Will LeBron hype pump up Pacer pride?

July 8, 2010
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This morning, I get to hear former NBA player and ESPN analyst Tim Legler talk about how NBA players feel about LeBron James’ summer free agency campaign.

He explained there are three camps; Those players that don’t care, those that are interested and understand the hype, and those that are jealous.

Isn’t Legler missing the larger question. What about the fans? What do they think and how will this affect the ticket-buying public? And not just fans in Cleveland, New York and Miami. How about Indiana Pacers fans?

They say any publicity is good publicity. And it’s true, I can’t remember a summer where we’ve talked more about NBA basketball. Still, part of me wonders if all this publicity is all good.

Will it light a fire under Indiana hoops faithful to get in the game and fill Conseco Fieldhouse this fall? Or will it just plain burn them out?

I, for one, would probably skip the one-hour Lebron-a-thon on ESPN tonight if I were not a sports business reporter. Really, do we need a one-hour special show for LeBron to tell us if he’s staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers or going who knows where? The James gang is even selling sponsorships for the broadcast. Holy cow! At least the sponsorship money is reportedly going to charity. Reportedly.

But it’s difficult to deny, that in some respects all this is enough to make your stomach turn. I can’t imagine anyone in this market enjoyed seeing the N.Y. Knicks’ Donnie Walsh chase LeBron around like a love-sick teen-age girl after Justin Bieber.

Walsh is a guy who always wore a serious face when he was president and GM of the Pacers, now he’s at the center so much silliness. Walsh was nothing if not serious and earnest in his efforts to bring Indiana an NBA title.

Of course, Legler thinks all of this craziness is just great for the sport. Having lived my whole life here, I’m not so sure it will have such a positive impact in Indy, which as far as I can tell is still pretty fiscally conservative. When we're talking about players earning $10 million to $20 million annually during the biggest economic swoon since the depression, it's hard not to get a little queasy.

Unless, that is, LeBron shocks the world and comes out in a Pacers jersey. In that case, let the good times roll.

  • Will it increase Pacers attendance? Probably not.

    The Pacers attendance woes are due to a perfect storm. Not winning, coupled with the negative events surrounding Artest and then the myriad arrests for drinking, shooting etc... and the recession. People are thinking twice about how to spend their money, and because of the first two issues, they are choosing not to see the Pacers.

    If the Pacers begin winning, the recession ends, or they get a Reggie Miller type player or any of the above in combination, the fans will come back. But until then, it will be an uphill battle to get the fans in the stands.
  • Bernard can sign LeBron
    Maybe Randy Bernard can get LeBron to sign with the Pacers. According to Robin Miller, he's just about got everything solved on the IndyCar front. Miller giving Bernard an A on his mid-season report card ... what a joke!
  • Gypsies in the palace
    What a circus of greed! I cannot believe that the NBA has gotten to the point where the players are dictating where they'll play and for how much via a series of road shows that ESPN reports on like they're major news events.

    With this "big market/big money" trend gone wild, teams like the Pacers, who cannot afford to throw $100million contracts at available super stars, will be doomed to eternal mediocrity with occasional 1st round visits to the NBA playoffs.

    Then we read there's going to be a "lock-out" next summer as the NBA owners say they're losing gazillions paying these bozos so much money!

    This is why I gave up my Pacer season tickets. I couldn't rationalize contributing to the outrageous salaries paid to a bunch of stiffs (AKA super stars)who seemed to always sleepwalk through the regular season then show up to play during playoff time.
  • Amen
    NBA owners say they're losing gazillions paying these bozos so much money!
    Amen, Steve R., Amen.
  • NBAs Inferior Product
    One of the big problems for the Pacers is the NBA's inferior product. The games and teams are so obviously influenced by the NBA star system. This comes out in the league rules that allow big market/money teams to aggregate the most talented players, and in officiating that favors the big names and teams. Remember the Pacers/LA final game six when they started setting up for the LA victory celebration before the game was over? Remember Kobe elbowing the Kings player in the face and then the Kings player getting called for a charge? Remember the Trailblazers finals? Was anyone suprised this year when the Celtics got twenty more fouls called against them and lost the lead in the last period against LA? Its just very hard to give a damn about the NBA. If you need more proof what a poor product the NBA is, just compare the run and gun of your average NBA game to the intricate team play of college hoops. Which would you rather watch?

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