When kids dream of playing basketball in the NBA, they usually strive to be just like Mike, or Kobe or LeBron or any other high-flying, above-the-rim, commercial-appeal athlete. They focus on the glory that comes with amazing audiences, hence today’s young stars’ mediocre shooting. It’s a tough task to draft a player whose shooting prowess matches his hops and ball-handling skills. That’s why when the NBA is finally graced with a good shooter, the player is around until he decides to call it quits – not often let go by teams, who all can use a clutch shooter. This is why Reggie Miller was such a valuable asset in the NBA. The Indiana Pacers were dead in the water without Miller but were perennial contenders after drafting him out of UCLA with the 11th pick in 1987.
In his career, Miller was as clutch as you could get. His three-point ability was something of legend, and his game-saving three-pointers vs. the Knicks in the playoffs are still some of the NBA’s best highlights.
Miller’s .395 three-point percentage may seem a little misleading. In the context of shooters, that’s an outstanding number. But when the game was on the line, Reggie’s shots were magic, a little better than 50/50. He was money when he needed to be, and everyone from the opposing coach to best online casinos and sports books had to make adjustments based on Miller’s presence.
He was double-teamed, fouled, tossed around, beaten down, and still managed to drain shots on the reg. Miller could kill a team on the court or, at the least, cause some poor gambler a lot of pain and suffering with a last-minute bucket.
All told, Miller drained 2,560 threes, setting the all-time record with no one really close… except Ray Allen.
Ray, a storied veteran himself, drafted by the Timberwolves as their 5th pick in 1996 and playing for Milwaukee and Seattle before finding the right fit in Boston – Allen entered the 2010/11 season trailing Miller by only a few shots and ultimately broke Reggie’s three-point record last Thursday at LA in a loss to the Lakers.
Big deal? Of course it is. Reggie’s record was huge. In fact, now that Allen is #1 and Miller #2, the next closest competitor on the list, Jason Kidd, needs 797 shots to catch Miller, and probably 900 or more to chase down Allen in a hypothetical scenario seeing them both play into their 50s. This will not happen. Kidd has two years on Allen, making him a lot closer to retirement. Reggie took the breaking of his record with a lot of grace, citing that “records are made to be broken.” Whether or not Miller really means this is anyone’s guess, but fans of Reggie can rest their hats on the fact that no one, and I mean no one, ever had the clutch gene like this guy. Some like to mention MJ when they think about “clutch,” but His Airness isn’t even in the top 50 of all-time three-pointers.
Currently, no one the list is within range of Ray Allen or Reggie Miller. The odds someone breaks this record in the next 40 years is 60:1, and that’s being generous. If you want to put some money down that someone like Rashard Lewis can do it, you’d be better off playing online craps or poker.
It would have been nice to see Reggie remain the king of all things three, but students of the game know the difference between Miller and Allen. Ray is great, a pure shooter, but Reggie will ultimately be remembered as the one guy on the planet you want to have the ball with a shot to win.