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Jermaine O'Neal has a tattoo of Jesus Christ on his left arm. -- John Severson / The Star
November 4, 2004 Keeping pace with the Pacers
Think you know the Pacers? Think again. We expose the players -- and their habits -- like you've never seen them before.
By Darnell Morris-Compton email@example.com
You've seen the displays and heard the commercials.
After advancing to the second round of the playoffs last year, the Indiana Pacers hope to go farther this year, and their ad campaign of "One goal" proves their desire. What's on players' minds this year is winning it all.
Indiana's veteran baller Reggie Miller has hinted at retirement, so he (and his teammates) seem extra-hungry for the championship.
While they're out to prove to the rest of the league that they are the best, INtake decided to find out which Pacers have the most. Who's the most articulate? Who's the humanitarian? Who's the messiest in the locker room?
We interviewed fans, sports media and the players to discover Pacers superlatives in Indy. These stats go beyond assists and steals -- these are completely subjective, informal and unscientific.
But, oh, are they revealing.
• Rick Carlisle, Pacers head coach: "I don't pay attention," he said, but after some thought, he changed his mind. "Probably Reggie Miller. His stomach and back."
• Austin Croshere, forward for the Pacers: "Reggie's looks like it's the most painful."
• Stacy Paetz, TV host and sideline reporter for the Pacers: "Jermaine O'Neal," she said. "He has Jesus on his arm."
• Terry Judy, 37, Hendricks County detective, and Pacers fan for about 15 years: "Jermaine O'Neal. The one with the gorilla above his elbow."
• Brent Higgins, 29, account executive and Pacers fan since the Chuck "Rifleman" Person days in Market Square Arena: "Whoo boy," Higgins said. "I would have to go with (Jamaal) Tinsley. I just like his stutter step drive that he has before he ends up taking it in. His interesting lay-ups over the big men."
• Chris Hagan, Fox 59 sports anchor, who has covered the Pacers for six seasons: "I would say Fred Jones. He can take it to the rack quickly, and he can finish strong."
• Wil Hampton, weekend news anchor/sports anchor for WRTV (Channel 6), who has covered the Pacers since '95: "I like Freddie Jones, last year's slam dunk champion. He can move along the baseline pretty well. His ability to move without the ball is what I like."
• Sekou Smith, Indianapolis Star reporter covering the Pacers: "Jermaine O'Neal's drop-step from the left baseline for a dunk is an eye-popping move for a 6-11 guy who happens to be right-handed."
Best pre-game ritual
• Scot Pollard, center: "Reggie Miller. He has a team of people massaging his feet every day."
• Rick Carlisle: "Reggie. He's meticulous. He has the most mental and physical preparation."
• Jeff Foster, Center/forward for the Pacers: "Reggie Miller. He's done the same thing ever since I've been here. He's done the same thing every year. I try to emulate that."
• Dave Calabro, WTHR (Channel 13) sports director, who has covered the Pacers for 13 years: Reggie. "He goes through a whole series of things. He has the strangest ritual I've seen of any athlete. He has a verbal showdown with David Benner (Pacers spokesman) before every game, to verbally get him motivated for the game. They have a verbal argument to get Reggie fired up. Benner always has some weird quirky thing about him. David Benner trash talks Reggie. It's pretty funny."
• Courtney Webster, 28, sales rep for a local mortgage company. She's been a fan of the Pacers for at least 10 years: "Ron Artest had a pretty good hairdo when he let it grow. He had an afro."
• Stacy Paetz: "Stephen Jackson, and he tells me he's going to change it up often."
• Dave Calabro: Scot Pollard. You don't know if he's going to have hair, or what style. Not quite as outrageous as Dennis Rodman, but he's close."
• Anthony Calhoun, sports anchor for WISH-TV (Channel 8): "I like Jermaine (O'Neal). He's got it braided. You can't go wrong with that."
Most memorable moment on the court
• Bobby 'Slick' Leonard, radio color analyst: "The night that you win the championships. That's what it's all about, isn't it? To me, it would be the sixth game in Los Angeles (Stars during the 1969-70 American Basketball Association season). The sixth game in New York (Nets in the 1971-72 ABA season) and the seventh game in Freedom Hall in Kentucky (Colonels during the 1972-73 ABA season). Those were all memorable nights for me."
• Brent Higgins: "I would say Reggie Miller's comeback against the New York Knicks in the playoffs (1999-2000 season, Eastern Conference Finals). Within the last 30 seconds of the ball game, Miller took the lead with three possessions."
• Courtney Webster: "I went to the first game of the playoffs last year with the (Boston) Celtics. That was the coolest thing because I had never been to a playoff game before."
