The Indiana Pacers have been my favorite NBA franchise since I was a little kid.  Back in the 1980’s, they were one of the most gut-wrenching teams to watch in the entire league despite their perennial lottery draft picks year after year.  Coaches of high caliber would come and go, but the same players seemed to remain on the roster year after year.  Granted, most of the names did change, but the type of player was always the same.  Chuck Persons was a bright spot for a couple of years, but his overall work-ethic and volatile personality pretty much relegated him as a type of player who would never make his team any better than they already were.  He scored points…”he got his”…but his team would always come up short when it was all said and done. 

Then the Pacers organization did something that would later affect their franchise for almost two full decades.  They drafted a scrawny marksman from UCLA who went by the name of “Reggie Miller“.  By the end of his career, Reggie would not only own the hearts of every Hoosier in the “basketball state” of Indiana, but he would also own a lot of NBA records that will probably be safe for years to come.  No one can shoot the ball quite like Reggie could because the type of player that the NBA is producing these days is more concerned with appearing on the next showing of ESPN and what their clever buddies sitting behind the booths would say about them and their “wicked” abilities.  Stewart Scott is one of the worst at this.  He never holds any of his hood-rat, thug-buddies accountable, but instead thinks of clever things to say about them when they jump sixteen feet in the air and dunk the ball.  The fundamentals of the game have weakened in the past decade and players like Reggie Miller are now few and far between.  They just don’t make ’em like they used to and to the more astute basketball fan today there is less and less of an attractive product placed on the courts of NBA franchises.  The days of watching Stockton and Malone run the pick and roll to perfection; Magic Johnson playing all five positions on the court with amazing success; Michael Jordan freezing us in our seats as he performed some of the most amazing feats all while he involved his entire team; Larry Bird stepping back and effortlessly sinking a thirty-foot shot; and so on…those days are gone.  Now, we’re stuck with the disgusting thuggery of Allen Iverson, Carmella Anthony, Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, and Kobe Bryant (a never-ending soap opera).  These individuals are all brilliant with the ball, but their leadership abilities and overall team management philosophy is non-existent. 

It’s darn-right miserable trying to be a fan of the NBA these days, but if I had complete control of my favorite team (the Indiana Pacers) and the sky was the limit then these are things I would focus on with the purpose of turning the team’s future around AND putting a product on the court that the good people of Indiana could rally behind:

1.  I would get on my knees and beg Rick Carlisle to come back.  I would offer him a contract of his desire and wouldn’t hesitate to give him seven to ten years…guaranteed.  Carlisle was the lone bright-spot for the Pacers during these very troubling years of late.  The fact that he DIDN’T receive the Coach of the Year honors in 2005 for holding that team together after the infamous “Brawl in Detroit” while still getting the team into the playoffs is a baffling mystery to me and a complete black-eye for the NBA.  Rick Carlisle has proved that he possesses the tools to be a top-tier NBA coach and by losing him we have lost a lot of hope in the future. (more…)