Actually....in the span of just a few hours.....two men, who will be inducted in the Basketball Hall Of Fame, retired. Combined, Karl Malone and Reggie Miller went to the NBA Finals 4 times.....losing all 4 times....and scored over 60,000 points. Malone went to the All Star game 14 times. Miller was a 5-time All Star.
Back in 1987, Miller was selected with the #11 pick by the Indiana Pacers [right after Ho Grant and right before Muggsy Bogues]. Miller was actually booed by Indiana fans who wanted Steve Alford, from Indiana University’s NCAA Championship team, instead. Well, Miller is retiring from the NBA while Alford’s been the head coach at Iowa for a while now. Two years earlier, Malone was selected #13 by the Utah Jazz [right before Kenny Green and after Al Hughes]. They leave those franchises as their all-time leading scorers.
Funny that when you think of Karl Malone and Reggie Miller....you really don’t think of them together. Karl Malone is built like a tank who has one of the most cut bodies in NBA history. Reggie Miller is built like Gollum from the Lord Of The Rings....and had a hip deformity as a child. Malone is one of the best frontcourt players of all time....and very well might be the NBA’s best power forward. Miller is one of the top backcourt players of all time....and might well be the NBA’s best shooter.
Miller will be regarded as one of the biggest clutch shooters of all time. In consecutive games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals....Miller was the man down the stretch. In game 3, he scored 13 pts in the final 4 minutes. In game 4....he hit the game winner with less than a second remaining. Remember back in 2002 when Miller hit a 39-ft shot to send game 5 against the Nets into overtime??? Maybe, just maybe, you remember Miller scoring 8 points in the final 9 seconds of a 1995 playoff game against the Knicks in the Garden? Or the year before when he dumped 25 fourth-quarter points on the Knicks in the playoffs?
Karl Malone may be most remembered for missing free throws in the 1997 NBA Finals...getting stripped by Michael Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals....and as a spectator for the 2004 NBA Finals.
Miller was one of the NBA?s top FT shooters.....88.6%. No one in NBA history has made more free throws than Malone, who started his career Shaq-like from the line yet improved to a 74% FT shooter. Malone will be linked to John Stockton until the day he dies. Miller, though you can link him to numerous players, never really had that one teammate that seems to be his "buddy". Heck, even Shaq and Kobe will have each other.
Here is the list of Malone?s NBA coaches: Frank Layden, Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson. Here is the list of Reggie?s head coaches in the NBA: Dr. Jack Ramsey, Mel Daniels, George Irvine, Dick Versace, Bob Hill, Larry Brown, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas and Rick Carlisle.
Karl Malone?s Utah era is most likely though of with Jerry Sloan and John Stockton. Toss in a Jeff Hornacek, Jeff Malone, Mark Eaton or Greg Ostertag. But, essentially, it is Malone-Sloan-Stockton. Reggie Miller?s reign in Indiana actually has seen three separate Pacers eras. The first one with Chuck Person, Vern Flemming and Detlef Schrempf who were in those epic battles with Larry Bird?s Celtics. The second one was the NBA Finals edition with Mark Jackson, Jalen Rose and Rik Smits. And, finally, their current era with Jermaine O?Neal and Ron Artest.
Their retirements even were announced differently. Karl Malone hasn?t been in a uniform since last spring....while Miller is in the middle of the season. After usinga player option on a second year with the Lakers....Malone has just been hovering around looking for a place to land. Some thought he may go with Shaq to Miami. Some thought he?d go the San Antonio to play with the championship front running Spurs. Some thought he may re-up with the Lakers [though a tift with Kobe Bryant?s wifey sent that down the tubes]. Actually, rumors that Malone would retire have been circulating since last year?s NBA Finals....and especially over the past month. Finally, he is figuratively stepping off the court for the final time.
Reggie Miller?s decision wasn?t really out of the blue. I mean, there was speculation that he was going to make this his final season....but it took a TNT report from Craig Sager and a confirmation by fellow TNT "personality", big sis Cheryl Miller, to finally get Reggie to spill the beans.
Malone leaves the NBA with only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scoring more points and playing more minutes. Two astounding statistical feats that he walked away from. Say what you want about him "piggybacking" with the Lakers last year or possibly the Spurs this year.....but he still had the goods to try to go after both those records, and he didn?t. And, this may not be the most popular comment....but there aren?t too many people that would walk away from a record such as "top scorer in NBA history". That?s like Barry Bonds walking away with 750 lifetime HR.
The record you?d figure Miller to have....the all time 3-pt leader....is his.
There are some major similarities as well. Like I said....Malone is linked with Stockton. Funny that the only player who played their entire career with ONE team longer than Reggie Miller?s 18 seasons with Indiana.....is John Stockton with 19 years in Utah. Also, both players are known for their abilities to "create fouls" and get to the line. Both do the ol? "flop your body into the nearest defender as you take your shot". Malone?s involved a kick of the legs or the extension of the elbows. Miller?s trick was just jumping into someone?s chest or arms when taking a jump shot......then the bee line to the baby powder before toeing the line.
Both are among the most hated players in the league by other players and fans. For every elbow Karl Malone may have thrown....Reggie Miller has chicken scratched an opponent.
Both are also known for having great female relative hoops players....both named Cheryl. I mean, Cheryl Miller is one of the greatest women in basketball history. Cheryl Ford is one of the WNBA's top young talents.
What may ultimately make them NBA legends is that both players turned their small NBA markets into successful NBA franchises. Remember, it had only been about a decade since the Indiana Pacers entered the NBA. With it, Indianapolis went from Hoosiers and the Indy 500 to a legit basketball city. It went from Market Square Garden to the beautiful Conseco Fieldhouse. When Malone arrived on the scene in Salt Lake...yeah, Salt Lake...it was just the 6th season the Jazz had set up shop there....none of which saw the team with a winning record. In fact, the Jazz franchise had never had a winning season in their decade of existence. He and Stockton made it a playoff mainstay.
Love or hate....these players bring out emotions from NBA fans. They are also the top players in their franchise?s histories and have left a huge mark on the league.