Reggie Miller nearly turned down 'The Last Dance' due to the 'pain' of old memories

Reggie Miller was a delightful presence in the final episodes of ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance.” He was refreshingly honest and often funny while talking about the knock-down, drag-out
Eastern Conference Finals between his Indiana Pacers and Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1998.

That interview almost didn’t happen, though. Miller had to be convinced to participate in the documentary, and those memories are the reason why.

“The Last Dance” director Jason Hehir went on ESPN’s “Jalen & Jacoby Aftershow” on Sunday once the credits rolled on episode 10, and revealed to hosts David Jacoby and Jalen Rose (Miller’s former teammate) that Miller initially wasn’t keen on sitting down and reliving one of the toughest losses of his career.

“It took us a while to get Reggie,” Hehir said, via CBS Sports. “We called and called and called and emailed and called and called and called, and finally he agreed to sit down. I don't know if he just wasn't getting those calls or if he was avoiding them or what. But he gave a great interview. You gotta hand it to the guy, because I know it must sting still to this day to get that close, because that squad was incredible."

The painful memories of losing the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals almost kept Reggie Miller from interviewing for "The Last Dance." (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

It did still sting for Miller. Rose told Hehir that he talked to his former teammate about interviewing for the documentary, and those memories were holding him back.

“I was trying to initially get him to interview for this doc, and he ain't want to do it,” Rose said, via CBS Sports. “It was too much pain.”

It’s impossible to blame Miller for wanting to avoid those memories. He and the Pacers managed to take the famed Bulls to a rare Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, only to see their chances of winning (and making it to the NBA Finals) slip away in the final minutes. That’s the kind of loss an athlete never gets over, and Miller — who never won an NBA championship — understandably still has feelings about it

It’s a credit to Miller that he was (eventually) able to put those feelings aside and talk about that series with Hehir. His commentary added a lot of depth and context to that section of the documentary, because Jordan’s legacy isn’t just about what he accomplished — it’s also about what he prevented others, like Miller and the Pacers, from accomplishing.

More from Yahoo Sports: