Who’ll Win Indy’s Next Title?
Monday, Aug. 9, 2004
Q. Hey Bruno! I know this kind of gets off the subject, but who do you think will win a title first: the Colts or the Pacers? I know you might be biased, as am I, because as much as I love the Colts, I've been an adamant Pacer since I began watching sports in general. I would love to see Reggie and Donnie (Walsh) get a championship after all they've been through with the team. Also, this city has been waiting for so long to celebrate, and watched with both disappointment and hope as both the Colts and the Pacers made it to their respective conference championships, only to lose to, arguably, the best two teams in the sports world. So, who do you think will have that parade down Meridian Street first? (From Adam in Tallahassee, FL)
A. Hey Adam! Since I am four years removed from my days assisting the venerable Mike Chappell and the remarkable Phil Richards in covering the Colts and the NFL for The Indianapolis Star, I can no longer qualify as any kind of an expert on this particular topic (and, as much as I respect Bill Polian, he’d probably tell you I never did qualify, and he’d be right). But, since you asked, I honestly believe the Pacers will bring the next championship to Indianapolis. Keep in mind, they’ve already won three titles but, since the ABA trophies came long before the Colts arrived in town (just in time for the dawn of the Vern Fleming era), a new generation of fans has come along in the time since.
Since losing to the Pistons in the conference finals, the Pacers have addressed their primary flaws – perimeter shooting, roster balance and depth at point guard. The Stephen Jackson-Al Harrington trade was aimed at the first two issues, while the re-signing of Anthony Johnson and the acquisition of Eddie Gill targeted the third. They could still use another big body, but they’re no worse off in that department than the end of the season and, with the selection of David Harrison in the draft, might be a little better. Though the competition in the East has gotten stiffer with Detroit’s continued development and the presence of Shaquille O’Neal in Miami, the door to the NBA title is wide open because there is no dominant team on the horizon.
As good as the Colts offense is, the Pacers appear to be the more complete team and their core players are all under contract for at least two more seasons. Frankly, both teams are fully capable of winning championships sooner rather than later. I just believe the Pacers are a little closer to the top.