NBA

Reggie Miller on what he’d say if Michael Jordan had recruited him: ‘I would have told him to go f— himself’

The single biggest difference between the modern NBA and its past is the proliferation of super teams. Superstars routinely spent their entire careers with a single team prior to this century, but nowadays? It’s almost unheard of. That makes Stephen Curry, who has only ever played for the Golden State Warriors, one of the NBA‘s rarest specimens: the loyal legend. 

Reggie Miller followed the same path, albeit to less successful results. He never left the Indiana Pacers, and in discussing Curry with ESPN’s Nick Friedell, he was asked how he might have responded if the superstars of his day had tried to recruit him away from those Pacers.

“No,” Miller said simply. “And if Michael Jordan ever would have called me and tried to sway me to come to Chicago, I would have told him to go f— himself! “I’ll be coming to see you on I-65 or whatever that highway is there. I’ll be down to see you.”

Miller explained that he was simply too competitive to have ever joined the sort of teams that might have gotten him a championship ring. He famously discussed wanting to “retire” Jordan in “The Last Dance,” and his rivalry with the Knicks made joining them untenable. Had he left the Pacers, it would have been for sentimental reasons.

“I never came close to going anywhere else. Contemplating, or other teams sniffing around, like the Knicks, possibly. I already had a storied history against them, right? I couldn’t go there. And if there was ever a place I would have wanted to have gone, it would have been to come back home and play for my hometown Lakers, and my mentors being Magic, Byron [Scott] and Michael Cooper. So there weren’t a lot of options, which was good for me. In today’s game some of these guys get like six or seven teams, which is incredible. I personally did not have that.”

Ironically, Miller was recruited to a superteam once. In 2007, two years after he retired from the NBA, the Boston Celtics tried to bring him back to join their new trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. That team went on to win the title, but Miller decided against joining it because he didn’t believe he could get his body up to speed quickly enough. Miller wouldn’t have been the only Los Angeles native on that team. Pierce grew up rooting for the Lakers as well.

Nowadays, the idea of crossing the lines of a rivalry like that is fairly common. Rajon Rondo has now won championships with both the Lakers and Celtics. But it’s a generational gap, and Curry falls far closer to Miller’s end of the spectrum. Even Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been able to lure him to a new team. Nowadays, it takes far less. 



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