Reggie Miller’s nickname, The Knick Killer, came from his work for the Indiana Pacers against the New York Knicks in the teams’ 1990’s rivalry. The Knicks and Pacers met 6 times in the playoffs and Miller was a consistent problem for the Knicks. He once scored 8 points in 9 seconds to steal a playoff game from them.
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Why was Reggie Miller’s Nickname The Knick Killer?
Reggie Miller earned his nickname The Knick Killer exactly as you would expect: he was a problem for Patrick Ewing’s Knicks in six different playoff series in their nineties rivalry.
That does not mean the Pacers won all those series. The teams actually split the series 3-3. But Reggie made it tough for the Knicks every time.
1993 – 1995
In the first series of the rivalry, the 1993 Knicks were the clearly better team coming off a 60 win season as the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference. It showed as the Knicks won in four games, but Reggie also scored 31.5 points per game. This was also the year of the infamous John Starks headbutt of Miller.
In 1994 the Knicks and Pacers met in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks were favored but the Pacers took a 3-2 series lead by winning on the road at Madison Square Garden.
That was the famous Spike Lee game where Miller hit a bunch of threes while trash talking with the director.
The Knicks would come back to defeat the Pacers in seven games, but they could not get by Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets in the NBA Finals.
The Pacers and the Knicks met for a third straight year in 1995 and this is where Reggie Miller cemented his Knicks Killer nickname with an all-time performance. In game 1 of the series, he scored 8 incredible points in 9 seconds.
The win in game 1 vaulted the Pacers to a series win over the favored Knicks but they went on to lose the conference finals to a young Shaq’s Orlando Magic squad.
1998 – 2000
The next matchup in the Knicks/Pacers rivalry did not happen for three years and by 1998 the Pacers were the favorites. Miller was once again far and away the leading scorer in the series as the Pacers dispatched New York in five games before losing to Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the conference finals.
Miller was not able to Kill the Knicks in 1999 in what was a strangely strong run for the Knicks through the playoffs. The teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 8th-seeded Knicks pulled off back-to-back upsets in the playoffs.
In this series the Knicks got big performances from Latrell Sprewell and Alan Houston to overcome both an injury to Patrick Ewing and the work of Miller, who once again led the Pacers in scoring in the series. The Knicks went on to lose to Tim Duncan’s Spurs in the Finals.
In 2000, the rivalry concluded with an epic series. The Pacers were the top seed in the Eastern Conference and had home court advantage over the third-seeded Knicks. Reggie Miller helped his team win their first 3 home games to take a 3-2 series lead into game 6 in New York.
In the deciding game 6, Miller scored 34 points including 17 in the 4th quarter to help win the game and the series. The game would be Patrick Ewing’s last game for the Knicks and the win propelled the Pacers to their only NBA Finals appearance.
Reggie Miller was truly the Knicks Killer. Miller’s Pacers actually finished tied 3-3 in their series rivalry with Patrick Ewing’s Knicks. But Miller was the Pacers’ leading scorer in every one of the series and was the overall leading scorer in most of them.
In addition, Miller made big shots and was involved in countless big plays in his series vs the Knicks, most notably his scoring 8 points in 9 seconds to steal game 1 in 1995.
What were Reggie Miller’s other nicknames?
My go to site for all basketball facts is Basketball Reference. When you go to their Reggie Miller page, they claim Miller had several other nicknames including Uncle Reg, Funk and Mighty Mouth.
As much as I respect Basketball Reference, sometimes their nicknames sections can be too comprehensive! One of my favorite examples is Moses “Big Mo” Malone.
Basketball Reference said one of his nicknames was Octobull. When I looked into it, there was a single reference using that, admittedly great, nickname for Malone in the The 1984 Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball.
I’m not sure one reference is enough to give someone a new nickname.
In any case, the situation is similar with Reggie Miller. The names Uncle Reg, Funk and Mighty Mouth don’t seem to have been used much. It would make sense if an occasional headline called Miller Mighty Mouth, but it was not commonly used.
Also, while Basketball Reference didn’t list it, some sources claim Miller was called Miller Time. That seems to be something a headline writer would love but not an actual nickname used by teammates.
Summary: Reggie Miller’s Nickname
Reggie Miller got his nickname The Knick Killer in his great nineties playoff rivalry with the New York Knicks. In the six series that the teams split 3-3, Miller was a perpetual thorn in his opponents’ side. Miller led his team in scoring in all six series and even scored 8 points in 9 seconds to steal a game in Madison Square Garden.
I have been a Boston sports fan for more than forty years. I write about games, players and seasons from the past.