New Orleans — Reggie Miller rode his sister’s coat-tails all the way to the Hall of Fame.
The five-time All-Star joined longtime NBA coach Don Nelson and college standout Ralph Sampson on Monday as part of a 12-member class that will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. Miller’s sister, Cheryl, was enshrined in 1995.
Miller was at home when he received the call a couple days ago that he had gained entrance to the exclusive club. He quickly called his sister, one of the pioneers of the women’s game.
“I can still hear her screaming in my ear,” Miller said with a smile.
Miller often recalls the story about how his sister would beat him in games of one-on-one growing up. It wasn’t until he’d grown to 6-foot-7 and could block Cheryl’s shot that they finally quit playing those driveway pick-up games.
“She was a role model. She is a role model. She set the bar high for the family,” Miller said, “and I’m just glad I’m on her coat-tails, dragging me along to the Hall of Fame.”
The club in Springfield, Mass., now includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain, four-time NBA champion Jamaal Wilkes, longtime college referee Hank Nichols and the All-American Red Heads — the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
The newcomers were joined by five members of the class who already had been announced: Nike co-founder Phil Knight, ABA star Mel Daniels, seven-time NBA All-Star Chet Walker, Olympian Don Barksdale and Lydija Alexeeva, who led the Soviet Union to two Olympic gold medals.
The class will be inducted during a ceremony scheduled for Sept. 7.
“I was sitting on my back porch, smoking a cigar, when I got the call,” said Nelson, a five-time NBA champion as a player and the winningest coach in league history.
“It was a great moment for me. I’m the luckiest man in the world,” Nelson said. “I’ve been involved with the game of basketball for over 60 years, and I’ve never had a bad day, even when we lost games. They’ve all been great days.”
The 7-foot-4 Sampson was one of the most dominant college players in history, a three-time national player of the year who led Virginia to the Final Four. He was the first overall pick in the NBA draft and a four-time All-Star before injuries finally slowed his career.