying goes, cetera.
Miller scored 27 points Thursday night on 11-of-16 shooting, 4-for-8 from beyond the 3-point line as the Pacers were eliminated by the Pistons, losing Game 6 88-79.
It was a magnificent performance, inspired, emotional, dramatic. With the home crowd showering him with cheers, Miller reached down, as great champions do, and found the energy he needed for that last great performance, the one it didn't look like he was going to deliver again.
It wasn't enough to save the overmatched Pacers' season, but that only added poignancy. So did the fact that it came against Rip Hamilton, the Pistons guard Miller considers the heir to his skills and playing style, 3-pointers excepted. And so did Hamilton's performance, almost identical to Miller's aside from the 3-pointers: 28 points on 10-of-16.
Hamilton even scored a Miller-like 10 points in the decisive fourth quarter, including the dagger, a catch-and-shoot jumper coming off a screen with 53 seconds left that put Detroit ahead by five. The Pacers had been within three because of Miller's last NBA basket, an exclamation-inducing three from straight out.
With the game in the bag for the Pistons, up by eight with 15 seconds left and Hamilton shooting free throws, Pistons coach Larry Brown -- until Thursday the NBA figure I had been most wrong about -- called timeout just so Miller, who had just been taken out of the game, could soak up cheers for a couple of minutes. Even Brown and the Pistons players walked over and applauded.
It wasn't quite "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," but it was something. I still can't stand Reggie Miller and his whiny, flopping routine, and I'm not sorry I'll never see him play again, but it really was something.
You might think I spent Thursday night rooting against Miller, hoping the shots would stop falling so I wouldn't be embarrassed by the colossal wrongness of my column the other day. Nah.
He made three shots early, including a layup off a backdoor cut and a nice little runner in the lane, and I did think for a few minutes that he was just proving my point, that he could still play only in spurts. But when he came back in after a rest in the second quarter and nailed a three, I figured I was licked, and when he buried two more late in the half, I knew it.
Even I could enjoy this. Miller had 17 points at the half on 7-for-9 shooting. I'm fortunate in being incapable of embarrassment, and a magnificent sporting moment is bigger than my little column or my juvenile dislike of any given future Hall of Famer. Besides, it's good for the soul to have your hat handed to you every once in a while.
One of the many joys of being a sports fan is picking some guy as an enemy and rooting against him as though he'd shot your dog, for good reason or no reason at all. For more than 20 years, Reggie Miller was such a guy for me.
When I moved from San Francisco to St. Louis, I chose the Memphis Grizzlies over the Pacers as the new entry in the Complicated Calculus of Teams I Root For even though Indianapolis is a little closer than Memphis is. That was partly with an eye toward barbecue prospects on future road trips, but it was largely because of Reggie Miller.
My hat, the one that just got handed to me, is off to him. So long and good luck, Reggie. It's been fun hating your guts.
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Steroid language: Let's be precise [PERMALINK]
We've been talking about steroids a lot around here lately, and with the state of things and Congress in full grandstanding mode I'm sure we'll talk about them a lot more. So let's clear up some confusion that's caused by sloppy use of the language by the media, including your humble typist.
I'm turning over the floor to Dr. Patrick Cunningham, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, who calls himself "a curmudgeonly medical doctor [who wants] to set the record straight":
"I thought you might be receptive to learning about a (picky?) factual error that I have seen in yours and many other sports columns regarding steroids.
"It is only anabolic steroids that grow muscle. It is quite rare that doctors ever prescribe anabolic steroids. The type of 'steroids' that many of us have been prescribed from doctors have a similar chemical structure, thus are sloppily called steroids, but are not anabolic steroids in any way.
"A more specific term for this group is 'glucocorticoids.' They reduce inflammation, but long-term use actually leads to muscle atrophy, and obesity. Birth-control pills are also technically steroids, by the way.
"So if your doctor gave you anabolic steroids for a sore throat, he should have his license revoked. (Ditto if he gave you birth control pills.)"
Thanks for the clarification, Doc, though I have to defend my own sawbones for prescribing those birth-control pills. I mean, so far so good.
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