"Winning Time" defined Reggie Miller, Pacers

SportsBasketballFootballNew York KnicksEntertainmentMoviesReggie Miller

He was plenty busy with his own thing, with Philadelphia, Phoenix and eventually Houston.

But every now and then, when time afforded, or his own team's season came to an end, Charles Barkley had his eyes on the television.

"It was must see TV," recalled the All-Star forward of the games he'd see between the Knicks and the Pacers-and what games they were.

In their first playoff meeting in the first round in 1993 to their last tussle in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, the back-and-forth, smash-mouth style of basketball was some of the best in a golden era for the NBA. As bruiser himself, it was this blue collar basketball that had Barkley hooked from the start.

"There are very few rivalries in sports where you're like 'Wow, that was pretty amazing,'" said Barkley of the meetings between Indiana and New York. "To have a guy who is a good friend of mine making all those shots, it was great basketball."

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He refers to Reggie Miller, whose 18-year career was built of a lot of the exploits to which he showed in the collection of playoff meetings with the Knicks. Featured often on the national stage, those outside of Indiana were introduced to the lengthy basketball player out of UCLA who made news mostly playing for what the New York media dubbed "The Hicks."

What stands out for most, including Barkley, was Miller's performance in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in New York, when Miller stunned the Knicks by scoring eight points in nine seconds to help lead the Pacers to a win.

"It helped build Reggie Miller's reputation, that's why he's going into the Hall of Fame," said Barkley but even for the series' star, it goes much farther than that. Friday is the perfect example.

A touch of Hollywood made its way to Indianapolis, as the red carpet was rolled out for Miller and other Pacers' dignitaries to celebrate the premiere of the movie that chronicles the Pacers'-Knicks rivalry, "Winning Time." While such moments against the Knicks brought out filmmakers to tell the story, for Miller it helped to build the franchise to which the movie celebrates.

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"We'll what I can say is it help to build this place," said Miller, pointing around to the hundred of fans who lined the stairs in the main lobby of Conseco Fieldhouse to see the event. "Because of the success we had in Market Square Arena."

It was those series in 1994 and 1995 that officially established the Pacers as legitimate NBA Championship contenders, and helped to produce consistent sellouts during home games in Indianapolis. By the time the Pacers beat the Knicks in their last meeting in 2000 to advance to the NBA Finals, the franchise was established as one of the elite in professional basketball.

"We were two teams that worked hard," said former Pacer Derrick McKey of the rivalry. "We tried to do whatever we could to win."

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