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IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

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  • IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Here is the Benner's article referenced in Peck's thread about the attendance problem.


    http://www.ibj.com/html/detail_page.asp?content=12223

    SPORTS: In defense of the indefensible blue and gold
    Sat. March 08 - 2008
    Bill Benner
    Special to IBJ


    Yes, I’m writing about the Indiana Pacers.

    Their struggles—and, yes, the scrapes with the law and bad judgment exercised by a few—have exposed an ugly underbelly that says as much about us as it does about them.

    It’s a cautionary tale for those riding-high Indianapolis Colts because (1) Peyton Manning won’t play forever, (2) Tony Dungy won’t coach forever, (3) Bill Polian won’t be the decision-maker forever, and (4) the law of legal averages eventually will catch up to any group of young men making lots of money and spending much of their lives in the fast lane.

    In other words, enjoy it while it lasts.

    As I’ve stated in this space before, it wasn’t that long ago that the Pacers could do no wrong and the Colts were the ugly stepchild.

    The month of May meant more than the run-up to the Indy 500. It meant extended playoff runs; Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie; and sold-out, sore-throated crowds at Market Square Arena and then Conseco Fieldhouse.

    Pacers gear flew off the shelves and all the flags that flew from cars were adorned in blue and gold.

    Oh, and Larry Bird was a shrewd hero, not a dumb goat.

    The Colts? They just couldn’t get it right, except for that 1995 playoff burst engineered by Jim Harbaugh. Coaches and general managers came and went. And there was enough dirty laundry (does anyone remember Steve Muhammed?) to keep the non-sports media salivating at the prospect of rich athletes gone bad!!

    When it came to support, they couldn’t sell out the smallest stadium in the NFL.

    Of course, we all know the rest of the story. Jim Irsay became the owner. Irsay begot Polian, who begot Manning and Dungy. The rest of the pieces fell into place.

    The Colts’ ascension coincided with the Pacers’ decline, which became a fall off a cliff on that November night in Auburn Hills, Mich. Ain’t been the same, since.

    Please, do not misconstrue my thoughts about the Pacers. Many of their wounds have been self-inflicted. Yet others also have been circumstantial and, in some instances, things over which they had zero control, starting with an idiot throwing a beer cup.

    Still, it’s a high-profile, high-stakes enterprise where, as I’ve written many times, the bottom line is the one that goes on the scoreboard.

    What frankly irritates the heck out of me is the abandonment of this franchise and the constant pummeling it takes—some of it racially tinged—from folks who simply don’t have a clue about the complexities of running an NBA franchise.

    And some perspective, please. All the Pacers are not thugs (the racist’s favorite code word). For the record, they have 15 players on their roster. Three—Jamal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Shawne Williams—have had both serious legal and judgment issues. A fourth, David Harrison, was suspended after testing positive for marijuana (a test the Pacers, by league rule, couldn’t be notified about until he failed it for a third time). Oh, and the two clowns the public demanded be traded—Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson—were.

    In the meantime, the Pacers team has struggled on the floor, largely because it is missing two-fifths of its starting lineup to injuries. Offensively, they’re darn fun to watch, but their defense is a constant liability and their inability to close out games has been a killer.

    Attendance is last in the league. Last. So much for Indianapolis portraying itself as a great sports town. It’s certainly not a great pro sports town. It’s a fair-weather town where the bandwagon quickly empties. Don’t think it won’t happen to the Colts the first time they slip below .500 and have a couple of off-field incidents. And that’s not a question of if that will happen, but when.

    The Simons saved the Pacer franchise when it was nothing. Without them, there is no Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie. Donnie Walsh made it into one of the NBA’s finest, regardless of market size. Larry Bird coached its finest NBA moment and now has taken on the task of trying to restore its glory. You think he’s doing it for the money? Please. He’s doing it because he’s one of us and because he’s a competitor. Yet he gets trashed as a bumpkin who doesn’t demand accountability. Nonsense.

    Yes, a few knuckleheads have run them through the muck. Yes, some personnel decisions have blown up in their faces.

    But a real pro sports town wouldn’t give up on them like Indy has. If nothing else, fans would show up just to boo ’em.