• Chris Hagan: "I would say when Travis Best hit the game-winning three-pointer against the (Milwaukee Bucks) in round one in the 2000 playoffs. They trailed. When he made that, I knew it was going to be a long special run for them."
• Stephen Jackson, guard/forward for the Pacers: "David Harrison. I've seen him eat about 4 or 5 meals in 10 minutes."
• David Harrison, rookie center out of Nashville, Tenn.: "Talking about doughnuts, it's A.J. He eats about a box a day."
• Reggie Miller, the Indiana Pacers veteran shooting guard: "Jeff Foster. No question about it."
• Jamaal Tinsley, guard: "Fred Jones. He eats for everybody."
• Scot Pollard: "Reggie Miller. He's the only one on this team with manners. When you have been around this league for 30 to 40 years, it comes."
• Quinn Buckner, Pacers vice president of communications: "James Jones. He just seems to be always saying please and thank you."
• Austin Croshere: "James Jones. He was a rookie last year. Overall, he's a really nice guy."
• Kevin Lee, host, Indiana Pacers radio network, and WIBC-AM (1070) Sportstalk for the past 10 years: "Ron Artest. He's very proper, always saying 'yes sir, no sir.' "
• Courtney Webster: "I'd probably have to go with Jermaine. I don't know. He's pretty cute. A smile helps out a lot."
• Stacy Paetz: "Stephen Jackson, because he has diamonds on the bottom row."
Most unusual shot
• Brent Higgins: "Jonathan Bender. It looks slightly awkward, yet not really smooth as you would see from the premiere shooters. It's kind of a hesitation. It's just an awkward looking shot. It's not how your Bobby Knight coaches would want shots to be taken."
• Chris Colvin, 37, advertising sales, Pacers fan since birth: "I'd say Ron Artest. I don't know if that's unusual. It seems like he's got a real deliberate delivery. It's not real quick. It's just deliberate."
• Chris Hagan: "Believe it or not, I would say Austin Croshere. He kind of throws it across his body like a shot put. He's been known to make three-pointers with it. If it works, then I guess you stick with it."
• Terry Judy: "I'd say Reggie. It's not a two-hand shot, but to me, he uses a lot of his left hand more than the ordinary person would."
Feet down, the hugest foot is Scot Pollard's at a whopping size 19. Center rookie John Edwards is next in line with a size 18. Eddie Gill and Anthony Johnson have the smallest shoe size, at 12.
• Kevin Lee: "Tinsley. He just kind of mumbles."
• David Harrison: "Jonathan Bender. He doesn't say much, but everything he says is insightful. That's a quality some don't have."
• James Jones, forward for the Pacers: "Ron Artest. Ron really doesn't say very much."
• Tinsley: "J.J. He sticks to himself. He makes a couple of comments."
• Scot Pollard: "Stephen Jackson. He's got potential to take my title. With my help, he could be the best."
• Rick Carlisle: "Probably Anthony Johnson. He laughs a lot. He's always smiling."
• Quinn Buckner: "Jamaal Tinsley. He's the biggest prankster on the team," Buckner said, refusing to divulge the latest hijinks with a laugh and a smile.
• Austin Croshere: "Reggie's sly funny. He can make fun of things that no one can make fun of. He's funny with the rookies, too."
• Dave Calabro: "That's a tough one. I think Reggie's funny, but Pollard is always cutting up. He's acting like he's in seventh grade. He just clowns."
Messiest in the locker room
• Scot Pollard: "David Harrison, the rookie. He's got a little to learn. He's got a smell, too. He's got a ways to go. Especially keeping his personal space clean," Pollard said while motioning his arms up and down his chest after practice.
• Austin Croshere: "Harrison. He's a big guy. He thinks he needs three lockers for all his quadruple-X stuff."
• Jermaine O'Neal, forward for the Pacers: "David Harrison. He has no organization in his locker. He puts clean clothes with dirty ones. It doesn't matter."
• Stacy Paetz: "Ron has 50 pairs of shoes around his locker. It's hard to move around."
• Ron Artest, forward: "Probably me. My stuff is all over the place. I try to clean it up, though."
Most likely to run for mayor
• Scot Pollard: "Anthony Johnson. He's the locker room lawyer. He's always trying to sway guys to his opinion."
• Rick Carlisle: "That's a tough one. It'd probably be Pollard. He has excellent people skills and I'm sure he would cut taxes."
• Jermaine O'Neal: "Austin. He seems like a political guy. He's our player rep. He's always talking about logic and what's right and wrong."
