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Thread: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

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    Default The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    For a few years now, even before that terrible night in the Palace of Auburn Hills, I've felt like my favorite franchise was adrift. I would watch games, write about issues on here, discuss our Pacers with friends and family, but while defending the Pacers against criticism I often felt the knawing, nagging ache in my gut that what I was defending didn't necessarily merit my effort.

    I rooted hard for the Pacers as always, but I often felt the twinges of regret when I could see the problems beginning to grow within us, like a cancer spreading from inside our collective team soul. I praised Ron Artest and his unique talents, all the while knowing in my coaching background that championships can't be won with loose cannons and players so emotionally unreliable. I praised the toughness of Stephen Jackson, all the while knowing that his drama and baggage would end the end be too much for our particular group to withstand. I marveled at the talent of Jamaal Tinsley, arguing with others the merits of giving him more and more chances to shine, making excuses for him, blinded by his ability while all the while knowing deep inside that championship teams are not won by great players, but by great teammates.

    I defended Shawne Williams, for his youthful indescretions, even though I know deep inside that mature and dedicated players create winning atmospheres, not the other way around. I watched silently for the most part when Anthony Johnson proclaimed a few years ago that we needed a "culture change", and tried to look on the bright side when such changes were slow in coming.

    Having hope while expecting to be disappointed is a cautious and unfilfilling way to be in fandom. I have written in my essays on here many times my criticisms of Pacer ownership, franchise marketing, and questioned the heart and desire and intellect of my favorite teams upper echelon. We floundered like a ship in the night, searching frantically for a light in the harbor, where none existed. Instead our Pacers were drifting in the darkness, fixing the leaks as even more were to spring. A very recipe for apathy, many of my friends in regular life, my fellow loyalists, and long time residents of Indianapolis have affirmed this by staying home away from Conseco Fieldhouse.

    But, my faith is being rekindled, and that is what I want this thread to be about today. Regardless of the likely scenario that the Pacers will come up short of the playoffs, their effort has been inspiring to me, and deserves to be recognized and honored here by me today.

    I really feel that the next season will be a renewal of Pacer Pride throughout Indianapolis and the entire state. In a league where routinely individual players, front offices, and coaches almost quit on each other and their fans, this particular group of Pacer players have done the opposite. They have represented us with class, dignity, and honor. They still are not a good team, and still have many flaws that we will all pontificate about all summer long. But we have so much to be thankful about this season, because I really do think important cultural changes in how our franchise operates and looks at things have been achieved, and will carry on.

    I want to praise our head coach, Jim O'Brien. Jim is not perfect.....his system has some pure basketball flaws I don't agree with, his personality isn't the most exciting or dynamic, and I doubt that he ever wins a championship as Pacers coach. But, even though it took a while, I think he will someday be known as the man who began to slowly change the accountability and "laissez faire" attitude that permeated through our lockerroom. O'Brien has excelled in getting alot of mileage and improvement out of players who aren't that talented with a system that while frustrating has at least been entertaining to watch. He is a no nonsense professional coach, and someone who gives instant credibility by working hard, and being a steady hand.

    Next season, I expect he will better know his personnel, and probably won't have to deal with a team so limited talent wise as this one. He will be able to mold our new pickups to fit what he needs, and we will be better just because of the stability and professionalism he brings us. To go from being a good coach to a great coach, he will need, in my view, to be more flexible in adapting to his personnel strategically speaking, coach better during game situations, and will need to learn to rely on his assistants more than he does now, particularly during games.

    I want to commend the attitudes of players like Travis Deiner, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, and others, for playing hard and as well as their abilities allow them to. They have showed toughness, willingness to work and expand their games, and an overall ability to play the right way.

    I want to commend and praise guys like Ike Diogu, Shawne Williams, Kareem Rush, Andre Owens, Flip Murray, and even Marquis Daniels. All these players are flawed, and many of them won't return in 2008-09. But in an era where players who shouldn't still routinely whine, *****, and complain both in private and in public, these guys have remained loyal and steadfast thru a difficult season, which they have starred at times and not played at all during others. Several teams rot at their core because guys at this level quit on themselves, the staff and each other, but we have seen or heard none of that. They have behaved themselves, acted and played like men, and played with honor and dignity though not talented enough to help us win big. They make mistakes clearly, but have done so with purity of spirit, while trying to play the right way. I have enjoyed them being a part of my favorite team.