    Mark my words, these times shall pass for the Pacers and, yes, for the Colts. •

    Benner is associate director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. Listen to his column via podcast at www.ibj.com. To comment on this column, send e-mail to bbenner@ibj.com. Benner also has a blog, www.indyinsights.com.
    Last edited by Putnam; 03-11-2008, 12:39 PM.
    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

  • #2
    Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I believe the Pacers need their fans more than the fans need their Pacers. As soon as the Colts well runs dry (if the well is capable of drying) what will we have?

    And if anyone says the Purdue Boilermakers I am going to puke?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

      If you can get past the wagging finger, there are some valid points.

      However, I suspect very few are going to get past the wagging finger.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

        Oh, but the "real sports town" comment is bogus.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

          I know everyone is going to blast him for daring to expect fans to support the team, but there is a MASSIVE KEY here...

          2003 Manning, Harrison, Dungy and Edge called, they wanted to talk about some blacked out games issues.

          And that, friends, is why I never, ever want to here it in support of the fanbase. They already choked, many times over. They couldn't fill it up to watch Reggie till AFTER a couple of ECF runs, they couldn't keep 5000 Titans fans out of a HOME PLAYOFF GAME, again featuring Manning.

          The fact that they would bail on a losing Pacers team isn't surprising in the least. Is it worse because of incidents, sure, but don't kid yourself into thinking that if it was Reggie, Dale and Jax out there winning 30 that you wouldn't have empty seats....because it's already happened. It's not theory, it's history.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

            Originally posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
            I know everyone is going to blast him for daring to expect fans to support the team, but there is a MASSIVE KEY here...

            2003 Manning, Harrison, Dungy and Edge called, they wanted to talk about some blacked out games issues.

            And that, friends, is why I never, ever want to here it in support of the fanbase. They already choked, many times over. They couldn't fill it up to watch Reggie till AFTER a couple of ECF runs, they couldn't keep 5000 Titans fans out of a HOME PLAYOFF GAME, again featuring Manning.

            The fact that they would bail on a losing Pacers team isn't surprising in the least. Is it worse because of incidents, sure, but don't kid yourself into thinking that if it was Reggie, Dale and Jax out there winning 30 that you wouldn't have empty seats....because it's already happened. It's not theory, it's history.

            Excellent post!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

              Rip me all you'd like, but for what it's worth this is pretty much exactly what I've been saying for the bulk of this season. Especially the part about a few members of the team dragging the rest of the team through the muck. I still think this city would follow these guys ("thugs" and all) if we were winning. I might be wrong, but I really do believe that. On a related note, I really don't like the word thug. Granted, I have used it from time to time, but I really don't like it.
              Passion. Pride. Patience. Pacers

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                Pacers attendance isn't far off of philly, who has triple the population to help fill seats.

                That said, I dare anyone to go to a bar off of Broad Street in Philly and shout "PHILADELPHIA ISN'T A REAL SPORTS TOWN!"

                “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill

                “If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning.” - Catherine Aird

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                  Down below where it lists his accomplishments and current goings on it needs to also say.

                  Bill Benner brother to current Pacers Public Relations Person David Benner.

                  That does not make his message change one way or the other, if you think he's right he's still right or if you think he's wrong he's still wrong. But in the interest of disclosure anytime he writes about the Pacers this needs to be stated.

                  As to his points of view. I'm torn.

                  IMO, there is nothing wrong and I mean nothing wrong with the fans punishing the team for it's direction. Please, show up to boo c'mon.

                  If that occured belive me we would have post after post after post on here telling us all how wrong that was.

                  Also management would be under zero pressure make changes. Oh sure they would like for people to come and cheer but they can console themselves with the revenue from the sold out seats.

                  However right now from every single solitary member of management up to the owner himself we have heard that they know they have to make immediate changes.

                  Do you think we would be getting this response if the fieldhouse was selling at least 15,000 seats a night? You would like to think yes but I think if we are being honest with ourselves we would all say no.

                  So on the one hand, IMO, the fans saying "No more" is a good thing.

                  Now on the other hand not supporting the team just because they are not winning this year is a bad thing. Teams will go up and down in the standing that is a given.

