A month after Karl Malone and Gary Payton made their cut-rate deals with the Lakers, sacrificing cash for the opportunity for an NBA title, Reggie Miller re-upped with the Indiana Pacers, for whom he'd played his entire career. Miller then proclaimed a purity of purpose and organizational devotion.
"I didn't want to be like some other guys," Miller said, "who jump on another team's bandwagon just to get a ring."
Take that, fellas.
"If I was coming in here and playing 10 minutes a night, that's riding a coattail," Malone said. "I'll tell you what, I wasn't pulling against the Lakers, but it made my decision a lot easier when they didn't win. When I heard Reggie make his decision, I like Reggie and I won't elaborate, but I'll say this: He had opportunity to do what I did and take less money. But he chose to make more money and stay where he was at. So, God bless him and God bless me."
Miller, who earned $12 million with the Pacers last season, agreed to a two-year contract for about $5 million per season. It is believed the Lakers offered Miller the same deal they did Malone and Payton: Play for less, earn more.
"At some point, somebody had to make some statement to say it's not all about the money all the time," Malone said. "Now, I don't want to hide the fact it wouldn't have been nice to make $10 million a year. Don't get me wrong. But how is that to the regular fan now?
"But, Reggie, Reggie stayed in Indiana for the money. He stayed for the money, I didn't. So let him keep talking. I did hear, 'I'm just glad to end my career where I started.' Reggie, just say you stayed for the money."