    Jermaine O'Neal needs to be commended too. I have my doubts about him and his future in Indianapolis for sure, but this is not the thread for that. He has worked hard to come back from an injury that in truth may never fully heal, just to play at 70% of his abilities. I have and will criticize Jermaine's game, his style, his contract, his injury prone nature, and even some of his statements, but I will never question his ability to be a good teammate, and his desire to be good and do good for the franchise and the city. It would have been easy for Jermaine to pout to the media, or to just coast in and collect his checks, but he has tried to help us the best he can, in a situation that gains him nothing but a greater likelihood to change addresses. Even with his flaws, Jermaine has done his best, and I'm proud to have him as a part of the franchise, however long it may last.

    I am not quite benevolent enough today to totally include David Harrison and Jamal Tinsley in my praise. It is with these 2 players in my view that the full work of what I am talking about, which is building a championship atmosphere full of great teammates, is not complete. I believe it is extremely likely that these guys will not return, and for that I am happy. No intelligent team with smart management will touch these 2 individuals, but that doesn't eliminate all that many of NBA teams in reality.

    I want to commend the job of Donnie Walsh, without him I don't think we still have the Pacers in my home state. He gave our franchise a direction, a purpose, and a gravitas that it hadn't had for years, and I thank him for his service and wish him the best.

    Having said that, the most congratulations I want to extend to the end of this season belong to the Pacers ownership and to Larry Bird. Why you ask? I may be whistling in the wind, but I really believe that Larry GETS IT. Perhaps it is that he and I grew up in similar backgrounds 25 miles apart, and that he was my childhood hero like so many of you reading this. But somewhere deep inside me I believe that Larry understands people, understands winning, understands the very fabric of success begins with a banning together of tough individuals banning together to achieve one common goal. I think Larry understands the state of Indiana, and understands how we as a people think, what we crave and what we will and won't settle for. Somewhere in my gut I think Larry Bird will be better at this job that anyone else believes he will. Good ole Southern Indiana common sense, with an undeniable pedigree and unquenchable hunger for winning I believe will prove him very successful, far beyond what any of us can imagine right now.

    I think the Simon brothers are starting to get it too. I believe the Walsh era had grown stale, and the brothers business sense finally kicked in to get them to realize it. They smartly jettisoned the two headed monster and made the right move at the right time. They have become, to me anyway, more engaged and alert to what is happening, and more willing to roll their sleeves up and get involved to fix the marketing and personnel issues we face. Maybe it is just me, but I feel a sense of LIFE, RENEWAL, and ENERGY coming from them and the franchise that I just haven't felt for a long time. I feel like the page has turned, we've seen it as dark as it can get here, and now it is morning in Indianapolis again.

    I've been writing for a while now about the Pacers lack of clear direction and planning. Problem solved.

    I've been writing about a lack of pride in how we play. Problem on the way to being solved.

    I've been writing about a lack of talent. Jim O'Brien is developing some of it we didn't know we had, and more is on the way.

    Sometimes you cannot appreciate how spectacular the lights in the harbor look until you have been adrift in the deep dark night, staring at the sky while dangers gather overhead. I feel like we have weathered the storm, that the good ship Pacers is back on course, and that the beacon ahead is beckoning us toward Championship cove. It will hardly be easy to steer the ship home safely, but I have renewed faith in the worthiness of the crew, and the abilities of the Captains.

    I will have more to say about the upcoming draft, and we will eventually talk about the various moves we could make personnel wise in the offseason. That is fair, and I will look forward to the debate.

    But before we do this, I wanted to thank the Pacers efforts for playing with a pride and heart worthy of champions glory, even if their abilities and talents are not. Because of this, we are much much closer I believe to being very good again quicker than any of us can imagine, I believe that with all my heart.



    As always, this is just my opinion.


    Tbird

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    Call me Kauffie Kaufman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. It shows your dedication to the Pacers and your fanship should be rewarded. If nothing else, what you write is contagious and spreads more interest. I think that you've spun some things here positive as a means of spreading your enthusiasm, and despite disagreeing on a number of points, I respect your opinions.

    Again, bravo on your dedication.
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    TOOO LOOONG.. Lol, I will read the rest later.. I read about half of it and no offense to you, im just bored with it atm.

    The first half was good though.

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Great post Tbird! I also grew up in the general area that you and Bird did. I think as you do, that the Pacers have turned the corner and are headed in the right direction. Bird may come across as a country bumpkin, however he is as strong willed as they come and hates losing period.

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Great post. It's refreshing to read such a positive post that manages to do so while retaining credibility and sincerity.

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    Feed the big fella. Infinite MAN_force's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    I think you made a really good point about what Obrien has brought to the team. The huge improvments in individual players such as Granger, Dunleavy, and Murphy have been under his watch, and that never give up spirit has really filtered down through all the players.

