Pacers' Hibbert deserves standing ovation

May 2, 2014
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12 minutes, 25 seconds played.

Zero points.

Zero assists.

Two rebounds

Four fouls.

That was Roy Hibbert’s stat line Thursday night in Atlanta.

And I’m giving him a standing ovation today.

Why?

Because there’s one thing about Hibbert’s act that didn’t show up in last night’s stat line.

No pouting.

It’s easy to admire the stars—especially when they’re shining brightly on center stage.

It would be easy in this space to laud Indiana Pacers players Paul George, David West and George Hill after their on-the-court performance in Atlanta Thursday night. And they—and other Pacers players—certainly deserve cheers for beating the Hawks in a do-or-die game.

Sometimes, though, other stars shine just as brightly as the obvious ones. You just have to look a little off-camera to see them.

Thursday night, Hibbert put on a performance that could serve as an example for any young athlete competing at any level. When the cameras were on him, and even when they weren’t, he was a true role model.

I’m not cheering Hibbert for his play on the court, but the way he handled himself last night off the court.

Warming the pines during a big game is tough for anyone to handle. I would imagine it’s a little more difficult for Hibbert, an NBA all-star, who has turned himself into one of the league’s best big men in the last four years.

When the chips were down Thursday night, Hibbert was mostly parked on the bench. He barely played more than one-fourth of the game. He played 18 fewer minutes last night than he averaged during the regular season.

But the fact is, Hibbert has seemed like a fish out of water in this first-round playoff series. So Pacers coach Frank Vogel benched him last night in favor of smaller and faster players who could spread the floor and counter Altanta's lineup.

Much of the local media and hometown fans have been screaming for that move for the better part of the last 10 days. Hibbert had become a drag on the Pacers. And I imagine that realization for Hibbert hurt.

But instead of wearing a frown or scowl like someone who just missed the last train home, Hibbert stood on the sidelines waving a towel, clapping, cheering his teammates, seemingly trying to will the Pacers to victory any way he could. During timeouts, he was the first one off the bench congratulating his teammates for their play and urging them forward.

Maybe it was all an act. If it was, it was a good one. I prefer to think what fans saw Thursday night was genuine.

Either way, Hibbert buried the desire that all big-time athletes have--to shine when the spotlight is on. He sidelined his own desires for the good of the whole. That's a rare quality in our stars these days.

And for that I’m rising up out of my chair today and putting my hands together for No. 55.   
 

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  • Kudos to Roy
    Roy also was cheering hard in game 4 at Atlanta while on the bench. We still believe in you Roy. Atlanta just have too many mobile big guys that don't play underneath.
  • Good Sportsmanship
    Just when it looked like it was out of style, the big man demonstrated it.
  • Hibbert #1 (55)
    I don't normally agree with most of your comments, but I think you are dead on today. It surely would be great if more sports figures would or could act accordingly. Great Job Roy!!!
  • ROLE MODEL
    I SAW A GAME EARLY IN THE SEASON WHERE ROY GOT IN FOUL TROUBLE EARLY AND SAT MOST OF THE GAME BUT HE WAS DEFINITELY CHEERING ON THE TEAM THE WHOLE TIME! HE WAS CLAPPING AND EVERYTHING!! ROY HIBBERT IS THE BEST PACER!!!! GREAT ARTICLE ANTHONY!
  • Really?
    No pouting should be a given in professional sports. Hibbert is paid close to $170,000 a game and put up a goose egg in a game that almost ended their season and we are going to applaud him for almost ending the season? One would argue that a character role model should not be mutually exclusive from a role model that perform AND has great character (see Joakim Noah). Apply this to a business perspective. Would it make sense to be one of the highest paid performers on a sales team, but have the lowest sales (even though you are supportive of your teammates that are performing well?) That doesn’t sound right? Game 7 will show the real Hibbert. Does he have the fight, the Eye of The Tiger or will he continue to let the ATL bigs walk all over him?
  • agree.....but
    I agree that Roy's attitude and character has never seemed to be in doubt. What really stands out for me is how much roy's actions stick out...we've basically gotten to the point where in pro sports we expect pouting, bad attitudes, and me first attitudes. doesn't say a whole lot about our athletes when we feel the need to applaud being a decent human being.
  • Seriously?
    This is worth an article? There is no way possible Hibbert could have possibly pouted by being benched. His play has been horrendous. Look at his +/- numbers. If you recall Alex Rodriguez was benched during the World Series a few years ago because he couldn't hit. A-Rod reacted the same way; he supported the team. That's what a descent teammate does. That's what a player does when they know they're playing terrible. It's not worthy of an article praising him. This would be a relevant article if Hibbert were to take himself out of the games and/or series, which is what should be done by himself or Vogel. If he did that for the better of the team it would be a relevant story. He's an awful match-up with the Hawks and he's killing the team. No need to write an article about an NBA player that is doing what he obviously has to do because of his terrible play on the court.

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