Pacers Rant (ESPN’s 2007 Franchise Rankings Released)

In May of 2004 I swore an oath to never watch the NBA again. The Pacers are my favorite team. It is hard to describe what a huge swing it has been to watch them go from Indiana’s favorite team (on any level) to a laughingstock. For years Reggie Miller and Donnie Walsh worked side by side (along with many other key figures) to make the Pacers the most consistent team in the NBA and one of the most watchable. I rarely missed watching them on tv. Most seasons I would watch about 60 of their games, 2 or 3 in person. I saved most of my money to see them in the playoffs. I’ve probably been to 20 Pacers playoff games over the years including Game 6 in 1998 vs. MJ and the Bulls and Game 4 vs. Kobe and the Lakers. I’ve seen them destroy AI and the Sixers many times. I’ve seen them beat the Knicks (the ultimate thrill). I was there the final home game when they finally broke through to the finals (the actual clinching game was on the road in MSG fittingly). I was holding a “Super Reggie” sign the night Reggie and Jalen Rose put up 40 a piece to beat the Sixers in 2000. I was there in 2004 when Reggie got blocked by Tayshaun Prince in the deciding play of the series.

Following the horrible officiating that I witnessed in that Pistons series in 2004 I swore I would never watch the Pacers play again because of what David Stern had allowed. I threw a classic sports fit that only my wife could really describe. That was the year that defense ruled the NBA and the average scores in the playoffs were in the low 80s. Terrible to watch, especially when you lose because you get mugged on every offensive play. I could go on and on.

The irony here is that I didn’t quit watching. I should have, but I didn’t immediately. It took awhile. Early the next season the brawl in Detroit occurred and the Pacers began their three year downward spiral. No one remembers how good they were in 2004. Reggie is gone and the team is trashed. I say all of this because only 5 years ago the Pacers topped every fan poll (specifically the one the Indianapolis Star did every year which showed who the favorite team in the state was). The Colts for years struggled to pull in more than about 10% of the vote even in the fantastic-to-watch early Manning years. It actually kind of pissed me off because I was a huge Colts fan as well. Basketball really is everything in Indiana. Or was. The good news is that in-state college basketball is getting ready for another heyday.

Take a look at these fan rankings from ESPN.

http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/franchiseRanks

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