Sunday, April 14, 2024


For 3 many years we’ve coated many wonderful basketball characters, however some stand above the remainder—not solely due to their on-court abilities (although these are at all times related), however due to how they influenced and proceed to affect basketball tradition, and thus influenced SLAM. In the meantime, SLAM has additionally modified these gamers’ lives in numerous methods, as we’ve documented their careers with traditional covers, legendary images, wonderful tales, compelling movies and extra. 

We compiled a bunch of people (programming observe: 30 entries, not 30 individuals whole) who imply one thing particular to SLAM and to our viewers. Learn the full listing right here and order your copy of SLAM 248, the place this listing was initially printed, right here.

Nicely, that is awkward. I used to be requested to put in writing about Reggie Miller’s evolving relationship with SLAM, I’m assuming, as a result of it began very poorly—and particularly due to me. And I simply now realized that the 2024 NBA All-Star Sport shall be in Indianapolis. On condition that reality, and the intervening years, I had a thought: let Reggie (the greatest-ever Pacers participant) delight in his Corridor of Fame-ness and benefit from the festivities with none childishness or negativity.

All these years later, it not hurts to offer Reggie his flowers for his exemplary profession, and we are able to now settle for the truth that he’s universally thought-about one of many biggest long-range shooters in NBA historical past. Over 25,000 factors (together with 2,560 three-pointers) in 18 seasons, two Gold medals. One of many greats.

It’s known as rising up, individuals.

SLAM, throughout what I wish to name “The Profanity Period” (points 3-38), is linked to Miller greater than every other participant not named Iverson. However the best way we handled them couldn’t be in starker distinction. Iverson might do no improper in our eyes, whereas the journal relentlessly focused Miller. Why? As a result of we would have liked a foil. If we have been trying to combine issues up within the sports activities media world (lol), antagonizing a perennial All-Star was essentially the most environment friendly means to take action. 

And Reggie was the most effective participant on the Pacers and the Pacers routinely clobbered the Knicks, whereas Miller preened, pouted and flopped. He was just like the annoying progeny of Mick Jagger and knowledgeable wrestler, having fun with himself so totally whereas riling the group. It was infuriating to us. 

And so we (OK, me) pounced on him and started a marketing campaign of poking Miller with a stick. We (OK, I) stated all types of issues about him to try to get an increase from him. He by no means responded to me immediately however, trying again, his annual teabagging of the Knicks within the playoffs was in all probability sufficient of a solution.

Throughout his profession, Reggie Miller made an enemy of each NBA fan in each metropolis aside from his personal. He wore that hatred like Superman’s cape. It intrigued him, amused him, after which it fueled him. The hostility, nonetheless, was far, far worse in Madison Sq. Backyard than in every other enviornment. When Miller performed the Knicks, he was additional conceited and spiteful and scornful and miserably clutch. The 25-point fourth quarter. The 8 factors in 9 seconds. The choke signal.

These hijinks went on for years—means longer than our “Glen Rice’s spouse” marketing campaign or no matter different idiocy we cooked up—and culminated with SLAM publishing Miller’s highschool promenade photograph—which he attended along with his sister Cheryl, who was an unreal basketball participant in her personal proper. That I thought-about it to be a “gotcha” second reveals that we have been fully dropping the plot.

Many points after we’d begun our campaign, we have been exhausted, frankly, and pumped the brakes. Not lengthy after, Miller appeared on the quilt of SLAM 33, sneering in victory. On the journal’s backbone we put the about-face into context, printing, “Hell Freezes Over.”

As soon as we crossed that rubicon, it was a lot simpler to just accept/swallow the truth that Miller was a clutch big-game participant and, thanks largely to his relationship with SLAM, the best and most prepared villain in basketball historical past. It additionally grew to become considerably easier to incorporate his title in a dialog with out relentlessly denigrating him and should have been liberating to the following editorial staffs. Fortunately, grudges don’t switch nicely.

A number of years in the past, lengthy after Reggie retired and started incomes huge bucks as a really succesful coloration commentator, SLAM requested me to interview him—a primary, because it turned out—in an try to settle our variations. We have been each up for it.

Over the course of an hour, Reggie and I talked about his storied profession, his relationship to SLAM and to opposing followers, and the way gamers immediately would have a a lot tougher time dealing with our degree of vitriol. I apologized for publishing the promenade photograph—a stunt that he precisely described as “loopy”—after which we talked extensively about how SLAM’s unrelenting public hatred of his persona had really helped him. 

Because it turned out, Reggie was likable, and we each blamed my doubtful habits on my misspent youth and a whole lack of journalistic coaching or, actually, morals. As Russ Bengtson would say, “cool, cool.” 

He additionally credited me for burying my very own hatchet and providing him the quilt, which is nice aside from one factor: six months after the Reggie Miller cowl was printed, I ran away from SLAM, by no means to return. 

Picture by Clay Patrick Mcbride. Featured picture through Getty Pictures.

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