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Miller leads Hall of Fame class of 2012
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Reggie Miller rode his sister’s coat-tails all the way to the Hall of Fame.
The five-time All-Star joined longtime NBA coach Don Nelson and college standout Ralph Sampson on Monday as part of a 12-member class that will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. Miller’s sister, Cheryl, was enshrined in 1995.
Miller was at home when he received the call a couple days ago that he had gained entrance to the exclusive club. He quickly called his sister, one of the pioneers of the women’s game.
“I can still hear her screaming in my ear,” Miller said with a smile.
Miller often recalls the story about how his sister would beat him in games of one-on-one growing up. It wasn’t until he’d grown to 6-foot-7 and could block Cheryl’s shot that they finally quit playing those driveway pick-up games.
“She was a role model. She is a role model. She set the bar high for the family,” Miller said, “and I’m just glad I’m on her coat-tails, dragging me along to the Hall of Fame.”
Miller certainly earned the trip in his own right.
After a standout career at UCLA, he became one of the best perimeter shooters in the history of the game. He was part of the 1996 gold medal-winning Olympic team and played more games with one franchise than any player except John Stockton and Karl Malone.
He also caused untold fits for the New York Knicks, for years the biggest rival of his Pacers.
The night at Madison Square Garden that Miller scored an improbable eight points in 8.9 seconds, almost single-handedly winning Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, is chronicled in the Peabody Award-winning documentary, “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks.”
“To be a part of this exclusive club is pretty special,” Miller said.
The club in Springfield, Mass., now includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain, four-time NBA champion Jamaal Wilkes, longtime college referee Hank Nichols and the All-American Red Heads _ the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
The newcomers were joined by five members of the class who already had been announced: Nike co-founder Phil Knight, ABA star Mel Daniels, seven-time NBA All-Star Chet Walker, Olympian Don Barksdale and Lydija Alexeeva, who led the Soviet Union to two Olympic gold medals.
The class will be inducted during a ceremony scheduled for Sept. 7.
“I was sitting on my back porch, smoking a cigar, when I got the call,” said Nelson, a five-time NBA champion as a player and the winningest coach in league history.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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