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Fans wanted Steve Alford, but Pacers drafted Reggie Miller

Sep 6, 2012, 8:01 AM EDT

Reggie Miller Getty Images

Fans think with their hearts. That’s the fun of being a fan.

And back in the 1987 draft, the fans in Indiana wanted the Pacers to draft Steve Alford. He was Indiana born and bred, and Alford had just led the Indiana Hosiers to the national championship.

Donnie Walsh was the GM of the Pacers at the time and in speaking to the Indy Star admitted he felt the pressure to draft Alford. But Walsh’s eye had been drawn to a skinny West Coast kid playing at UCLA who could just flat out put the ball in the basket — Reggie Miller.

And with the 11th pick that year, the Pacers took him over Alford. Angering fans but proving smart as Miller went on to a career that lands him in the Hall of Fame this weekend. So, why Miller over Alford?

“Number one, Reggie was a two guard and we needed that position. We had a veteran there, but the guy was getting older and we wanted to try and build our team up….

“I went to (former coach) Jack Ramsey and I gave him a film of Reggie and told him to watch him because I felt like he was a much better basketball player than a shooter. He was a scorer and he incredible basketball smarts. I had been over to Hawaii and I scouted him a lot to know that. Jack, the next day, came to me and said, ‘Let’s take this guy. This guy is good. He’s real good. That’s what we did.’

“I knew Reggie was the guy at a certain point in the process. I wasn’t going to stand up and say it. There was a lot of fan sentiment for Alford because they had just won the championship. The fans weren’t happy the year before when we selected Chuck Person. Chuck won Rookie of the Year and I think it’s pretty obvious that Reggie turned out to be a good pick.”

Ya think? About as good a pick as they could have made.

  1. spellingcopfather - Sep 6, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    What ever happien with (Steve Alford)?

    • deadeyedesign23 - Sep 6, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      He had a pretty short career as a backup. I think he only started like 4 or 5 games in his career. He’s the coach of the University of New Mexico now.

  2. davidly - Sep 6, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Speaking from a local’s perspective, as well as a Boiler fan, I definitely didn’t want them to draft Alford, though I’ll admit I didn’t who Reggie Miller was at that time.

    You gotta respect a Cali boy staying in Indiana all those years. If there is such a thing, he is a definitive Pacer.

  3. makeham98 - Sep 6, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Alford just wasn’t an NBA level talent. Great in the IU system, but not further.

    Bob Knight was extremely angry – bitter ? – that the Pacers didn’t draft him. I guess he didn’t agree that Ann Myers was worth a shot but not Alford.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 6, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      “Bob Knight was extremely angry – bitter ? – that the Pacers didn’t draft him.”

      As a lifelong Hoosier (and IU Basketball fan)…this is funny.
      Coach Knight spent zero time thinking about the Pacers (and their subsequent draft related decisions).
      Coach Knight cared more about combing his eyebrows than the NBA.

  4. stephenolszewski - Sep 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Its pretty clear Reggie was the right choice

  5. tannethrill - Sep 6, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Wonder if he had the opportunity to trade into the position to draft Alford after he took Reggie.

    One of the best 30 for 30s there was. Reggie vs the Knicks covers this in detail and the comments from locals at the time were very funny to watch.

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