Feel the Rush!
For all the obvious reasons, Reggie Miller's return to Conseco Fieldhouse will be a special occasion for his fans, former teammates and coaches. It marks his first official visit since he retired after a legendary 18 seasons with the Pacers.
For Miller, there's another tasty facet to the event: for once, he'll actually be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Miller and his sister Cheryl will be on the TNT crew for the Pacers' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night (8:00). Though he'll have to work, he won't have to play.
Hence, chow time.
"For so many years we played on Thanksgiving, I've never gotten to eat because the food is too heavy and you can't eat and play. You have to sacrifice," Miller said via teleconference Wednesday. "You love playing on Thanksgiving because you know everyone's at home watching you. The country's watching, which is great. But thing that was terrible was you always had to play the next day, too, so you really didn't get to enjoy any of the food because you couldn't eat. At least I didn't. I'm sure some of my teammates might have, but I never really got a chance to enjoy it.
ler no doubt will be in for some playful ribbing from his former teammates. In his role as analyst in the opening week of the season, he forecast the rival Pistons as the team to beat in the East while raising questions about the Pacers' team chemistry. Though he didn't back down from that statement Wednesday, he did emphasize his conviction the Pacers have the most talent in the conference.
"Indiana has the most talent in the East," he said. "I don't think anyone questions their talent from top to bottom. They're well-coached and they have great players. It's just a matter of those 12 players playing together for 82 games plus the playoffs. That's the only question I have.
"The reason I was picking Detroit is because you know what you're going to get. They are the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions and until someone beats them you've got to go with the champions. Maybe that'll light a fire under Indiana."
Asked if he made that statement to motivate his former team, serving as a team leader from afar, Miller downplayed that motive.
"I can't be a team leader," he said. "I'm teamless."
Clearly, Miller is a guy with an opinion and that, combined with his naturally engaging personality, has made the transition to television relatively seamless. He serves as both a courtside and studio analyst.
In watching, he has gained a new perspective on the game, including his former place.
"Truthfully, I can't believe I played this game for 18 years," he said. "The game is so much quicker, faster (and) guys are bigger, stronger. Sometimes when you remove yourself from the equation you wonder, 'I really played this game?' That's what I take from it. Six, seven, eight months ago, I was on the court with a lot of the same guys."
Around 1 o'clock Thursday afternoon, when Miller is up to his elbows in giblets, he'll be their envy.