Throwback Thursday: Reggie Miller considers joining the 2007-08 Celtics
While recently watching the new Netflix documentary, "Untold: Malice at the Palace," about the brawl between the Pacers, Pistons, and fans in 2004, it reminded me that Reggie Miller was almost a member of the 2007-08 World Champion Boston Celtics team.
After the Celtics completed the Kevin Garnett trade, Danny Ainge had to quickly add a bench to this Celtics team in August 2007. Eventually Ainge would sign Eddie House and James Posey, as well as add P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell after the trade deadline in 2008, but back in August, there were serious concerns about the Celtics depth. Boston had traded seven players to acquire Ray Allen and KG.
Reggie Miller's final season in the NBA featured the "Malice in the Palace" brawl. The Pacers were a favorite to win the title that year, but after the fight and suspensions, Reggie's last chance to win a title flew out the window. Ron Artest's suspension was for the entire season, and as good as Jermaine O'Neal was, Indiana wasn't going to win a title with just him and a 39 year old Miller.
For his part, Reggie did average a solid 15 points per game his final season. But after two years off and now 42, could Reggie still give the 2007-08 Celtics something? Again, beggars can't be choosers, and at the time Ainge was desperate to add any veteran help to the bench. Miller wanted to play with KG and try to win a championship in Boston.
Reggie would work out hard for a few weeks in California doing two-a-days, but ultimately decided against a return. Miller didn't think that he could last an entire grueling season and playoffs. In the end, Reggie would have likely been a part of that championship team if not for some miscommunication. Ainge later said, he'd have had no problem giving Miller more time to get ready for the season. That it wasn't necessary that Miller was playing on opening night.
I mean P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell didn't play the whole season with Boston, but they both received the same rings as everyone else. But back then load management was not a thing. It was frowned upon, especially by star players. A decade prior it was one of the reasons why Larry Bird retired after the Olympics. If he wasn't going into a season prepared to play 82 games, he wasn't going to play. Reggie grew up in that culture.
Personally while Reggie could sometimes come off as a punk on the floor, I always respected him. And Larry Bird was a fan, so if he was cool with Reggie, who am I to have an issue with him. Plus Miller was a nuisance to the New York Knicks and Spike Lee, so that was another reason to like him.
Reggie played his whole career for a small market team and I don't think him not winning a ring makes his career accolades less than many others. I think he would have helped the 2007-08 Celtics in a bench role. Never can enough shooters. And just like how I really wanted to see Michael Finley win a ring with Boston in 2010, I think it would have been fun to see Reggie get one here. His presence also would have added to the entertainment factor that season.