Yes, yes I know all the bashing of Paul George and how he did the Pacers wrong is the conventional wisdom . And how as a small market team we can’t take these kinds of body blows and be competitive. And how no one respects us and no one wants to come play in Indianapolis. And how my favorite columnist in Indiana (including political columnists) , Bob Kravitz believes that we only have one choice, which is to start rebuilding.
What a bunch of whining. I can hardly take the level of self pity and sanctimony. Paul George is an adult. He wants to go back to his hometown. The NBA is set up for him to leave if he wants, as it should be. Players leave places all the time. I got news for you: so do lawyers, and bankers, and probably even candlestick makers.
The Pacers have a right to be mad at him, but I love what the new GM said about the whole thing. It was a gut punch but he was not going to react out of emotion and do something that might make everybody feel good but might not make sense in the long run. And his waiting around until things mature was itself mature. I think the Pacers will make lemonade out of this. I really do. And I don’t buy for a minute that small market teams can’t win. San Antonio is not exactly a big market. Cleveland may be larger than us but c’mon? If Lebron grew up in Muncie rather than Akron we could win championships too.
Successful NBA teams need one of two things: enough stars to meld together to win a championship or a really fantastic coach. Being a Hoosier native helps, though it is not entirely necessary (see Popovich, Stephens). Great coaches can make players believe in themselves and rise to superstardom. Keep in mind Stephen Curry was drafted 7th, not 1st. Draymon Green was drafted 35th!
I have been a die hard Pacer fan since before Steve Stipanovich put on the uniform. Look him up in the woulda, coulda, shoulda file. Some of the greatest sports memories of my life were watching Reggie Miller, Antonio Davis, Dale Davis, Marc Jackson, Rik Smits and others in that era compete.
In 49 other states it is just basketball, but this is Indiana. With the right coach, any player would have to love to come to Indiana and play. We know basketball. We live basketball. It defines us. We are the best, and the most loyal fans (see Lance Stevenson).
Let’s not despair. Paul George was not our savior. Good luck to him and yes I will boo him when he comes back to town in another uniform. But hell, I booed Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. They had on Celtic and Bulls uniforms, they deserved it.