Pacers pick shows who's in charge

June 25, 2009
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tylerIf the Indiana Pacers tonight draft North Carolina center Tyler Hansbrough with the No. 13 selection, you’ll know the people on the business side won out over the people who run basketball operations.

Ideally, the Pacers will choose the very best player available, thus improving the team and attracting more fans to home games and bolstering the team’s sagging bottom line.

That’d be ideal, and Larry Bird, the team's chief of basketball operations, said that’s the way he’ll draft. But the fact is, Bird doesn’t have an ownership stake in the team. And those that sell tickets and sponsorships, know a kid like Hansbrough with an NCAA title in hand and who looks a lot like he just ambled off the set of Hoosiers, will offer the quickest sales and marketing pop. He’s one of the few players in the draft with brand identity and he’ll play well with the team’s constituency during pre- and early-season sales efforts.

But is Hansbrough fool’s gold? Will he really help the Pacers improve? More than a few hoops prognosticators are skeptical of the big man’s ability to make much of a difference. There’s a prevailing thought that the Pacers’ fawning over him has been responsible for bringing Hansbrough into the lottery discussion. Before this month, most considered Hansbrough a late first-round pick at best.

“They’ve picked on Tyler for four years, and all he’s done is won,” Bird said at a press conference Monday.

He’s won in college, the baseball equivalent of AA. The Pacers play in the big-leagues. By most accounts Hansbrough is slow afoot with a nice touch, but limited shooting range. Let’s just say this—he’s no Dirk Nowitzki.

But the Pacers are in a tough spot. Last year the franchise drew 14,182 fans per game. That’s good for 28th in the 30-team league. But that’s a 17.5 percent increase over the previous season. Pacers President Jim Morris said the Pacers were bringing in about $400,000 less in ticket revenue per game than the $900,000 league average. Translation: The Pacers gave away a lot of tickets to get people to sample the product.

Now, it’s time for the Pacers to cash in on that investment, and get the samplers to come back as dues paying members of the Blue and Gold Club.

Let’s hope Bird does what he says he’s going to do: Pick the best basketball player available. But that will require Bird to make one of his most fancy off-court moves. Close his ears, turn his back, shut the door on Pacers officials on the sales and business side and do the right thing for the franchise in the long-run.

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  • Great pick Pacers. An incredible worker, great student and citizen. Will not be a superstar but will be a great role player. Thanks for not taking another bottom feeding thug and wasting a pick
  • Tyler does seem like a very hard worker. Hope his work ethic shows up the people who think talent is king. Get Dunleavy healthy and maybe the Pacers will be in the 8th spot in the playoffs next year.
  • When I heard his name I called I was really disappointed but then I realized how this could help the Pacers in a lot of ways. Pacers also got A.J. Price of Uconn with #52. Great Picks Pacers.
  • Just another white washing of the Pacer organization. We have the whitest and most un athletic team in the NBA. NO way this team makes the playoffs. Larry Bird needs to go right now.
  • I do believe Larry Bird was considered pretty unathletic in his time. His hard work and hustle proved athleticism is not always the most important thing.
  • Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.
  • Do you remember a guy named Kenny Williams who played with the Pacers in the early 90s? He could jump out of the gym and make some crazy dunkss. But he was not a good basketball player - and he didn't last more than a few years in the league. He couldn't play the game. There's more to basketball than being athletic and quick. A good shot mixed in with smarts and high basketball IQ can go a long way in the NBA. I'll support Tyler and give him his shot. Hope everyone else will, too.
  • The 2nd round pick was a complete waste of a pick. The kid has been convicted of stealing, blew out a knee, and had a brain hemmorage...most experts expected him to not even be drafted. The kid will go straight to the NBDL and never be heard of again.
  • Just another white washing of the Pacer organization

    It's long over due. The thug game runied the Pacers. They are going with quality players and hopefully will go with some Euro's in the future. Now they just need to get rid of Tinsley, Daniels, Ford and Murphy and Dunleavy.
  • While getting rid of the so-called Pacer thugs may be great the white washing of the organization will only go so far if they can't win games.
  • Class trumps thugs and punks any day.
  • Interesting take on Pacers draft pick by columnist Bill Simmons: The Indiana Pacers are on the clock … for going bankrupt. And for making a pick. The pick? Tyler Hansbrough. That launches the N.Y. fans into an Overrated! frenzy. Hey, I'm excited for Indiana's 2009-10 local marketing campaign: a photo of Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster, Hansbrough and Travis Diener with the UPS-like slogan, WHAT CAN WHITE DO FOR YOU?
  • I think Bill Simmons is a hack - we already know he hates Indianapolis, per his articles when we play the Patriots. His remarks are racist. And embarassing. Someone should call him out on this. Everyone else's comments regarding race is disguisting, too. Until the NBA comes out with a roster quota, teams can draft whoever they want. If someone were to complain about an all-black team, they'd be run out of town. Saying the same about white players is no different. Big Daddy - stay away unless you have something productive to say. Brett - your comments reveal that you think black players = thugs. Both of you should be ashamed.
  • Physco T reminds me of the kid from hoosiers that got slammed in to the glass trophy case and they had to PATCH EM' UP! Hopefully his old man does not carry on like Dennis Hopper did in the flick.

