Professional sports is a tough business and the Indiana Pacers have had their share of tough times in recent years. However, this season, the Pacers made the playoffs for the first time since 2006. And they did it with a good group of players who are decent human beings and who represent themselves and the city well.
That is a positive accomplishment considering what their record looked like halfway through the year, coupled with a coaching change midstream. Of course, there are naysayers who point out that, even though the Pacers made the playoffs, they had an overall losing record. Some pundits have said they didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs. Negative headlines shout out that the Pacers had the lowest attendance in the league this season.
So what? They made the playoffs. Only 16 out of 30 teams made the playoffs. Fourteen teams missed the cut. Give the Pacers the credit they deserve. They made progress. And even though they lost the first two games against the Eastern Conference top seed Chicago Bulls, the Pacers played tough, competitive basketball. The games were fun to watch. They certainly showed that they deserve to be in the playoffs.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all the negative press surrounding the Pacers. The Pacers have taken enough of a beating since 2004. They’ve paid their debt to society. Like many businesses, their sales have suffered at the hands of a terrible recession. It’s time to show some love.
I’ve been around long enough to have attended Pacers games back in the glory years of the ABA under then-coach Bobby Leonard. This was long before his glory days as a beloved broadcast commentator known for shouting “Boom Baby” when a three-pointer falls. Speaking of Slick, I understand he has been recovering nicely since his serious heart attack in March, and he’s back on the air for the home playoff games. We wish him well and good health.
From the beginning through the Reggie Miller years, this is a storied franchise. There have been a lot of memorable and great moments provided by the Indiana Pacers over the years. And the positives caused by Mel and Herb Simon buying the team in the early 1980s cannot be overstated. With Mel’s passing, Herb is the sole owner of the Pacers. I know the community appreciates Herb’s continued support and his dedication to keeping the franchise here in Indianapolis.
The Pacers need your support. When you buy season tickets, you don’t just help the team, you support the community. You support the restaurants, pubs, hotels, parking facilities and many other merchants that depend on tens of thousands of people who come downtown for the games and spend money. This creates a lot of jobs, and the money that is spent keeps the downtown economy moving.
Pacers Sports and Entertainment President Jim Morris, President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird and the entire Pacers organization have been working hard to put a winning team on the floor and put the problems of the past in the rearview mirror. They are to be congratulated for making positive progress this year. I see Morris out in the community on a regular basis representing the Pacers organization as they are involved with many philanthropic endeavors. Make no mistake; the Indiana Pacers are good for business in Indianapolis.
I mentioned earlier that it’s time to show some love. How do you do that? Buy some tickets. Renew, or if you cut out or cut back Pacers tickets due to the economy, as your business results continue to improve consider getting back to entertaining your clients at a Pacers game. You don’t have to invest a fortune. There are ticket packages for every budget.
The NBA had a nice resurgence this year. TV viewership was up substantially. The NBA product as a whole has improved. Your Indiana Pacers franchise has also improved, and I know they will work hard to take their game to the next level next year.
Please support your Indiana Pacers!•
Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.