View Full Version : Great Article: Describes Most of our Feelings Exactly

11-24-2004, 03:52 AM

Pacers fans support their team, not Stern
Artest may have been wrong, but commissioner has ruined seasonBy Peter Slevin

Updated: 1:14 a.m. ET Nov. 24, 2004INDIANAPOLIS - After the brawl in Detroit and the unprecedented suspensions, some Indiana Pacers fans are starting to consider this the stolen season. Ron Artest may have been wrong to pummel paying customers, but the faithful do not consider him the principal thief. Pretty soon in any conversation, the name of NBA Commissioner David Stern comes into play.

The consensus at Conseco Fieldhouse at the first post-suspension game, in an unlikely 106-96 win Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics: Stern was too tough.

"Definitely way too much," said Mike Russell, 19, a Wabash College freshman who paid $75 for his seat.

"I feel badly for the Indiana fans. They got cheated out of a season," said Dennis Chapman, 74, a retired engineer. He thinks a hefty fine would have sufficed. "You wait a lot of years to have a team that's a real contender, and then to have it ruined like this."

It's a new season for the Pacers, and not nearly the one they wanted. Just months removed from finishing with the NBA's best record, the fight and its aftermath have left the team and its fans reeling. Before the Friday night fight, they had a 7-2 record and dreams of a championship in June.

Tuesday night against the Celtics, they fielded eight players, a young lineup and plenty of questions about what comes next. The Pacers' Larry Bird, president of basketball operations, said he is supporting Artest "100 percent."

For the rest, the fans looked to the action on the floor. By the roars and the comments, the fans felt the same way about the team. The crowd, fearing a blowout, went wild when guard James Jones scored the game's first points on a jumper from the corner. After the Celtics led for the rest of the quarter, the fans erupted in a standing ovation when center Scot Pollard scored in the second quarter take back the lead at 29-28. More cheers sent the Pacers into the locker room at the half up by three. In the game's final minutes, the decibels only climbed.

The night's story line: "Hoosiers" meets the NBA.

"You're seeing guys out there who are giving everything they have. They are underdogs," Murray Strahl, 50, said. "The other players may not have done the things they should have, but they still have the fans' support."

"Larry Bird has asked people to come out and support them," Strahl continued. "The mayor has asked. People are taking that to heart."

Season ticket holders like Jim Elias are hoping the Pacers can play .500 ball and get into the playoffs. At that point, everyone will be back except Artest -- and plenty in the fieldhouse were hoping Stern, or a federal judge, would reduce Artest's season-long suspension. Swingman Stephen Jackson and center-forward Jermaine O'Neal are out for 30 and 25 games, respectively.

Elias described a "general sadness that a promising season is probably not going to end up the way we wanted." He was watching on television as the fight erupted in Detroit and he called it "very surreal." But, he added, "I'm not prepared to hate Ron Artest." "I was a little offended at Stern's flippancy. It was unanimous, 1 to 0," referring to Stern's unilateral decision.

Pacers' supporters talked about Artest, Jackson and O'Neal the way some parents talk of their errant children. "What he did wasn't good, but I still love him. He's my boy. He's a Pacer," Brenda Williams, 54, said of Artest. "I don't agree with what he did. I thought it was terrible. But when he's behaving himself, he plays hard and he's a good player."

Williams, an administrative assistant, said there is a Jekyll-and-Hyde quality to the oft-suspended Artest. But she wants to know what Stern was thinking. Didn't he realize the team was already missing injured shooter Reggie Miller and other players? Doesn't Stern see that he was all but trashing the Pacers' season?

"Looking at the circumstances, the team was short-handed and they suspended three of the best players," said Williams, who thinks Artest would have been properly punished if he had been barred from the All-Star Game. "I'm hoping they can appeal."

So, gone for more than 30 games are Indiana's top three scorers and one of the league's best defenders. Gone, too, is the buzz of a team that made a run last year. But there's the intangible thing, that new story line. There's the notion of moving on, of being underdogs, of being Hoosiers.

The player introductions celebrated Indiana's glorious basketball past. Could it be the future, too? As techno music boomed, the house lights went down and searchlights panned the cheering crowd. The Pacers' young players, who would have been picked as no one's starting lineup a week ago, raced onto the floor.

"In 49 states it's just basketball," the giant screen trumpeted. "But this is Indiana."

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

11-24-2004, 04:02 AM
Great article. :thumbup:

11-24-2004, 07:20 AM
This just further illustrates my belief that this city feels guilty rooting for a favorite, but absolutely adores cheering an underdog. If you could quantify it, I'd bet we'd rank #1 in the nation for love of underdogs. Conseco will be almost as loud as MSA by the time we get to the playoffs if they keep playing well, and we'll be selling out almost every game. Bet on it. Stern actually kinda woke up a sleeping giant in the Pacers fanbase. For too long we had been complacently watching our very good team rack up wins. Now, we get to cheer the underdogs, and their "miraculous" run towards a championship. Just like the 90's Pacers.....

11-24-2004, 07:32 AM
I bet on Christmas, it'll be so loud you won't be able to hear the announcers.

11-24-2004, 08:40 AM
Great article. Sums it up very well.

Roaming Gnome
11-24-2004, 10:23 AM
This article gave me the same chills as the piece Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks wrote on his website regarding how our fans are treating all this. If you didn't see the story on Cuban's site, or read it in the Star...here it is.


The Day After

A lot is going to be said and written about what happened in Detroit. People with opinions will share them. There isnít a single article written that will have an impact. There isnít a single interview spoken that will have an impact. They will all be forgotten quickly.

What the NBA and the Detroit authorities DO will have an impact. I trust both will do their jobs and do them well. Their decisions will also generate tons of opinion that will be quickly forgotten.

While all those who wanted to share their opinions rushed to do so, there was one action that occured yesterday that speaks far louder than anything written or spoken. It was so important that pretty much everyone missed it.

There was a Day After referendum held in Indianapolis yesterday.

On the night that the depleted Pacers faced the Orlando Magic the fans of the Pacers and the NBA in Indianapolis had a choice.

They could stay home.

They could go to the game and voice their displeasure with the Pacers and what took place the night before.

They could go to the game and voice their support for the Pacers and the NBA.

In Denver, for our game with the Nuggets, I went to the ESPN SportsZone specifically to watch and see how the fans and customers of the Pacers and NBA would vote. I knew how the players would respond. They would play their hearts out. I wanted to see how the fans would respond.

Everytime the Magic would make a run, you could see the fans start to wonder if this would be where the overmatched Pacers would fall apart. I sat watching , wondering the same thing. For every Magic run. The Pacers answered. With every answer, the fans stepped up their energy.

Pacers fans were on their feet for much of the fourth quarter cheering on their team. They were truly the 6th man on the court, encouraging their team. Infusing a dog tired Pacer team with energy.

When a potentially game tying 3 pointer didnít go in, they gave their team a ďrowdy standing ovation Ē as they walked off the court. The Pacers fans voted and the results were loud and clear.

Thank you to all the Pacers fans and the city of Indianapolis.