I put the words the best in quotes, because if he isn't the best he is in the top 2 or 3.


Question: Seven of the Pacers players, to the best of my knowledge, have never played for any other NBA team. Jonathan Bender, Austin Croshere, Jeff Foster, Al Harrington, Fred Jones, Reggie Miller and Jamaal Tinsley. That's over half of the Pacers' roster.

I checked out a couple of other teams' rosters and none of them came close to matching the Pacers on this statistic. It seems the Pacers organization has a strong desire to develop their pool of talent and avoids trading off their players as much as possible.

One would think that this probably helps create a better atmosphere amongst the players and management. Is this unusual in the NBA? (Bob from Indianapolis)

Answer: These days it is. There's a constant drum beat for change, originating with fans as well as talk show and internet media types. Trade rumors have become a year-round thing. But stability usually wins.

Chemistry obviously is important in basketball, and Donnie Walsh has shown the ability to ignore the cries for change and let it develop. People wanted him to trade Rik Smits early in his career. They wanted him to break up the Pacers after they lost to the Knicks in the 1999 playoffs. They wanted a lot of changes during Isiah Thomas' first two seasons as coach, but he held firm except for the trade with Chicago that brought the center they lacked. They wanted him to get rid of Ron Artest. I could go on.

I look around the league and see teams with losing records that have as much or almost as much talent as the Pacers. But they lack a winning culture and chemistry. Most teams simply don't have the patience or strength to stand up to the pleas for change. Chicago, for example. It once had Brad Miller, Elton Brand and Ron Artest on its roster. What it didn't have was the foresight or patience to let them develop.