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LOPRESTI: If only ... alternative sports facts we only wish were true

February 4, 2017

mike lopresti sportsSome phrases you know are immortal the minute you hear them. The very minute. And the first one of 2017 would be ...

Alternative facts.

Not sure how well that works in the White House, but what a fine idea for sports. Think of all the dejected fans through the ages who wouldn’t mind an alternative fact or two, as the cure for a disappointing outcome. Sort of like “It’s a Wonderful Life” meets the sports pub. That includes this neighborhood, where not everything has gone swimmingly lately.

So here we go.

In the Indiana sports world of alternative facts, the Colts are busy in January with playoff games, not deciding who gets fired.

The Pacers are so good, LeBron James actually plays when the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town.

Butler’s opponents are not shooting 60 percent in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Only the Bulldogs and the Hickory Huskers do that.

In the world of alternative facts, the Colts aren’t suddenly looking for a punter, and Pat McAfee is still content with being funny in his spare time.

In the world of alternative facts, Purdue and the month of March get along better.

The Big Ten wins more national basketball championships, since the last bunch to do it—the 2000 Michigan State Spartans—are closing on 40.

Indiana is willing to play Kentucky. Or is that vice versa?

The Colts play better defense. So do the Pacers. So do the Hoosiers. So does Butler at home. Hmmmm. We might have detected a trend here.

In the world of alternative facts, college football games do not need four hours to be played.

The last 90 seconds of a basketball game do not take 15 minutes.

There is no such thing as a November World Series.

The Indianapolis 500 never has to figure out ways to rekindle the good times, because the good times never left.

Notre Dame still shakes down thunder from the sky.

Indiana wins bowl games.

The Cubs win the World Series. Wait, scratch that one.

The Colts remember how to beat the Houston Texans.

Villanova is chasing Butler in the Big East.

It’d be a good idea for the Pacers to keep their June plans open.

The Old Oaken Bucket means something in the Big Ten standings.

In the world of alternative facts, high school games are still played at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The Big Ten doesn’t ship its basketball tournament off to the East Coast. Because downtown Washington, D.C., and midtown Manhattan are for lobbyists and lawyers and politicians and financial dealers and advertising reps, not Wisconsin vs. Michigan State.

You need more than one hand to count all-time NBA Finals games in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Lucas Oil Stadium still hosts Big Ten championship football games. Purdue or Indiana actually plays in one of them.

In the sports world of alternative facts, Gordon Hayward’s shot goes in.

Peyton Manning doesn’t throw that interception against the New Orleans Saints. He doesn’t hurt his neck, either.

Gene Keady takes Purdue to a Final Four.

Paul George doesn’t shatter his leg.

The Pacers-Pistons brawl in the Palace never happens. Neither does the Game 6 loss at home to the Knicks in 1994. The Pacers close out that series, continue on to the NBA Finals, and beat the Houston Rockets. When they implode Market Square Arena, someone has to make sure the 1994 NBA championship banner is taken down first.

In the world of alternative facts, Tom Crean sits down during a game.

The IHSAA doesn’t kick the aura of its basketball tournament to the curb with four classes. Because 20 years after it did, you can still see what having no Final Four and no Cinderella stories did to the magic. The NCAA Tournament blossomed largely because of the appeal of those two very things. Indiana had them first, and outlawed both.

The Colts don’t need a psychologist; Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson just clasp hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

When the question to anyone is, “What’s your view of Andrew Luck?” the correct answer isn’t, “Well, it’s usually him picking himself up off the ground.”

He has time to show how good he is. Or isn’t.

And he and Tom Brady are rivals, not always going their separate ways after the regular season—one to the Super Bowl, the other to the team doctor’s office.

In the world of alternative facts, the next time Indiana University has a reunion for one of its national champions—the 1981 Hoosiers are on the clock for their 40th—Bob Knight shows up out of respect for his guys. Because after all the recriminations and conversations and hard feelings, life is short and it’s just the right thing to do. And anyone in his mid-70s is old enough to understand that.

In the world of alternative facts, lines at the concession stands are short, parking is easy, traffic is light, tickets are cheap, and nobody in your row ever makes you stand up to let them out until there is a break.

But that’s probably asking a bit too much.•

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Lopresti is a lifelong resident of Richmond and a graduate of Ball State University. He was a columnist for USA Today and Gannett newspapers for 31 years; he covered 34 Final Fours, 30 Super Bowls, 32 World Series and 16 Olympics. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mlopresti@ibj.com.

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