The Indiana Pacers and the Spin Doctors

January 12, 2009 in Indiana Pacers by pacejmiller

Pacers Warriors Basketball

A Confession

I should get this out in the open early.

I am a huge supporter the the Indiana Pacers, one of the worst franchises in the NBA right now.  I’ve been a loyal follower of this team since 1994, when the legendary Reggie Miller scored 25 points in the 4th quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden (I plan on doing a comprehensive Reggie tribute page some time in the future).  I’ve been with this team through the extremely high ups (the lone Finals appearance in 2000) and the lower than lowest lows (the brawl in Detroit that saw several players suspended for fighting with fans).

From bad to worse

Since Reggie’s retirement in 2005, the team has been in bad shape.  Right now, they are crawling above their lowest point, but they’re not doing very well either, dropping a 120-117 decision tonight to the lowly Golden State Warriors.  Their record currently stands at a pathetic 13-24, good for last place in the Central Division and second last in the Eastern Conference.  Fans have abandoned the team, not just because of the team’s poor performance, but also their various run-ins with the law off the court.

The New Man in Indiana

The only shining spot on the team right now is the young man in the photo above, Danny Granger.  Drafted 17th by the Pacers in 2005, he has emerged as a virtually certain All-Star this season, averaging 26.4 points per game (even Reggie never averaged this much in his career), 4th in the league.  He scored 42 (tying his career high, also established this year) in tonight’s loss.  The guy can make baskets; he can drive, he can shoot the long ball and get to the line.  Plus he is a decent defender with potential to be a great defender.  He is also still young.  Look out for this kid.

The Pacers’ Spin Doctors

What does this have to do with writing?  Well, not much, but if you want to read great ‘spinning’ writing, there is no better site to visit than the Pacers’ website at www.pacers.com.  The one thing the Pacers are good at is spinning things.  Reading their website, you’d never guess that they are cellar dwellers.  They’ve employed spin doctor Conrad Brunner to make even the most dire situations look optimistic.  Every year, the predictions are bright.  New players, new coach, another year under the young team’s belt.  Better chemistry, more time to gel.  The excuses for not producing in the win column keep getting churned out like a factory.  Last year, the Pacers rolled out of the gate with a few early victories, and hopes were sky high.  Then they stumbled as they inevitably do and hopped out of the playoffs.

Never fear, they said, we’re getting rid of the bad seeds on the team: gangster Jamal Tinsley (except he’s not really gone – he’s still around, just not near the team, and he’s still being paid millions) and the chronically injured Jermaine O’Neal (who appears to still be chronically injured in Toronto).  They also brought in a bunch of new players including two ‘fantastic’ rookies.  The team has had another year to gel (which contradicts the previous point).  They even made a ruckus during the NBA draft lottery, when the website beamed with optimism at landing the 1st overall pick with a less than 1% chance.  With the slogan “Quality Players.  Long-term Flexibility.  Bright Future,” who would not be thinking that the sky’s the limit?  Then when the team shocked defending champs the Boston Celtics in just their second game of the season, everyone just about flipped out with excitement – the Pacers are a lock for the playoffs, they said.  Then, not unexpectedly, things started to fall apart again.  Loss piled upon loss.  Don’t worry, they continued to spin, it’s just the tough schedule and back-to-back games and injury to second-leading scorer Mike Dunleavy Jr.  Then the back-to-backs ended.  An easy part of the schedule arrived and passed.  Dunleavy even returned.  However, not translating into wins.  It’s a little early to write the Pacers off again for yet another year, but things are not looking too bright.  It’s hard to blame the fans when they continue to be let down year after year.  It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with next.  If they can spin a 1% chance of winning the lottery into such optimism, imagine what they would say when those odds increase to 15%-25%?