How Reggie, Cheryl Miller used to hustle playground games

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By the end of Friday night, Reggie and Cheryl Miller will be the first ever brother/sister combination enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In fact, Cheryl will be on stage presenting Reggie when he makes his speech.

That gives me a good reason to tell my favorite Miller family story, one Cheryl Miller first told to People Magazine back in 1982 and Reggie recounted in his 1990s book “I Love Being The Enemy.”

The Millers grew up in Riverside, Calif., which is in the Inland Empire about a 40-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles (if there is no traffic, and good luck with that). He and Cheryl grew up on the playground games in that area (Reggie says shooting over Cheryl’s length led to the rainbow arc on his shots).

And the two used to run a little hustle in those playground games. Here is how Miller put it in his book:

“Back in the fifth and sixth grades, we’d go to the courts at John Adams Elementary or Hunt Park and hustle two-on-two games. We had it down to a science. It was the best hustle scam in Riverside, California.

“I’d tell Cheryl to hide in the bushes, and then I’d go up to a couple of older kids and arrange a game. ‘You guys want to play?’ I’d said. ‘I’m by myself … unless you count my sister.’

“Then I’d whistle, and Cheryl would come out from behind the bushes looking like she didn’t know a thing about basketball. You could see the two other guys looking at each other like, ‘Oh, my God, this is going to be easy.’

“We’d play for ten dollars; the first team to 10 by ones would win the money. Then we’d get down, 5-0, double the bet, and then take care of business. I’d look at Cheryl, she’d look at me, we’d wink, and then … 10-5 us, and on our way to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal.”

Miller was clutch even then. Really, Millers. Both of them.

I just love that story.