Reggie Miller became a (in)famous basketball player during the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks, due to his phenomenal shooting performance in Game 5 of the series on June 1, 1994,
in which he scored 25 points in the 4th quarter of the Pacers’ victory at Madison Square Garden.
Reggie Miller single-handedly crushed the hearts of Knick fans multiple times.
But Dan Klores‘ Winning Time (from ESPN‘s 30 for 30) focus on that summer night of ‘94.
Click on Reggie to see how he proudly built his legend as “The Garden’s Greatest Villain”.
When it came to verbal warfare, Reggie Miller was in a league of his own.
The Pacer was also a master of nonverbal communication.
In the 1995 playoffs, he looked at Spike Lee, sitting in the front row with his wife, and simultaneously grabbed his throat (to indicate a Knicks choke) and the spot about three feet lower.
“I was shocked,” recalled Spike Lee, as if he hadn’t been taunting Miller throughout the game.
“The New York papers all blamed Spike for inspiring me,” Reggie recalls.
“If the Knicks had won the game, they’d have called him a hero for intimidating me.“
Miller now looks back on those memorable Pacers-Knicks games with a touch of bemusement. “Hey, I was only doing my job—70% of everything I said on the court was just to get myself motivated.”
What was the other 30%? “To see if I could get inside my opponent’s head.”
He certainly got in the head of the Knicks‘ John Starks, who once became so frustrated by Reggie‘s verbiage that he head-butted him; Miller responded by falling backward, arms flailing in an exaggerated swoon.
“It was pure theater,” says Director Klores, who captures all of Reggie Miller‘s outrageous antics in slow motion, to the accompaniment of Puccini arias and the “Habanera” from “Carmen.”
Theater or not, Miller insists “it got so bad that when I was in New York I was afraid to go out of my hotel room. Mark Jackson [the former Knick acquired by the Pacers in 1994] was my eyes and ears. I didn’t even open my door for room service.“
“I want to be clear about this. It wasn’t hatred. We had a lot of respect for the Knicks, and I know they had the same for us. When Patrick Ewing missed that lay-up shot [which would have sent the seventh game of the 1995 Eastern Conference finals into overtime], I felt his pain. I mean, as another player. I wonder if he felt sorry for me the previous year [when the Knicks beat the Pacers].“
And has he come to terms with Spike Lee? “Uh, yeah. We’re friends now, sort of.“