                  However contrary to what some people on here want you to believe, this fan revolt is not purely about wins/losses.

                  Would there be more people in the stands if they were winning at a 50 pace and favored in the East? You bet. But it probably wouldn't be sold out and the support around town would be soft at best.

                  So in summery, go Pacers


                  Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                    I agree wholeheartedly with both the author of this article and Naptown Seth.

                    If the Pacers or the Colts leave town due to a lack of support, I won't support Indianapolis sports anymore. It absolutely sickens me to see friends, even members of my family decry the Pacers for sucking when only 7 or 8 years ago they were wearing Pacers gear and saying they would never root for the loser Colts. Now, they're all decked out in Colts gear.

                    I love the Colts, own some Super Bowl gear, but the Pacers have and always will be my team. If the Pacers do come back and have success in Indy (I think eventually, at least hope, they will) I know that I'll grin a little bit every time I see ecstatic fans in their Granger jerseys screaming their hearts out in the Fieldhouse, wondering where those fans were 5-10 years ago when we were all here dissecting a 12 point loss to some mediocre team like the Bulls, wondering if the Pacers would would ever return to greatness.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                      Originally posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
                      I know everyone is going to blast him for daring to expect fans to support the team, but there is a MASSIVE KEY here...

                      2003 Manning, Harrison, Dungy and Edge called, they wanted to talk about some blacked out games issues.

                      And that, friends, is why I never, ever want to here it in support of the fanbase. They already choked, many times over. They couldn't fill it up to watch Reggie till AFTER a couple of ECF runs, they couldn't keep 5000 Titans fans out of a HOME PLAYOFF GAME, again featuring Manning.

                      The fact that they would bail on a losing Pacers team isn't surprising in the least. Is it worse because of incidents, sure, but don't kid yourself into thinking that if it was Reggie, Dale and Jax out there winning 30 that you wouldn't have empty seats....because it's already happened. It's not theory, it's history.
                      So is the legal trouble, the losses, the image of youngsters straight out of high school making more money than my family combined will earn in 3 lifetimes, so is the loss of jobs at

                      Ft Ben
                      Ford
                      GM
                      Chrysler Foundry
                      Western Electric (long ago admitedly)
                      Jenn-Aire

                      plus now the insecurity of those that do have jobs. It is a perfect storm of facts that have led to this. But to blame it on the "fickleness" of the average fan earns a great big FU from Indygeezer. I have the right to determine where my entertainment dollars go. I do not pay my money to see a bad movie just because Sandra Bullock is in it, and I will not allow anybody to degrenate me because I don't choose to spend my money supporting something that has become so detached from what I value. I AM spending money to go see good basketball at Hinkle tonight. That is a value judgement, I get more entertainment for my dollars there.
                      So for some HACK to write that I owe it to the Pacers to spend my few entertainment bucks on them is extremely hypocritical IMPO. The author, afterall is hardly impartial....his brother is associated with the Pacers PR department.

                      EDIT: I agree with Peck 100%. I will always love the Pacers but I make value judgements too.
                      Last edited by indygeezer; 03-11-2008, 01:08 PM. Reason: CYA
                      Ever notice how friendly folks are at a shootin' range??.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                        I agree with Bill Benner 100%.

                        A couple of weeks ago when I suggested maybe the Simons would want to sell the team and if they did sell it - surely the Pacers would leave Indianapolis - many of you scoffed at me, then we read what Vecsey wrote over the weekend.

                        But let me now make another point that I have made before, Indianapolis is a horrible NBA city. 1994 through 2000 was the exception to the rule - that is not the norm here. The norm is a lot closer to what is happening now. Indianapolis likes college, and high school ball - that is what I have heard my whole life and that is what I firmly believe.
                        Last edited by Unclebuck; 03-11-2008, 01:11 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                          Originally posted by indygeezer View Post
                          So is the legal trouble, the losses, the image of youngsters straight out of high school making more money than my family combined will earn in 3 lifetimes, so is the loss of jobs at

                          Ft Ben
                          Ford
                          GM
                          Chrysler Foundry
                          Western Electric (long ago admitedly)
                          Jenn-Aire