    I think he brings a great winning attitude to a younger team that needs direction. He is exactly the type of supporting cast we should be putting around Danny Granger and is a step in the right direction from the mess that Artest, Tinsley and Jackson left.

    P.S. I heard Reggie Miller on the Dan Patrick show today going nuts over his love for Micheal Jackson. Apparently Reg is a huge fan and claims that MJ is the best entertainer of all time better than Elvis and the Beatles...thoughts???
  • Tinsley, Daniels, Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest, Al Harrington etc. would be thugs no matter what color they were. Character counts, especially in business and NBA teams are starting to wise up. The Pacers need to continue to draft and trade for players like Granger, Foster, Hansbrough and Hibbert who contribute on and off the court.
  • Boomer Indy:

    I have a right to my opinion and it is my opinion that the Pacer's care more about having a team full of choir boys, who are preferably white than winning games. DeJuan Blair is going to have twice the career Hansbrough has. That's who Larry should have taken, but hey he got another white guy to add to his collection. Larry needs to go, NOW.
  • Big Daddy - Last thing I'm going to say. You have a right to an opinion, but it was based on race. Pure and simple. A dangerous stereotype, so be sensitive to what you say. Same with Brett in Indy. Don't spew the rhetoric if that's not what you truly mean. DeJuan Blair won't make it in the NBA. Maybe five years. Hansbrough will have the longer career. But that's my opinion. Blair dropped to the second round for a reason.
  • Boomer - Yep that's your opinion. When the Pacer's are hoping to get lucky in the lottery next year while DeJuan Blair is pulling down every rebound in site for the Spurs while playing deep in the playoffs, call Larry and tell him what a great pick Hansbrough was. I am sure their pick next year will suck also if it's left up to Larry.
  • Just like larry said Hansbrough all this kid does is win what the big deal if it doesn't happen than there always next year to recruit someone to help out the team isnt just made of one good/bad draft pick its how the team plays together.I think they'll make it to at least the 2nd round of the play-offs
  • Dajuan Blair is a another Tractor Traylor with bad knees. There is a reason every NBA team passed on him in the first round.
  • Brett:

    The best rebounder to ever play in the NBA, Dennis Rodman, was the 27 pick of the second round. Do the NBA guys know everything?? And there have been plenty of first round mistakes also. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
  • We will have to wait and see. Rodman, although a great rebounder, is not even close to being the best rebounder to ever play in the NBA. He's not in the same league as Chamberlain or Russell and is not in the top 10 all time.


    1. Wilt Chamberlain 22.9
    2. Bill Russell 22.5
    3. Bob Pettit 16.2
    4. Jerry Lucas 15.6
    5. Nate Thurmond 15.0
    6. Wes Unseld 14.0
    7. Walt Bellamy 13.7
    8. Dave Cowens 13.6
    9. Elgin Baylor 13.5
    10. George Mikan 13.4
    11. Dennis Rodman 13.1
    12. Willis Reed 12.9
  • Your all-time list proves this: Rodman is the best rebounder the league has seen for the last 25 plus years. And it's awfully difficult to compare players of different generations. I don't think anyone would argue Cowans was a better rebounder than Rodman. Did you ever see the man play. George Mikan, good heavens, they didn't even allow blacks in the league when he played. I agree with Big Daddy on this point, one way or another, the pick of Hansbrough is suspect. And the fact that more Pacers fans aren't outraged proves another point. I'll leave it to you to figure that one out.
  • Bill Russell and Wes Unseld would eat Rodman for dinner regardless of whether he had a dress on and makeup. The league was alot rougher in the 60's and 70's before Rodman ever came into the league. Let's just throw out all of the stats that don't fit with your agenda, how's that? And again, Hansbrough will be a solid player for the Pacers for years. He won't be hanging out a Club Rio and he won't be getting in shoot outs with his posse or biting peoples ears off at 8 Seconds Saloon. Pacers fans that I know, black and white, think it's a great pick but want to see the Pacers make some more moves and get quality players regardless of their skin color.
  • I am looking at the picks made after Hansbrough... and I don't see anyone more worthy of that spot than he was. We needed a Power Forward, we got one of the top three in the draft. Sure we also needed point guards, but as Bird so aptly pointed out, there are potentially seven strong point guards that will hit the free-agent market soon. It remains to be seen where Hansbroughs stock ends up... but the same can be said about every player in the draft this year.

