Granger: Forget Points, I Want To Win
By Mike Wells
Posted: March 27, 2009
Danny Granger's frustration was put into perspective nine days ago.
Granger had just tallied his 17th 30-point game, but the Indiana Pacers had lost. Again. Rather than stick around to talk about his performance, Granger exited the locker room quickly.
"It's not about what I did," he said several days later. "I didn't want to say anything that would get me in trouble. I could (not) care less about scoring the points. It makes me more mad if I score a lot and we lose. It's been a tough year for us."
Granger's career-best season has been one of the few bright spots on a team that will have a losing record and likely miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
He is sixth in the league in scoring at 24.8 points per game. He made his first All-Star appearance. And he'll likely be in the running for the league's Most Improved Player award after increasing his scoring five-plus points for the third consecutive season.
So what, he said.
Individual accomplishments don't matter when the team is faltering.
"Making the All-Star team was one of my goals when the season started," Granger said. "But I don't want to hear about being an All-Star anymore. It's done now. It's about the success of the team. No one looks at if you were an All-Star. They look at how successful you've been as a team. We haven't been successful."
Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said Granger has told teammates scoring isn't the most important objective.
"You can definitely tell he's matured," O'Brien said. "He wants to be in the playoffs. He's all about winning. It's not a matter of playing for a contract because he's already got his contract."
The Pacers haven't made the playoffs since Granger's rookie season in 2005-06. They're a combined 101-135 since the 2006-07 season.
"I came to a franchise that made the playoffs on a regular basis, then this trade happened, that trade happened," Granger said. "The next thing you know, we're at the bottom of the league.
"We've had different players come in and different players leave each year. I think when we get that base of players we know (will) be here, then we can make some strides."
The Pacers are in the first year of their rebuilding plan.
They were expected to struggle after adding seven new players. Mike Dunleavy's knee injury added to the problems. Dunleavy played just 18 games before having season-ending surgery.
Dunleavy's absence put pressure on Granger to score and be even more of a leader.
"Danny doesn't say a lot, which isn't necessary to be a leader; he's led by example this season," president Larry Bird said. "He's one of those guys that takes the game serious. He does things before, during and after practice that are supposed to be done to improve. The other players see that."
Call Star reporter Mike Wells at (317) 444-6053.