                          plus now the insecurity of those that do have jobs. It is a perfect storm of facts that have led to this. But to blame it on the "fickleness" of the average fan earns a great big FU from Indygeezer. I have the right to determine where my entertainment dollars go. I do not pay my money to see a bad movie just because Sandra Bullock is in it, and I will not allow anybody to degrenate me because I don't choose to spend my money supporting something that has become so detached from what I value. I AM spending money to go see good basketball at Hinkle tonight. That is a value judgement, I get more entertainment for my dollars there.
                          So for some HACK to write that I owe it to the Pacers to spend my few entertainment bucks on them is extremely hypocritical IMPO. The author, afterall is hardly impartial....his brother is associated with the Pacers PR department.
                          For me it's not so much attending the games, at least, not working class people doing so.

                          Many people I know can afford seats in the lower bowl and canceled their season tickets never worked at Ford, their jobs at Ice Miller aren't in jeopardy. They've just simple started supporting the Colts exclusively when at one time they were doing the same with the Pacers. It's fickleness IMHO. Whatever happened with sticking with something through thick and thing? If there is an economic necessity that comes about, okay (I don't really see that accounting for too much), but if you've got the money to keep going to games, how can you just turn on something you once professed support for so strongly?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                            Originally posted by dcpacersfan View Post
                            I agree wholeheartedly with both the author of this article and Naptown Seth.

                            If the Pacers or the Colts leave town due to a lack of support, I won't support Indianapolis sports anymore. It absolutely sickens me to see friends, even members of my family decry the Pacers for sucking when only 7 or 8 years ago they were wearing Pacers gear and saying they would never root for the loser Colts. Now, they're all decked out in Colts gear.

                            I love the Colts, own some Super Bowl gear, but the Pacers have and always will be my team. If the Pacers do come back and have success in Indy (I think eventually, at least hope, they will) I know that I'll grin a little bit every time I see ecstatic fans in their Granger jerseys screaming their hearts out in the Fieldhouse, wondering where those fans were 5-10 years ago when we were all here dissecting a 12 point loss to some mediocre team like the Bulls, wondering if the Pacers would would ever return to greatness.
                            I say this all the time. I look forward to Conseco selling out again, but a part of me will be kind of p*ssed when I see this actually happen. If that makes any sense.
                            Passion. Pride. Patience. Pacers

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                            • #15
                              Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

                              Originally posted by dcpacersfan View Post
                              For me it's not so much attending the games, at least, not working class people doing so.

                              Many people I know can afford seats in the lower bowl and canceled their season tickets never worked at Ford, their jobs at Ice Miller aren't in jeopardy. They've just simple started supporting the Colts exclusively when at one time they were doing the same with the Pacers. It's fickleness IMHO. Whatever happened with sticking with something through thick and thing? If there is an economic necessity that comes about, okay (I don't really see that accounting for too much), but if you've got the money to keep going to games, how can you just turn on something you once professed support for so strongly?
                              Without a doubt there is a lot of that. As U.B. stated, this town really is not a good NBA town. Growing up it was always I.U. first last and always then somewhere in there you had the Reds and the Cubs (remember this is back before the Colts)

                              But I'm telling you guys and I know very few of you want to believe me, there are certain members of this area that are punishing the team for what they consider being co-conspiritors in the character department.

                              Yes, I know people who are not going to the games because they feel that the owners and the team did not take any kind of responsibility for Artest till after the atom bomb was dropped.

                              I want to also float out there an unsustantiated rumor that I have heard from several people. I want this to be known right up front I have only heard rumors of this (although from more than one source) so take this with a bag of salt.

                              You know how it is being said that Jackson was traded because the boo's in the fieldhouse? I was told that one of the major reasons this went down was because two very large coperate donors (think local pharmacutical giant and large law firm) threatened to pull all sponsorship, including suites, from the Pacers until he was gone.

                              I've known this for a long time but for some reason I just felt like this was the thread that I had to say it.

                              Again though, these are rumors only. No facts, no names. For all I know it is total poppycock. However one of the people who said this to me has been dead right about anything he has ever told me regarding the Pacers.


                              Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13

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