INDIANA'S MOST popular athletes first hit it off at a 2002 photo shoot. "We were there 2 1/2 hours, talking about football, basketball, restaurants, relationships," says Miller, 39. Now they meet a few times a month, usually for dinner, and support each other's charities, donating memorabilia and making appearances for each other. "Reggie sent me two great bottles of wine after I won MVP last year," says Manning, 29. "And he called to congratulate me after I broke [Dan Marino's] record for touchdown passes. I have such respect for Reggie. He's played well his entire career and in one town. I hope to do that."
April 17, 2005
THEY MET in 1995 at a summer basketball camp held by their high school in Queens, N.Y. Though Odom was a junior and Poole a freshman, the pair stayed in touch after Odom transferred to another school, played a year at Rhode Island and went to the NBA. They talk often and get together when they're back home in New York. Last year Odom was with the Heat when Poole was drafted by Miami, but Odom went to the Lakers soon afterward. "[When he came to Miami], I gave him my BMW," says Odom, 25. "Who would have thought two friends who went to the same school would be professionals?"
SEATTLE STORM GUARD
FRIENDS INTRODUCED Crawford and Bird at a charity basketball game in Seattle in 2003. "He was shy," says Bird. "But you could tell he was real down-to-earth." At a postgame dinner they talked about hoops and music, and ever since their platonic friendship has deepened. They e-mail regularly while Bird spends her off-season with Dynamo Moscow in the EuroLeague. "We like similar music. She likes Notorious B.I.G.; I like Jay-Z," says Crawford, a Seattle native who plans to attend Bird's games this summer. "But we never tire of talking basketball. We give each other pointers." --Sarah Thurmond