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Reggie Miller Opens Up On His Rivalry With Michael Jordan: "We Wanted To Be The Team To Retire Michael Jordan. And That Seven-Game Epic Conference Finals, We Poured Everything Out."

Reggie Miller Opens Up On His Rivalry With Michael Jordan: "We Wanted To Be The Team To Retire Michael Jordan. And That Seven-Game Epic Conference Finals, We Poured Everything Out."

The legendary Chicago Bulls of the 90s had to face difficult rivals on their way to six championships. At the start of that magical decade, they finally got past the Detroit Pistons before taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 Finals. 

After that, they engaged in big rivalries with the teams trying to dethrone them. Besides the New York Knicks in the East and the Utah Jazz in the West, the Indiana Pacers were also a big obstacle for the six-time NBA champions. 

Led by Reggie Miller, the Pacers tried so hard to overcome MJ and co., but things never played in their favor. In 1998, the Pacers had an incredible chance to beat the unbeatable Bulls, but things got out of control in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals, allowing Chicago to go to their third straight Finals, eventually winning the title. 

Reggie Miller recently talked about that series and the rivalry he had with MJ and his Bulls. Indiana wanted to be the team that ended Chicago's incredible run, but Jordan wouldn't let that happen. 

"First of all, you're bringing up a lot of mixed emotions here when you talk about those Chicago Bulls and those Indiana Pacers. Look, we wanted to be the team to retire Michael Jordan. And that seven-game epic conference finals, we poured everything out. We threw everything in the kitchen sink at Chicago, and the greatness came through.

"Everyone always says, 'Who is going to be the next Michael Jordan?' They said that about Grant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James. Wasn't fair to those guys because those guys are unbelievable players who brought their own very unique talents to the game.

"There will only be one Michael Jordan. And we tried everything to send him to Cancun, and he had other plans, along with Scottie (Pippen) and Phil Jackson and the rest of those – Steve Kerr. But I don't know if a lot changed. I know the influence the Chicago had on the Lakers, and Kobe and Shaq, and them three-peating."

The duels between the Pacers and Bulls were incredibly intense. Miller himself was involved in a big altercation with His Airness, which changed everything for them. Even though he's stated he'd punch Jordan if they ever crossed paths, the sharpshooter knows that Jordan was something else and has nothing but respect for his former rival. 

He would make it to the Finals a couple of years after that, but the Los Angeles Lakers of Shaq and Kobe were too much to bear for them. Then, when the Pacers assembled a terrific team, the infamous Malice at the Palace brawl took place and ruined all their season. He was unlucky while pursuing that title, but there's no doubt that he left his everything to become an NBA champion.