What's more mind blowing: Reggie Miller scoring eight points in nine seconds to finally beat the Knicks in a dramatic Game 7, or that he made over $100 million dollars in his NBA career and never got his teeth fixed during it?
Routinely snubbed by the Knicks players, most notably John Starks who refused to shake his hand before a playoff game, Miller embraced the "Hicks versus Knicks" dynamic between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks and flamboyantly responded. He was good enough to back it up and enough of an asshole to get mushed in the face by Michael Jordan, one of the only NBA players who could talk more shit than Reggie.
Miller’s mouth and the Knicks brawn first met in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 1993. Miller routinely taunted Starks, asking him “why he thought he was an NBA starter,” and was eventually head-butted by him in Game 3. The Knicks eventually took the series in four games and the rivalry was cemented.
In 1994 the teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals where Miller put on one of his most memorable performances, scoring 39 points in Game 5, 25 coming in the fourth quarter. Spike Lee, who famously taunted opposing players from his courtside seats, was a favorite target of Miller who had plenty to say back to Spike. On this particular night Miller emphatically made a choking sign, which will live in highlight history, silencing Lee, the fans, and causing several Knicks fans to boo Lee. Despite his performance, Indiana lost the series in dramatic fashion in seven games with Miller throwing up an air ball in the last seconds of the game after Patrick Ewing dunked on Antonio Davis.
The 1995 Eastern Conference Finals saw the Knicks and Pacers matched up again and Miller set the tone of the series in Game 1 with a dramatic performance highlighted by a historic finish. Miller mentally exhausted Starks by trash talking him all game but the Pacers were still trailing 105-99 with 18.7 seconds left in the game. Miller drained two quick three pointers from an inbound and then a stolen inbound pass. Starks was then fouled on the Knicks next possession and bricked both free throws. His teammates blamed the missed shots on Starks being rattled by Miller’s shit talking. Miller picked up a foul on Ewing’s offensive rebound on the second missed free throw and hit both foul shots scoring eight points in less than nine seconds and securing the win.
In Game 7 of the 1995 conference semi-finals with Jerry Seinfeld, Donald Trump, and Spike Lee again in attendance Miller played both a perfect physical and psychological game. He was jawing at Starks and the Knicks on every possession. Miller led his team with 29 points. With seconds left in the game, Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing's lay up inexplicably bounced out of the hoop failing to tie the game. Everyone in Madison Square Garden knew not only that an era ended for the Knicks but that Ewing would be remembered for his failure not his illustrious career.
Miller’s acting skills had been honed with his legendary flopping and taunting and his celebration was as dramatic as ever as he fell at half court into a Jesus Christ pose before leaping up to celebrate in the mecca of basketball in front of a shocked crowd.