Two years after Reggie Miller, excuse me, Hall of Famer Reggie Miller (much better) retired he flirted seriously with making a comeback in a supporting role with the Boston Celtics. Eventually Reg let the urge to return pass, and part of that decision was due to the input from fellow Hall of Famer Mel Daniels.
Daniels discusses his role in discouraging Reggie from a return to the NBA during a One on One interview with Mark Montieth (on page 19, 11/1/09) which re-aired recently surrounding the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. As Daniels mentions, he had been there and done that, trying a return from retirement with the New York Knicks after being retired for a season. In his words, it didn't work and he didn't think a comeback would work for Reggie
As a mentor, friend and confidant throughout Reggie's career, Mel didn't just call Reggie to discuss the situation. Instead, the big man who thrived on physical play in the ABA and was always quick to fight, wrote Reggie a poem.
Daniels started writing poetry in junior high school as a means for doodling through class. He estimates scratching out thousands of poems over the years including one for Reggie when he was considering a comeback with the Boston Celtics after retiring with the Pacers. Daniels read the poem, which I transcribed below (not an easy task), but please listen to the whole interview, it is quite entertaining.
Once the decision's finally made and you are comfortable with the thought
There's no turning back now my man, your body is just shut off.
And no matter how you make the statement on that final day
Clean your locker and your mind and quietly walk away.
Now for the next few months and especially in the fall
That old urge will come over you and you'll still think you can play basketball.
You'll analyze the game and how it's being played
And say to yourself, if it was me, that shot I'd have easily made.
But the sad reality of it all and it has a lot to do with the truth
The game has just passed you by, let's leave it to the youth.
It's true that you may hit a shot, set a screen just like you once did
But that one shot, one screen, one board, let's leave it for the kids.
Because in the era that you played, those things alone would have never been enough
You've had pride in your game and confidence in yourself, besides you were double tough.
Knowing when to say when, leaving the game better than it was
Knowing in your heart of hearts, you've heard the final buzz.
And thoughts of giving it one more shot will eventually fade away
But that super desire deep inside your heart, will keep telling you, that you can still play.
But as long as there's thoughts and just a thought and you cling to it for fun
Just remember, when you did it the way you did it,
your body was quick, your mind was fresh and my man, you were still young.
Daniels said he wrote the poem in about 20 minutes and that it had an impact on Reggie when he read it to him over the phone -- one Hall of Famer to another.