As you may be aware of by now, I’m from Indiana (and if you don’t know, now you know). I know you’ve heard the stories about Indiana basketball hysteria, well, they are all true. I’ve have been fortunate enough in my lifetime to travel and spend time in a lot of different places, because of basketball and the military, and I am convienced that no other state in the USA can match our affection for the sport. I had one guy in the Army that used to mess with me all the time because he knew my passion. I’m generally a relaxed person, so he would tell people “do you wanna see Indy get upset? Just tell him that Reggie Miller sucks.” Pleeeease, what ever you do, don’t go there. All hell will break loose.
I say that I am a Lakers fan, and I also really like Cleveland, Denver and Orlando, but that’s excluding the Pacers. I consider them my default favorite team, I’m from Indiana so it’s understood. We did have some great teams though. People always talk about Ewing and Barkley not getting championship because of Michael Jordan but what about Reg? Indiana was better than New York or Philadelphia. Reggie Miller, Chuck “The Rifleman” Persons, Rik Smits, Marc Jackson, Dale and Antonio Davis, Jalen Rose, Chris Mullens…we had some talent! If it weren’t for Mr.Jordan, Reggie would have some rings, not Pat. Even the year prior to “The Brawl” Indiana was good. They still had Reggie, Jermain O’neal (at the time the 3rd best PF in the league after Duncan and Garnett), Artest (just won Defense Player of the Year) and Stephen Jackson, with Tinsley running the point. We made it all the way to the Finals before getting beat by Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers. The following season, even with the Artest suspension, Indiana upset Boston in the first round of the Play-Offs before getting eliminated by the Pistons. The Pistons would go on the the Eastern Finals for 7 consecutive season and still counting.
Needless to say, since then a lot have changed. Reggie is gone, Jermain is gone, even the General Manager Donnie Walsh is gone. Now, Larry Legend is in charge of picking players, and boy does he have a job ahead of him. At the present time, the Pacers is in dead last of the division and have no real chance at winning a title (or even making the Play-Offs for that matter), so why is everyone celebrating these Pacers?
I’m glad you asked.
It’s because Larry Bird went out and got a bunch of “good character guys” to remold his young ball club. Don’t mistake them though, they may have good character, but they also have skillz. Being lead buy 3rd year player, and my choice for this years Most Improved Player, Danny Granger, Indiana has at times shown great promise. So far this season, Indiana is the only team to beat the Lakers and the Celtics. On the other side of the coin, they are probably the only team in the NBA that has lost to Oklahoma City and the LA Clippers. Inconsistency is to be expected from a young team and I’m not really bothered by the losses as I do understant that this is a learning year. We have 7 new people on the roster and last years second leading scorer Mike Dunleavy is yet to play a single minute this season. The chemistry that Indiana is building right now will have to be reworked and rebuilt once Dunleavy returns, so any lofty goals for this season would be unrealistic.
With that said, I still do have goals though. I would love to see Danny Granger suiting up in Pheonix in this years All-Star game and at the end of the season walking away with that Most Improved trophey. I believe that would work wonders for his confidence, his swagger. Right now he believes he can be an elite player, but being selected on the All-Star team will endorse it. It will open his mind and game to do more, be more. Another thing that I would like to see happen is in respect to the rookies. Both Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert are crucial to the future of the franchise, I just want to see them feel more comfortable. We all know, from there college years, they are both talented enough to have long, productive professional careers. When I see them play, though, I get the impression that they are trying to hard. I’m hoping they will grow out of that, it’s fairly normal for rookies. My last goal is that Indiana continues to work. Remember a couple of years ago when Oden was coming out of college and it almost appeared as if teams were losing on purpose to get a lottery pick, that’s what I don not want to see. I want them to remain competitive and hungry. I want them to go out fighting. Still doing the little things, create some good habits, progressing and improving. Just a bunch of young, talented guys learning, growing and working together to bring this franchise up to the heights that an Indiana basketball team deserves.