Reggie Miller flipped on the Knicks - Lakers game on Monday night and found himself distressed by what he saw. The Garden crowd that treated him like dirt was actually chanting "MVP" for Kobe Bryant as he dropped 61 on the Knicks and set a new MSG record for points in a game.
"I was texting Spike as the game was going on, saying how disappointed I was in the fans chanting "MVP!" for Kobe," Miller said Tuesday. "I was like, 'How the mighty have fallen.'" Because I remember in times past, I never got cheered. I'm sure Jordan never got cheered. And now they are chanting "MVP!" for Kobe? And all (Lee) kept doing was texting back and going, 'Look, times have changed. The climate has changed.'"
The "MVP" chant was a bit much, but its worth noting that the Garden crowd has always been receptive to great performances. In particular, Miller is flat out wrong about Jordan. When he dropped the double nickel after his first retirement, Jordan was saluted by a crowd that always respected him. He got booed, to be sure, but never as much as Miller, and it is certainly worth noting that Miller wasn't as good a player as either Michael or Kobe.
The Knicks crowd has been beaten up in recent years, but if Miller had watched games against teams without a massive national following, he would have seen a fanbase coming back to life. Loud chants of "Defense" in the second half, rousing ovations for Nate Robinson when he dropped 20 in the fourth quarter and the always lively Martin Luther King day crowd against the Bulls.
With prices climbing ever higher, the crowd may never recapture the intensity it once had, but there's something similar growing. It's just up to the Knicks to stoke the flames. To be on the safe side, though, Reggie shouldn't watch when LeBron takes the court, because the reaction is going to be pretty close to what Kobe received on Monday.