The Pacers’ roster, coaching staff, and their fans all came away losers when last night’s game ended. Indiana struggled to contain a Lakers team without Kobe Bryant for three quarters.
They couldn’t take advantage of their height when Dwight Howard was in foul trouble, despite playing against a Lakers back line that featured the likes of Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Metta World Peace, and Robert Sacre. They let the undersized back court of Steve Nash and Steve Blake have their way on offense through Mike D’Antoni’s spread pick-and-roll scheme.
Shooters in Purple and Gold were open for most of the night, and when those shots went in, those same shooters heard cheers as if they were back home at Staples Center. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was packed with Lakers fans — so much so that Lakers fans in attendance might’ve outnumbered Pacers fans.
“It sucks,” Indianapolis native, George Hill, told the Indianapolis Star. “It was 70-30 out there (in favor of Lakers fans). These are the same people that want autographs. We’re out there in the community doing what we’re supposed to do on and off the court. Something has to change. It shouldn’t feel like an away game, especially with an important game like this. That’s what it felt like.”
Hill is right, yet he’s wrong in how he went about saying it. These comments come off as whiny — he is frustrated that his Pacers just lost to a team they shouldn’t have, so he directed the animosity towards the fan base.
I dislike the fact that I have to side with the collective fan base of Indianapolis right now. I’ve had to watch this city bounce to whatever team was winning the most at the time. Before the Peyton Manning era, Indianapolis Colts fans were few and far between, and the team was struggling to fill one of the smallest stadiums in the league.
Enter Manning, exit Reggie Miller, and the Circle City started looking a lot more royal blue rather than navy blue.
Now, take this fairweather town, combine it with the fact that the Pacers were playing the Lakers, and you’ll see unbalanced crowds like last night.
The Lakers are a global brand. They feature one of the most polarizing players in NBA history, a future hall-of-fame point guard, and a ever-smiling franchise center that is one of the five best players in the league when at full health. When the Lakers travel to opposing arenas, so does a large portion of their fan base.
It’s called star power, something this current Indiana roster lacks. Despite their success over these past two seasons and the fact that the franchise is trending up, they don’t have that one player that when you think of them, you think of him.
Maybe Paul George is that player one day, but he’s not yet. The NBA is built off of dominant individuals who lead a team, not a group of individuals coming together as a team. Hill, who most likely let his frustrations get the best of him last night, seems to not understand this, or is just overlooking it.
Whatever the case, he was wrong last night, and I’m willing to bet he’ll admit that in the future. But the Pacers’ fans, if more of them truly exist out there, were also at fault.
Let it go, George.
Brandon Curry is an NBA columnist for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry