Reggie Miller Retires; Nash Helps Suns Rise

NBA great Reggie Miller retires after a dazzling career and a reputation for big performances in high-pressure situations. And Steve Nash leads the Phoenix Suns into the next round of the playoffs with late-game heroics. Ron Rapaport and Scott Simon discuss the details.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

And if you're just waking up, good for you. We've been here while.

And last night the Phoenix Suns defeated the Dallas Mavericks in overtime, 130-to-126. Next the Suns will face the San Antonio Spurs. And two nights ago, one of the greats of the game took his final shot. Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers is calling it a career after 18 seasons. The Pacers lost their series to the Detroit Pistons, who now move on to the Eastern Conference finals against Miami.

Ron Rapoport, our sports commentator here on WEEKEND EDITION, joins us from Chicago.

Ron, thanks for getting up early again.

RON RAPOPORT reporting:

My pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: What a game last night, and Steve Nash of the Suns...

RAPOPORT: Holy smoke! You know, Scott, there was some controversy about whether Steve Nash should have beaten Shaquille O'Neal for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award a little while ago. All I can say is, `Shut my mouth.'

SIMON: Oh, my word. Now he--how many three-pointers did he hit in critical situations last night?

RAPOPORT: Well, let's see. There was one that ties the game with 5.7 seconds left. RAPOPORT: There was one to win the game in overtime. Scott, the man scored eight points in the last minute of e regulation, seven points in overtime. Listen to this--39 points, OK; 12 assists?

SIMON: Yeah.

RAPOPORT: Hello, Michael Jordan! My God, what a performance.

SIMON: One of the great playoff performances of all time, I think it's safe to say.

Reggie Miller we want to talk about, because he is perhaps the greatest three-point shooter of all time. They're certainly losing a great player, and he was raining threes in during his last game, wasn't he?

RAPOPORT: He certainly was, Scott, and you know, it's not often when you see the players from the other team applauding with the home-crowd fans when somebody leaves the floor, but that's what happened Thursday night in Indianapolis. Larry Brown even called a time-out to, you know, kind of give Reggie his due. It was a remarkable thing.

Yeah, he went out in style--27 points, four three-pointers--but in a way, it was kind of ironic or fitting or coincidental that his last game was a loss. Every time they've gone to the playoffs, his last seas--last game has been a loss because he's never won a title, and that's the one big lack in Reggie Miller's great career.

SIMON: And it raises a question. I assume certainly he's on the fast track to the Hall of Fame, but to play for 18 years and never, never win a title, does that in any way call into reputation his image--his effectiveness as a team player?

RAPOPORT: His reputation, no, but I think it leaves a hole in his career and that Reggie would be the first to say that. There's a sadness. It's a team game. Does it make him the Ernie Banks of basketball? Eighteen seasons, 12th-leading scorer in the NBA, no titles--it's kind of sad, really, isn't it?

SIMON: Yeah.

Well, quickly in the seconds we have left. Do you think the Pistons look on the course to win another championship?

RAPOPORT: No, I it's wide-open, Scott, more so this year than I can ever remember. Detroit has definitely got a shot...

SIMON: OK.

Ron Rapoport, who's our sports commentator here on WEEKEND EDITION, also a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, thanks very much.

RAPOPORT: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: And the time is now 22 minutes before the hour.

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