Reggie Miller will be honored on Friday night along with longtime coach Don Nelson, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and nine others in the biggest induction class in more than 50 years. The former Indiana Pacers star joins big sister Cheryl, a 1995 inductee who is 20 months his elder, to form the first brother-sister pair in the Springfield shrine.
“If you were going to tell me you would have two Hall of Famers from the same family, I probably would have looked at you like you were crazy,” Reggie Miller said Thursday after a ceremony in which the inductees were presented with their Hall of Fame blazers.
“Without Cheryl’s hard work and dedication to the game of basketball, I don’t know if I would ever be on this stage. She’s the reason why I’m here.”
A five-time All-Star and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Reggie Miller retired as the leading 3-point shooter in NBA history and one of the most clutch players in the history of the league. Beloved in Indiana, where he spent his entire 18-year career, he is remembered in New York with equal parts respect and revulsion for scoring eight points in 8.9 seconds to beat the Knicks in a 1995 playoff game.
His competitiveness was developed in childhood games with Cheryl and their three other siblings — not just basketball in the driveway, but also Monopoly or Uno or Risk or dominoes (Darrell Miller made the major leagues as a catcher, and sister Tammy was a high school track star who played volleyball in college).
“No one messed with the Millers,” Reggie said. “And we always had each other’s back. I guess that’s what family is all about.”
Also on stage receiving their Hall of Fame jackets on Thursday were Don Nelson, the winningest coach in NBA history, and Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Ralph Sampson, the only three-time college player of the year, and Jamaal Wilkes, who won two NCAA titles at and four in the NBA, are also among the honorees.
Also to be inducted are seven-time NBA All-Star Chet Walker; the All American Redheads, known as the female Harlem Globetrotters; two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain; former Soviet women’s coach Lidia Alexeeva, who was undefeated in 17 years of international play; the late Don Barksdale, the first black player on the U.S. Olympic team and in the NBA All-Star game; two-time NBA MVP Mel Daniels, and longtime NCAA referee Hank Nichols.
Although most Hall of Famers profess to be surprised when they get the call, Knight made a good case for it: He didn’t even know there was a “contributors” category, so he never considered the possibility that he would be inducted. He will be presented for induction by Michael Jordan and former Georgetown coach John Thompson.