The 2007-08 Boston Celtics might have been more super if Reggie Miller wasn’t so loyal.
The NBA legend revealed the reason why he rejected the opportunity to join the Celtics ahead of that triumphant season in a piece The Atheltic’s Bob Kravitz published Thursday. Miller had been retired for two years when then-Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge sought to lure him back to the NBA with Boston’s budding super-team. However, Miller simply wouldn’t have enjoyed winning with the NBA Finals with the Celtics, having spent 18 seasons trying, and failing, to do so with the Pacers.
“Look I knew they were stacked to win a championship, and they did, but it just wouldn?t have seemed right to be popping champagne in Boston when we (Indiana) grew up together, we laughed together, we cried so many tears together because we were so close for so many years,” Miller told Kravitz. “How could I be sitting and cheering and laughing because I won my championship and all I ever wanted to do was win in Indiana?
Miller argues championship wins matter more to fans in smaller NBA markets, particularly in the basketball-mad Hoosier state.
“People don?t understand — and we’ve seen this when LeBron came back to Cleveland, and now Milwaukee — when small markets win like that, and Indiana is in that category, it’s like winning three or four, it is. We’re not the Lakers, Boston, Chicago. When you win in a small market, those fans live and die with you.
“And Indiana is such a basketball state, winning there was all I wanted to do. I just knew how special it could be, so I could not in good faith put on another jersey when all my joy and sadness came in one jersey, with one franchise.
“I think it’s the military upbringing in me, being loyal, my dad in the Air Force and being a government worker. They (the Pacers) took a chance on me.”
Miller ultimately remains on the list of illustrious NBA players who never won a championship, and it doesn’t sound like he regrets the chance to chase a ring with the Celtics.
To each is own, we suppose.