Reggie Miller once scored 8 points in 11 seconds in an NBA playoff game. That was truly one of the most amazing things that I have ever seen happen on a basketball court. That moment may have been the highlight of Miller’s basketball career, until he found out that he will be immortalized later this year in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This is the highest honor that any basketball player could ever imagine receiving.
Being an avid NBA fan, I watched a lot of Reggie Miller over the course of his 18 year career. I always admired his toughness, intensity, tireless work ethic, and his legendary jumpshot. As a member of the Hall of Fame, he will join an exclusive club which currently counts such basketball greats as Michael Jordan, MagicJohnson, and Bill Russell as members. While I am happy for Miller, I do have one question. Is he really a Hall of Famer?
Reggie Miller is without question one of the best shooters in NBA history. Over the course of his career, he made 2,560 three point baskets. This is second only to Ray Allen’s 2,709 (and still counting). He also has career averages of 18.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. These numbers were amassed while being the number one scoring option on a consistent playoff team for the vast majority of his career. We must also remember that he was a shooting guard, which meant that not only did have to carry the scoring load for his team, but he often had to defend the opponent’s best perimeter player. These are all factors that I am sure the voters thought about when choosing him for induction.
For better or worse Reggie Miller was an extremely popular and polarizing player during his days in the NBA. Fans either loved him or hated him. There wasn’t really anything between those two extremes when it came to Miller. Although he wasn’t universally liked, he was definitely universally respected. In the minds of most basketball fans, his selection to the Hall of Fame is a well deserved honor. I however, disagree with the voters’ decision. Reggie Miller was a very good basketball player who great at one thing and had some great moments. However, he is not an all-time great.
I live in Atlanta, where the most overpaid player in the NBA currently plays. In the mind of most NBA fans (me included), Joe Johnson is a good, but not great player. He is the type of player that will never be the best player on a championship team. In my opinion, there is no chance that he will ever be considered for Hall of Fame induction. Granted, he may one day be considered the best player in Atlanta Hawks history, but that really isn’t saying much. Keeping in mind how I feel about Johnson, I decided to compare his career to that of Reggie Miller. As I stated earlier, Miller has career averages of 18.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. By comparison Johnson has averaged 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. The difference in their scoring average is only .4 points per game, while Johnson has been better at distributing to teammates and crashing the boards.
Obviously Johnson is the better all-around player. Reggie Miller was also honored as an all-star 5 times in his 18 year career. Johnson, on the other hand has already made six all-star teams in first 11 NBA seasons. Both players have won the same amount of championships and MVP awards as I have, so they are both even there. Many feel as though Miller is on the long list of great players that would have won a championship had it not been for that guy who wore number 23 in Chicago. I am not sure that I buy that. At no point during the time that Jordan was with the Bulls were the Pacers clearly the second best team in the league with only the Bulls standing in their way.
Reggie Miller is without a doubt one of the best shooters in NBA history. He was also a very good player during his career. Miller had some big moments and definitely earned his reputation as a clutch performer. According to the voters, he is an all time great, deserving of a bust in the Hall of Fame. Fortunately for Miller I’m not a voter. While I was a big fan of his and I have great admiration for his accomplishments on the court, in reality he is no better than Joe Johnson. The numbers don’t lie.