Fans give Pacers warm reception
Jackson works out before Fan Jam, but doesn't participate in event at Conseco
October 9, 2006
By Mike Wells
The cheers were loud. Some fans showed up wearing replica Stephen Jackson jerseys. One fan even held up a sign that read, "We support our Pacers."
The shooting incident involving four Indiana Pacers players early Friday morning seemed to have little effect Sunday at the team's annual Fan Jam at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"I think this city is really excited," forward Jermaine O'Neal said about the estimated 10,000 fans who attended. "Getting the turnout we got makes you feel good. Makes you feel like the city is giving us the opportunity once again to show them we're ready to be a product that's presentable to the public, presentable to the NBA."
Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Jimmie "Snap" Hunter were involved in an altercation outside a Westside strip club early Friday. Jackson was punched in the face and hit by a car, and he fired gun shots, police said. Police continue to investigate.
CEO Donnie Walsh publicly acknowledged for the first time he wasn't happy about the incident.
"I feel secure enough to say we're disappointed about what happened, we're not in favor of what happened," he said. "But beyond that right now there's not much to say because I don't want to interfere with the (legal) process that's going on."
Jackson worked out at Conseco on Sunday but left before the event started. Jackson is out indefinitely while recovering from injuries suffered during the altercation. He has bruises and received stitches in his lip.
O'Neal said Jackson probably won't return until he's healthy.
"I think he's at a point now, when the public sees him again, he wants to be in shape," O'Neal said. "Right now it's a fine line. He's tight-roping the line. People don't quite know about him, and he knows and understands that."
Daniels, Hunter and Tinsley were advised not to talk about the incident. They said Sunday they liked the support they got from the fans.
"These guys have big hearts," Daniels said. "They are forgiving. I'm just glad I got a warm ovation."
Eric Brattain, 15, Indianapolis, walked around Conseco with his hair dyed blue and an autographed Jackson jersey.
"It was terrible what those people did to him and how they ran him over," Brattain said. "They had no right to do that. I'm hoping Jackson is OK and he'll be ready for the season. I'm a big fan of his."
Jack Wright didn't renew his season tickets after 21 years because of the Pacers' "immature antics" in recent seasons.
"I just couldn't take it anymore," Wright said. "I didn't want to do it because of players like Jackson and Tinsley. It's a bad deal all the way around for the Pacers."
When asked why he attended Fan Jam, Wright said, "Only because I was right down the street at the Colts game."
By the end of the evening, the Pacers walked off the court with smiles on their faces after reaching out to the fans.
"I feel like these players are players people will like a lot," Walsh said. "I'm very gratified."