    I am kind of sick of everyone throwing the guy under the bus, I don't really think he is gonna lead us to a championship at the moment, and I have doubts about his system at times, but give me a break. Who are we really gonna replace him with at this point? He has brought a lot of positive things to the team. I at least want to see what he can do when we get some different players in here.

    Ill worry about having a championship caliber coach when we have championship caliber talent.
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Jim O'Brien is the modern day version of Bob Hill.
    "Sometimes, when you look Andy in the eyes, you get a feeling somebody else is driving." -- David Letterman

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    I agree with everything tbird says. This is exactly my mindset. I think that the pacers may suprise people next year. Here are the keys to next year.
    1. Have a good draft.
    2. Resign foster and possibly rush
    3. Clear up cap space
    4. find a starting pg/free agency/trades
    5. Get healthy
    6. stay out of trouble
    7. Improve the D

    maybe i'm asking too much for one offseason.
    Passion, Pride, Playoffs, Pacers

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman View Post
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    I agree with everything tbird says. This is exactly my mindset. I think that the pacers may suprise people next year. Here are the keys to next year.
    1. Have a good draft.
    2. Resign
    3. Clear up cap space
    4. find a starting pg/free agency/trades
    5. Get healthy
    6. stay out of trouble
    7. Improve the D

    maybe i'm asking too much for one offseason.
    Those would seem to be the ultimate, most ideal goals of just about every team in every offseason short of acquiring Tim Duncan or Lebron. Who DOESN'T want to accomplish those things?

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    Horologist Extraordinaire t1hs0n's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    I feel that you should send this to the star and dare them to run counter to ol' bobby kravitz.

    I really feel that causal fans can be, and were, turned off by all the disparaging "reporting" we have had in the local paper about the state of the team. I am not one for myopic spin just to proffer blind good will for the hometown franchise, but someone needs to lead the horse to watter and not just beat it to death with a stick.

    Dunno... just a thought.

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Quote Originally Posted by t1hs0n View Post
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    I feel that you should send this to the star and dare them to run counter to ol' bobby kravitz.

    I really feel that causal fans can be, and were, turned off by all the disparaging "reporting" we have had in the local paper about the state of the team. I am not one for myopic spin just to proffer blind good will for the hometown franchise, but someone needs to lead the horse to watter and not just beat it to death with a stick.

    Dunno... just a thought.

    I like that idea. It would be nice if people could read a positive pacer story from someone who knows basketball. I wonder if they would print it.
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal View Post
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    Great post. It's refreshing to read such a positive post that manages to do so while retaining credibility and sincerity.

    Thanks, that was very nice of you to say.

    If there is one thing that experience should tell us, is that CHARACTER MATTERS. It matters in business, in politics, and most definitely in building successful basketball teams. I feel like in the end Donnie Walsh, while intellectually knowing that, started reaching for talented but troubled players, and forgot the importance of having a team filled with great teammates, who work together and totally buy in to the team concept. I just feel like for the first time in long time that the Pacers coaching staff and management are on the same page. We have a long way to go, and still some moves to make, but I have more confidence in the direction we are headed than I have had in a long time.

    Incidentally, my best guess is that Bob Kravitz agrees more or less with my outlook, and that you may see a similar article soon, with a slightly different slant than I put on it.

    Just a guess......

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    This is a fantastic post. I like your piece on O'Brien, and I as well think that he's the kind of coach that we need for the team. You can tell he wants to get the job done too, as whenever we lose, he gets discouraged and drops his head down at the post-game press conferences. He has that winning attitude and I believe when we have the right parts and click, he'll be able to make the most of our situation (which he's doing right now, too) and his coaching ability will shine.

    To add to this post if it wasn't touched on already and I skipped past it, I loved the energy of the crowd in the game against Charlotte on Saturday. It gave me goosebumps actually to see the crowd fired up down the stretch when Diener hit the three to cut the deficit to 1. I firmly believe this state has the best fans, and when the Fieldhouse fills up again, I think this will be even more clear.

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    I feel like in the end Donnie Walsh, while intellectually knowing that, started reaching for talented but troubled players, and forgot the importance of having a team filled with great teammates
    Actually, did you see Walsh's introduction to the Knicks? He even mentioned that he "fell in love with talent" (his words) while referring to it as a major mistake on his part during his time here. So I think he sees the same mistake you do.

    And watching this team over the last few games, I've been feeling the exact same way. I was just telling my roommate about an hour ago that I for some reason was starting to feel much better about the team. I'm just impressed that they seem to truly care about making the 8th seed. A lot of teams just give up, or don't care knowing that the 8th seed generally won't win much of anything. I think alot of that is the head coach's influence. I hope he stays here a while, I really have grown to like him and what he seems to stand for.

