Ice in the Veins

We’ve recently emerged from a week or so of extremely cold weather, as has a good part of the country. Temperatures were in the single digits with wind chills in the negatives, very rare for South Carolina. We had several days of highs below freezing, and it was tough to feel good about doing anything outside.

Earlier in 2022 we added some family members to our household. We brought home baby chicks from Tractor Supply, and before we knew it we were chicken people. Our backyard is now home to four hens. They have their own coop and space to run around, and sometimes get free reign of our fenced in backyard. They have names now and we’ve become pretty attached.

Now with the artic freeze coming through, my focus turned to our outdoor friends. Would they withstand the lowest temperatures of the season (we hope)? Could they get through without frostbite? What could I do to help them? Well it turns out, keeping them dry and away from drafts is critical to getting through the cold weather. I gave them corn before nightfall to help keep them warm and put down some fresh, dry bedding, but I felt helpless mostly. It even kept me up the first night, the coldest.

When I went out to check on them the following morning, I was hoping for normalcy, but honestly expecting the worst. They made it just fine, no signs of frostbite. Who knew these creatures could withstand such tough environments? I’m out there for 10 minutes and I’ve had all I want of the cold. But these birds? The cold gave them a chance to show their toughness, their hardiness, to show what they’re made of.

How on earth does this relate to basketball cards? Well I’ve picked up some cards of my favorite player who often rose to the occasion when the situation looked bleak, who made what looked like impossible plays into reality, who had ice running through his veins. As a Pacers fan, of course I’m talking about Reggie Miller.

Reggie’s clutch plays are well documented. Heroics against the Knicks, a big 3-pointer to push (ha-ha) Michael Jordan’s Bulls to the limit, a banked in three from near-half court against the Nets, the list goes on and on.

And even though Reggie is my biggest plyer collection, by far, with over 550 cards, I haven’t shown off many Reggie cards on this blog at all, which is stunning when I think about it. I’ve made an effort recently to pick up some new 90s inserts for my Reggie collection. I picked them up basically by going year by year on TCDB and looking for inserts I was missing, then checking out listings, etc… These aren’t necessarily cards that have been on my want list for awhile, but sometimes the ‘impulse’ buys are just as nice. I also have some new Reggies on my want list.

I’ve been picking up Ionix Reciprocals recently of some of my favorite players, and this Skyonix set actually caught my eye when I came across a Ray Allen I’ve got in my trade box. While the red around the Ionix logo doesn’t necessarily fit with the blue and yellow border, the shine on these along with the solid design makes for a nice insert set.

What I didn’t realize was how early in his career Reggie held the all-time three-point field goals made record. At this point in 1999 Reggie still had 5 more years of playing left. He’s been passed of course by Ray Allen, Stephen Curry and now James Harden, but he’ll always be the king of the 3-point shot to me, and that’s where he excelled in crunch time as well.

Speaking of Ionix, I came across this new-to-me insert set and noticed Reggie along with his Pacers teammate Jonathan Bender. The Reggie might actually be the most desirable card in the set. At the time of release it probably would have been the rookies such as Elton Brand and Steve Francis. These were inserted at 1:23 packs, essentially one per box. What struck me on this one is the colors, the swirl design, but wow the colors. And again the back showing his 40% three-point percentage for his career to that point. With that volume the percentage is impressive.

The Best Techniques insert from 1999-00 Bowman’s Best takes things up a notch here. It has a refractor like shine, a die-cut with rounded corners, and a shot of Reggie taking his signature 3-point shot. The back has a solid design as well. It’s a great Reggie card and I can’t believe it wasn’t in my collection before. It’s reasonably priced for an insert that looks this good, too.

The card is all about Reggie gravitating to the big moments. It even mentions his game 4 three-pointer against Michael Jordan in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. I can remember where I was and what my reaction was to Reggie making this shot. I jumped up from the living room couch where I was watching and ran into my Dad’s home office yelling. It’s a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and a sports moment that’s hard to top.

Talking nostalgia, seeing Reggie’s Pacer warm-up takes me right back to watching the 90s Pacers growing up. Love it. Then you see Hakeem on the back as a part of this 4 player card, the atomic refractor shine, and you’ve got a winning card here. I was stunned to be able to pick it up for not much more than the going rate of the regular refractor, and the atomic refractor effect can’t be understated. It’s my first Pacers atomic refractor but it surely won’t be the last. Stunning card.

Thanks for the memories, Reggie, and thanks for loving being the enemy, taking the big shots, and living for the Arctic freezes of basketball, the most difficult and high pressure situations on the court.

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