Danny Granger faces big pressure

May 13, 2009
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grangerQuestions linger about Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger.

Can Granger, who was named yesterday as the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the 2008-09 season, become a lock down defender ala Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant?

Can Granger develop the killer instinct of legends like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird?

But there’s a bigger question. And the future of the Indiana Pacers franchise may depend on it.

Can Danny Granger become the face of the franchise and ignite this city into a blue and gold frenzy the way Reggie Miller did?

Without that, the Pacers will continue to play before empty seats and owners Herb and Mel Simon will continue to lose money. And eventually, someone will ask the question, “Would the Pacers be better off in another market?” Actually, someone slightly north of the U.S. border might already be asking that question.

But Granger is the one person who can put all that to rest, and even may be able to make the blue and gold nation forget the letters C-I-B.

That’s a lot of pressure for a 26-year-old. But the Pacers and city of Indianapolis need this young man to stand up and do more than hit jump shots. They need him to be a leader on and off the court. He is already showing great promise. He says all the right things. Now he needs to do all the right things.

That means showing dedication to training to be the absolute best that he can be. And yes, he can be quite a bit better. Pacers coaches and NBA scouts agree on that. It also means he needs to step up in a big way off the court. Granger is a Louisiana native who played college ball in New Mexico. Now he has to prove to this community that he’s an Indiana guy.

“Danny Granger’s becoming the face of the franchise isn’t going to be done just because he or the franchise wants it to be done,” said David Morton, president of Sunrise Sports Group, a locally based sports marketing consultancy. “It has to be done strategically and over a prolonged period of time. He needs very clear one-, three-, and five-year goals.”

The effort, Morton said, needs to start with Granger replacing Mike Dunleavy on billboards and in Pacers ad campaigns. Morton also called on Sam Perkins, Pacers vice president of player relations, to step forward and craft a plan to take Granger to the next level.

“What do we know about Danny Granger?” Morton asked. “He’s a good jump shooter. Fans need to know more.”

But wait a minute. Didn’t Reggie Miller become the face of the franchise mainly by foisting the Pacers on his shoulders at times, slaying the N.Y. Knicks in Madison Square Garden a time or two and leading the franchise to the 2000 NBA finals. Was it really part of a strategic effort? No, Morton responded, but times are different.

“This franchise is coming off a very difficult period, and the state of the NBA is in a different place,” Morton said. “Danny Granger has to get out in the community, partner with select organizations and causes, and show he really cares about this city. That’s what creates fandom. That’s what sells tickets.”

Creating fandom. Selling tickets. Now that’s something we can all cheer about.
  • Granger is great and certainly prettier than Troy Murphy. He seems kind of quiet, though. But certainly he's qualified to be the face of the franchise. I love watching him play.
  • Hopefully the stars will align and Granger can be the one the city needs to pull our attention back to this franchise. I miss the atmosphere of the old Pacers, and hope Larry and Granger can take this team to the next level. Stern really did a number on this Franchise. I know some blame it all on the past thugs, but Stern screwed things up as well. That guy needs to go...or the NBA will be a bismal for along time.

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  1. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  2. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............

  3. Good try, Mr. Irwin, but I think we all know the primary motivation for pursuing legal action against the BMV is the HUGE FEES you and your firm expect to receive from the same people you claim to be helping ~ taxpayers! Almost all class action lawsuits end up with the victim receiving a pittance and the lawyers receiving a windfall.

  4. Fix the home life. We're not paying for your child to color, learn letters, numbers and possible self control. YOU raise your children...figure it out! We did. Then they'll do fine in elementary school. Weed out the idiots in public schools, send them well behaved kids (no one expects perfection) and watch what happens! Oh, and pray. A mom.

  5. To clarify, the system Cincinnati building is just a streetcar line which is the cheapest option for rail when you consider light rail (Denver, Portland, and Seattle.) The system (streetcar) that Cincy is building is for a downtown, not a city wide thing. With that said, I think the bus plan make sense and something I shouted to the rooftops about. Most cities with low density and low finances will opt for BRT as it makes more financial and logistical sense. If that route grows and finances are in place, then converting the line to a light rail system is easy as you already have the protected lanes in place. I do think however that Indy should build a streetcar system to connect different areas of downtown. This is the same thing that Tucson, Cincy, Kenosha WI, Portland, and Seattle have done. This allows for easy connections to downtown POI, and allows for more dense growth. Connecting the stadiums to the zoo, convention center, future transit center, and the mall would be one streetcar line that makes sense.