When I worked at CBS, we had a huge set of file cabinets full of obituary material. In there you'd find files with names of famous living people like Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan. And whenever any of those people did anything spectacularly memorable, we'd put the relevant videotape, or audiotape, or newspaper articles in the file. That way, when they died, an intern could saunter across the room, pull the file, and have the network up to speed with all this great archive material, without even having to do any research.
What this system lacks in tenderness it makes up for in efficiency. When Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot, for instance, I remember freaking out at the thought of trying to chase down footage of the man overseas. But it turned out we had an obituary file for him, and within a few minutes we were on the air with touching retrospectives. (The inescapable message to a young newsman: See! Just because someone dies is no reason to get upset.)
As we speak, I guarantee you that at every major national sports media outlet (Sports Illustrated, ESPN, ABC...) they are pulling out the Reggie Miller file today. Not that the man is dying, but tonight is the first night ever that may be the last of his career.
If the Pistons do knock out the Pacers tonight (I'd put money on it), brace yourself for the following phrases in tomorrow's paper:
"8 points in 8.9 seconds"
"rivalry with Spike Lee"
"professional on and off the court"
"all-time record for three-pointers attempted and made"
"18 seasons with one team"
"never did win that title"
Sadly, that's about what you'll get from most newspapers. I'll say this: he's a first-class guy and a first-class player, and I pray that someone goes to the trouble of writing him a first-class send-off. (Please, let it be Gary Smith who writes the Sports Illustrated article.) If I find a good one, I'll be sure to link to it here.