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Experience the Meaning of Basketball: Play on a Team

This is part 2 of 3 from the Feb. 8th Reggie Miller/Mark Jackson interview on The Rick Carlisle Show on WIBC. Once again, big ups to Kevin Lee from WIBC for hooking me up with the auido.

This part of the discussion centers around work ethic, accountability, and leadership. Three qualities near and dear to any Pacer fan's heart. Be careful, or you'll get goose bumps listening to the remaining passion and intense loyalty both Reg and Jax have for their teammates and the time they spent together on those great teams in the latter half of the '90s.

Highlights include, Carlisle bringing up how Reggie and Mark approached the game. Both explained their motivation for putting in the hard work. Carlisle then spoke (longingly, it seemed) about the example they set and the impact it had on the team.

RC: You know, being around you guys for several years, both playing with and against and then being involved with coaching. One of the real intangible tangible qualities of a team is internal leadership and, you know, the consistency and having a standard set everyday. And for me, Reggie was the guy that was the setter of the standard. Not the vocal leaders as much, Jack that was you. And I just always thought that the combination of you two guys, the tone that that set on the team, you know, it was sort of a, this invisible force that, you know, drove the team to levels beyond what was maybe sometimes expected or whatever.
Reggie picked up the conversation from there and explained how he was motivated to be his best and work so hard in part because he didn't want to let his teammates down.
Reg: When Jack and I played, everyone on our team held each other accountable and if I wasn't doing something, I knew I would hear it from Mark. I knew I was definitely going to hear it from Dale and Antonio and Rick and Derrick. And the same thing with Mark, I think because you have so much respect for your teammates and you don't want to let `em down. You have to come to practice early, you have to come to practice on time and you have to stay late. When you see Chris Mullin who is arguably one of the greatest shooters ever, coming to practice an hour and a half before and staying an hour and a half later just working on his shooting and footwork. Well, how am I gonna leave the gym? So, I think we liked, we all loved to hold each other accountable because I always knew, if I was slipping I was going to hear it from Mark. And if he was slipping I was going to look at him and be like, "Come on, carry your weight." And I think a lot of that is missing in today's game. We (today's players) don't want to hold each other accountable, we always want to point the fingers and that can't be the case.
This was a strong indictment of the current Pacers. Let me pick on Tinsley, the current floor general. He needs to listen to this conversation when he wakes up each afternoon, maybe then he'd get to practice on time. Maybe he'd take it upon himself to raise his game and challenge others to raise theirs. Not his personality to be a vocal leader? Fine, but there has to be a way to make a positive impact on your teammates, to help make them better, otherwise what's the point? Believe me, Tinsley isn't the only problem the Pacers have, but with his talent he could be part of the solution.

The discussion of leadership and accountability continues until Jax sums up what the game is all about from a player's perspective. There is a payoff for all the hard work and having teammates push each other to their limits even if the basketball world doesn't crown you a champion.

Jax: You know, the beautiful part about it is that you can be accountable, you can talk, you can work hard and do all of those things. At the end of the day, only one team is going to win a championship. So we ran into Michael Jordan. We ran into some great teams. We ran into Kobe and we ran into Shaq. But at the end of the day, we can look at each other and say, "We didn't cheat ourselves." We gave it all we had and because of that I can see Derrick McKey at a Pacer game, or I can see you Coach, or I can see Reg, or I can see Jalen Rose in Phoenix and we can embrace each other, really feel proud of what we were able to share with each other because we didn't cheat ourselves. It was a heck of an experience and something we'll remember for the rest of our lives.
I appreciate hearing Jax's perspective on the success he and his Pacers teammates enjoyed. As fans we are caught up in, you either won or you lost. We judge by the finish line but rarely consider the race or the journey, if you will. We don't follow all of the effort and pain endured through the process of TRYING to win. We don't see all of the blood spilled and tears shed in developing the resolve to play like a champion. To experience that on a team wide-level is to squeeze out everything basketball has to offer to any player, regardless of the score.

Part 2 link: Reggie/MJackson on Rick Carlisle Show, 2