    -- Steve --
    Last edited by Pacersfan46; 04-14-2008 at 12:53 AM.

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    Denim Chicken duke dynamite's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    I made a wallpaper. It's just like the old promos from back when. I couldn't find an image anywhere on the internet so I made it myself from scraps. PM me if you want it in high resolution.


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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    That is pretty nice, Dukey. The blue really "pops", as they say. Nice work. the yellow and blue contrast is just awesome.
    "Sometimes, when you look Andy in the eyes, you get a feeling somebody else is driving." -- David Letterman

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Thanks, kauffy.

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    I agree on most aspects of the post. Particularly the feeling that our play during the last 15 games or so has us heading in a much more positive direction going into the offseason. There is a hope! This is nice for a change and you convey the enthusiasm it brings.

    On the other hand, I think we have to see what Larry Bird and Co. actually do before we go crowning him the solution to our personnel problems. I also applaud everyone's effort during this run, but some guys still need to go and JO'B is not our long-term answer at coach IMO.

    If you actually consider sending it to the Star, maybe a different metaphor from a ship and the harbor. Your posts always make for a good read.
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    NaptownSeth is all feel Naptown_Seth's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaufman View Post
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    Jim O'Brien is the modern day version of Bob Hill.
    FTW

    I felt this way the day he was hired too. I suspect this is why they perhaps couldn't work something out with SVG. Why bring a Porsche to a demolition derby?

    Of course once in the game JOB has the puncher's chance to make it all work and spin it into a 2nd deal worth a lot more money and respect.

    think he will someday be known as the man who began to slowly change the accountability and "laissez faire" attitude that permeated through our lockerroom
    Was this before or after the Phoenix game?
    Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 04-14-2008 at 12:19 PM.

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    NaptownSeth is all feel Naptown_Seth's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    BTW, I was highly critical of their chances this year and yet I also attended a lot more games than most people and certainly posted plenty of positive comments during the season, including a thread for Troy when he got hot.

    So with that in mind let me say that in spite of my pending "they won't be much better" view (barring major changes), I do agree that the local press has totally missed the boat with this team.

    I think they have big problems, but I still got that rush of excitement watching the loss the other night. Isn't the point to at least enjoy the moments when Diener hits a miracle 3 to get it to 1 or Danny going lane for the dunk? This is the kind of stuff that built up during the afforementioned Bob Hill years. There were moments, players, games to be remembered and enjoyed. It made you crave more. This is how you end up having a big celebration for a team that loses in the ECF.

    That's not the same as celebrating each negative until it turns your stomach. This is how you end up bashing a team for losing in the ECF.

    You look back at the last 3-4 months especially and wonder how could it be that the fanbase has been forced to wallow in the misery far more than enjoying the high points? The press itself not only lost interest, but they gained interest in tabloid angles.


    Don't tell me it's not in their control when I have to watch out of town MotoGP coverage on 6 News...just by chance of course and in no way related to ABC's relation with George and the 500. If you want to make interest it can be done. If you want to disgust fans that can also be done.

    For all the bashing Bruno takes it's not hard to see the need for him. In fact he makes a lot more sense to have around than Bob K.
    Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 04-14-2008 at 12:20 PM.

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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    Quote Originally Posted by Ownagedood View Post
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    TOOO LOOONG.. Lol, I will read the rest later.. I read about half of it and no offense to you, im just bored with it atm.

    The first half was good though.
    I sincerely hope that this is a joke.

    Tbird,

    Thanks. That was a great post. I've been feeling better about the team over the last month, but haven't been able to quite know why. It's felt a little bit like the little black rain clouds have finally stopped following us around so closely. The team is playing hard. There are more likeable players on the roster than at anytime since Bird was coaching. We're winning games against more talented teams on a moderately consistent basis. We're also learning that we don't need to rely on our "building block" players (O'Neal, Tinsley) to be competitive.

    It will probably take 2 or 3 years for us to be anything more than 1st round of the playoffs competitive, but I believe we've got the kind of team and style that will start to win back the fans that we've lost. I also agree with you about Bird. He seems to be a pretty decent judge of talent, and I really think that he and O'Brien are on the same page philosophically. Hopefully we'll continue to build a "team" instead of a collection of talent.

    Thanks again for the post. I agree nearly whole-heartedly, and, despite having a degree in writing, I couldn't have said it better myself.
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    Boom Baby'er ABADays's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shining lights in the harbor are looking brighter, and a return of Pacer Pride

    CHARACTER DOES MATTER

    As always t-bird, a great post! How you aren't working for the Pacers is beyond me.
    The best exercise of the human heart is reaching down and picking someone else up.

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