Although it was only seven years ago, many Hoosier natives wish it were closer to a hundred.
Although there have been coaching, player, head office, officiating and fieldhouse name changes, some still are impatiently complaining and wanting more.
On a cold, dark night in November of 2004 the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons were involved in one of the biggest known all out sports brawls of the modern day–and not just with players, but fans as well. (I hate having to be the one to remind people of this, but I’m sure it’s not something easily forgotten about, now is it? I’m looking at you Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com who recently posted a lengthy piece about the event. Although a good read, it does not make what happen anymore easier to swallow than it did when I was 14.)
Now known as Metta World Peace, the then Ron Artest made a name for the Indiana Pacers that some older fans have been reluctant to let go. But I say the past is the past; give the boys a break.
After all, the current set of Pacers make up a group of unselfish, determined, diligent players. When all that is said it’s hard to not want to watch them. So why is the number of game attendants still staggering?
The only answer is that the once bad boy reputation that plagued the team is still holding with them. That needs to be dispelled.
Look at Danny Granger, a forward out of New Mexico, who was the first player drafted to the team in 2005 after the Malice in the Palace. Granger has consistently been a leading man on the team, but he is not ‘the man.’ No one on this team is. There is not one single stand out as an All-Star (although center Roy Hibbert was selected to the All-Star roster this season.)
From Granger and Hibbert to ten-year veteran Jeff Foster and most recent additions Paul George, George Hill and Lance Stephenson, it gets more and more difficult to pick just one favorite player. (I’m a personal big fanatic of Tyler Hansbrough, but can’t forget about David West, Darren Collison or Dahntay Jones.)
From the moment the lights dim and the pre-game ceremonies begin you immediately feel thrilled to be in that arena, no matter the amount of spectators in the stands. The prideful Indiana themed video, players continually saying, “Indiana’s game,” seemingly talking directly to you. Pacemates waving a court-size Pacers logo clad flag and Boomer propelling from the highest rafters in the building, it is a spectacle before the spectacle.
Attending a Pacers game is much more than a social event for sports fan. It becomes a way to show your Hoosier pride and hospitality.
Even through a shortened season due to a NBA lock out, Pacers Sports & Entertainment have paired with organizations to raise funds and awareness. Efforts include the Riley Hospital for Children participants who get to be on the court during the National Anthem and the partnership with the American Red Cross to raise money for tornado relief. Recently the Pacers took part in the Dribble to Stop Diabetes, a campaign in partnership with the American Diabetes Association, to help Indiana residents know the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.
Perhaps you wouldn’t be able to list a player’s stat line or know the starting line up, but with the success of the team so far this season and being on the road to finishing with a winning season, it may be time to start. (To finish off the roster I’ve rattled of we have the newest member, Leandro Barbosa, who was traded to the Pacers in March, Lou Amundson, Jeff Pendergraph and A.J. Price.)
This organization should not need to beg you to come; you should want to be there. The Blue and Gold are striving for excellence, as should the faces in the crowd.
Excellence in being the best cheerers they can be.
Ashley Peek is a senior at Indiana University majoring in Sports Communication/Journalism. Her interests lie in cupcake shops and all things sports. A social media addict (Follow on Twitter! @PEEKAshley) and a born and bred Hoosier. She has full intentions on visiting all MLB parks.