There was a time, not too long ago, when the Indiana Pacers were a forgotten franchise. This was for good reason — the team was mediocre and the attendance was even worse. The Pacers and team president Larry Bird were in full-on clean-up mode, and fans didn’t want any part of it. Their spirit had just been crushed after the brawl against the Detroit Pistons and Reggie Miller’s retirement. Needless to say, watching Troy Murphy, T.J. Ford, and Mike Dunleavy lose night in and night out was a bit of a culture shock to a fan base used to consistent success.
But, as always, the night is darkest just before the dawn. The good news is that the dark days are (hopefully) over, and the Pacers organization is now basking in the Sun. Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and a supporting cast of solid, high-character players have brought the organization back to elite levels. George, himself, is an emerging superstar and is apparently ready to take advantage of the perks that come with the territory.
Yesterday, George was announced as the newest spokesman for Gatorade. The deal had been in the works for some time now, and was released a day after George led Indiana past their biggest rival, the Miami Heat, to pad their lead in the increasingly-competitive Eastern Conference. Viewers of the NCAA Basketball Tournament were treated to a Gatorade 15-second TV spot titled “Slam”, featuring George throwing down a monster jam and celebrating the accomplishment.
But, George isn’t the only Pacer to get some commercial love. Head coach Frank Vogel, in his fourth season on the job, finally got a surprise endorsement debut in a Dove soap commercial. The commercial features a humorous conversation with Vogel which follows the formula to an identical Dove commercial featuring Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright.
In the case of the Indiana Pacers, there was a time where press coverage both local and national was almost nonexistent. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. With bright young stars and a team that should compete for years to come, the Pacers will most likely stay in the limelight for quite a while. The franchise is in a much better place, and it is well on its way to becoming one of the most popular teams in the NBA. Compared to the situation they found themselves just a few years ago, that is truly surprising.