    Big-Daddy... enough with the racist BS. Bird is building a team of complementary players... sort of like the primarily white Celtics team that dominated for years.
  • Indy :

    It's great to have good complementary players, when you have a superstar. The Pacer's don't have a superstar. That primarily white Celtics team you mention above had 2 hall of famers on that team. You don't win in the NBA without superstars. I go to the Pacer games now to see the superstars on the other teams.
  • He has one of the most distinguished college careers in NCAA history, from awards, stats, wins, consistency, acclaim. His numbers ALL 4 YEARS are astounding in Points, Rebounds, Free Throws, Shooting %, and he broke countless records at UNC, in the ACC, and the NCAA. He is a high character kid with infectious energy (on the court at least)... and we got him at 13. We didn't trade up or reach for him. And for the doubters who had other people in mind, who else was a lock??? Earl Clark? Austin Daye? James Johnson? Ty Lawson? ... I don't think so. Bob Kravitz was wade a laughing stock when he quoted If DeJuan Blair is available, you have to take him and then he slid out of the 1st round down to 37. You take a mature, ready to play, good kid with an unparalleled resume and people are questioning that. Why?

    He does fit the image of the Pacers historically. Jeff Foster, Rik Smits, even Brad Miller, Antonio and Dale Davis were all hard nosed effective bigs that were known for intense styles of play and as much for their rebounding and energy with decent offensive game.

    Tyler did average nearly 20 ppg EVERY YEAR in college, let alone the highest level of collegiate play. He brings a well balanced game and decent size. At nearly 6' 10 with almost a 7' 0 wingspan, you can't say he's undersized.

    Why the criticism? I think its a solid pick and I'd take Hansbrough who comes with at least some guarantee over almost any other player that was available at 13.
  • Big-Daddy... any idea what Bird and McHale averaged during their dominant years with the Celts? 25ppg and 22ppg respectively.
    The highly regarded Bill Walton averaged 7.6... not a superstar, but effective complement. Hansbrough is just under that mark in college and didn't have any superstars supporting his performance.

    Let's wait to see how the man who can't jump does before casting him into the Mississippi, heh?
  • Indy:

    Aren't Bird and McHale hall of famers??
  • Exactly. And growing up in Terre Haute while Bird was playing at ISU... I remember a lot of people said the same thing about him coming out of college.

    What made Bird, and McHale so great was the fact that they were complemented by the right players. He knows that, which is why he is building the team the way he is... and incidentally you can't attract a free agent super star with make-shift players who all want to be stars on the roster.

    Ron Artest? Good individual player... but without the big-market officiating advantage that Kobe enjoys... he'll never be anything more than a wannabe. AND, he is a thug. The Pacers are doing the right thing re-buildiing this team with players of class and dignity, no matter what the color. Last I checked, Danny Granger is black.
  • Indy:

    So Hansbrough has the talent of a Larry Bird or McHale? He will be a decent pro but again in my opinion, there were better players avaialbe when the Pacer's made their selection.
  • Danny Granger is a superstar, IMO
  • If you didn't notice, it's tough to say Hansbrough's numbers are legitimate. Look at his career and name an NBA quality big man he played against and had a decent game. If you happened to have watched the tourney, when he played griffin he was completely shut down. Unless he makes HUGE strides in the summer league there is no chance of him being anything better than an 8th man.

    As far as AJ Price, most people will tell you it takes a full year to recover from a torn acl and he looked strong for uconn in the tournament. I believe he will turn out to be a good pick and at least a back up to ford this year unless we resign Jack.
  • Brett - Agree on Granger, and I don't think we have seen his basketball yet. I doubt that they will all gel this year, but they have established a nucleus and need to find the right shooting guard to stretch the floor. Keeping Petra would have been a nice supplement to their perimeter game.
  • Big D... I will concede that there may have been better players, but not with the personal attributes and characteristics that Bird wanted, and certainly not positionally.

    Trust me, nobody has been more frustrated with the Pacer's performance since Reggie Miller's retirement... it has been a trying time to be a Pacer's fan, but I am confident that Bird has the right intentions.

    Who knows, in the end he may prove to have been a better head coach than an exec, but under the circumstances... we have to allow him the time to re-build after the Detroit debacle.

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