Well I'm sure this thread is going to stir up some opinions! This has been on my mind for awhile, and I'm wondering if anyone else out there feels the same way. Perhaps I should've waited until I'm more known around here to post an opinion piece, oh well, dish out the heat if you want I won't take it personal!
Fans Bear Responsibility for Pacers Current Problems
With the draft deadline looming and the Pacers looking like they will stand pat, this seems like a good time to point out something that really needs to be said. And it’s not going to make anyone happy. No doubt, the team has a responsibility to our community. When the team knowingly hires players and personnel that the fans will be ashamed of, and continues to employ these miscreants for the sake of winning, then we very well should speak with our wallets, as fans have done for the past five years.
But here’s what most of us have overlooked: the fans have a responsibility as well. When Manning and the rest of the current Colts have moved on, and the team once again endures a couple of tough years while they make an honest and dedicated effort to rebuild, we as fans have a responsibility to honor the wonderful years the team gave us, and the great things they did for our community, and stick with them as true, die-hard fans.
We honor a team by staying true through the bad times, because we understand that the owners are trying with good faith to rebuild a team that we can one day be proud of. And I say that the fans of this city have done wrong by the Pacers in the last two years. It is their attitudes and demands that have put the team in a position that will make it very difficult for them to build a contending team until 2010 or later.
The pacers management has been faithfully working to clean house for the past two years. The only piece left from the dark days is a player who has effectively been banished from the team, and is with the Pacers now only as a financial albatross The Pacers bought this lead weight when they inked a contract with a guy who was a behavioral risk. But we, the fans, secured that weight with a 14 million dollar padlock by essentially demanding that Tinsley disappear from the team before the fans would return. Now, a year after his final game to date, he has sat at home in contract-limbo, unable to be cut loose from his contract and becoming with time less and less of an asset that might be traded. Today he is virtually incapable of being traded, and the chunk of salary cap room he takes up means we are unable to construct a contending team until after 2011.
My feeling is that if efforts to trade Jamaal were allowed to play out, and the man was not banished from the team in order to placate the fans, then he would still have decent trade value. But that wasn't an option and now the decision to send him into exile is costing the team millions in payroll.
Conversations I have with the average person regarding the Pacers, these days, brings the same responses I heard two, three, four years ago. They’re thugs. I won’t let my kids watch them. Until the team gets rid of all the bad apples, I don’t care about them. And more recently: The team is a joke. They’re no good. Bird should be fired for putting together this lousy team. Guess what? The bad apples are gone. All gone. We have a team we should be proud of, players with great heart, and the will to win. Meanwhile attendance has only marginally improved from where it was two years ago, and by and large the negative attitudes persist. We’ve spoken with our attendance, effectively condemned a good and honest effort by the Pacers, and therefore forced the team to spend the next two years in salary-cap purgatory. So when I hear people on the street badmouth the Pacers now for being uncompetitive, I’m sorely tempted to remind them that their failures, hand in hand with the Hoosier values we expect them to possess, are a reflection on us fans as well.