• Chris Colvin: "Reggie Miller. His personality. He's very polished. He's politically correct. He's smooth in interviews, and he seems to love the limelight."
• Ron Artest: "Stephen Jackson. Ever since he came here, he's easy to get along with, the team listens to him. He's like a leader."
• Stacy Paetz: "Anthony Johnson. He's very laid back. He's always smiling and I think he's someone that, if his teammates are down, he'd help them. He'd invest his time with them."
• Dave Calabro: "That's a tough one. Maybe Austin. I just think he's a student of the game. He appears to know tendencies of other teams and players and uses that to his advantage."
MVP -- Most Valuable Pacer
• Terry Judy: "Jermaine O'Neal. I would think because of his inside play and he's stepping up as the leader of the team. He's a younger player and one of the bigger superstars in the NBA. I think a lot of the players look up to him and respect him."
• Chris Colvin: "Jermaine O'Neal. He is the franchise player. The newest 'Reggie Miller.' He is our money player and, go-to guy. He's the guy I (would) put the ball in the hands of when the game is on the line, our opponent either has to foul or he scores."
• Anthony Calhoun: "I would say Jermaine O'Neal."
• Courtney Webster: "The most valuable Pacer is probably Jermaine O'Neal. I think that he is just an all around great player. He has a great inside dominance, as well as good outside shot."
• Stephen Jackson: "Desmond Farmer. He'll put it on display."
• David Harrison: "I'm definitely the best dancer."
• Reggie Miller: "A.J. (Anthony Johnson), he's the only person that has no rhythm but thinks he does."
• James Jones: "That's a tough one. Not too many guys on this team have any rhythm."
• Jamaal Tinsley: "Myself. Sometimes, when I feel like having fun. Scot Pollard. He does things that you least expect a big guy to do. I can't get into it."
• Scot Pollard: "Jermaine. He's got a lot of money and he spends a lot on clothes and it shows. He's got taste, too. A lot of guys spend money on clothes and it doesn't show."
• Quinn Buckner: "I've got to go with Reggie. Jermaine won't like that."
• Stephen Jackson: "Me. I'm just fly. I coordinate. Other people might say Jermaine. Jermaine spends the most time in the mirror."
• Dave Calabro: "I would say that Jermaine definitely has the nicest jewelry. He knows how to accessorize the best. And Reggie's a pretty good primper, too. He won't do any interviews until he's showered, properly coifed and ready to go, and Michael Jordan was the same way."
• Ron Artest: "Fred Jones, because he just does things the right way all the time. He don't drink. He doesn't intoxicate his body."
• Stacy Paetz: "Ron Artest. I did an interview with him last season and I asked him to prioritize his life. He said: 'God, family, then basketball.' "
• David Harrison: "Jack (Stephen Jackson). He prays before the game as a team."
• James Jones: "Myself. I keep my Bible in my car. Not very many people do that."
• Ron Artest: "Probably Reggie. He's been around for a long time. He's helped a lot of people, doing good things."
• Stacy Paetz: "A few of them do a lot of good things. Reggie and Jermaine. They put their money and time to issues that matter."
• Dave Calabro: "Jermaine. He's pretty good about doing things without there being something in it for him. Reggie's the same way. Reggie does a lot of private things where he'll pop into elementary schools without anybody knowing it. Both of those guys are the best."
• James Jones: "Reggie. He's been here for so long and giving since day one. He has a proven track record of giving back."
• Scot Pollard: "Stephen Jackson or myself. It seems we both like to march to the beat of a different drummer. I know I do."
• Quinn Buckner: "Without a doubt, Scot Pollard. He had black fingernails in the league."
• Kevin Lee: "Scot Pollard. I've seen him with painted fingernails before."
• Dave Calabro: "Pollard. You name it, he'll do it."
• Scot Pollard: "Smelly, Jamaal Tinsley."
• Austin Croshere: "Smelly. I've got some good ones in my head."
• David Harrison: "Son of Poison. That's Scot Pollard."
• James Jones: "Tru Warier. Ron Artest."Anthony Calhoun: "J.O."
Most like Larry Bird
• Bobby "Slick" Leonard: "This would be a guy that really works at it. Comes every night and give it everything he's got. Probably Anthony Johnson."
• Stacy Paetz: "Austin Croshere. Austin is very blue-collar, as Larry was in his days of playing. Not flashy, just does his job. I know Larry thinks a lot of Austin, really believes in his abilities."
• Kevin Lee: "People are going to say Austin Croshere because he is the same height and he's white, but that's where the similarities end. Not a knock against Austin, but nobody is like Larry Bird."
• Quinn Buckner: "I can't give you that. He's too unique."
Most likely to appear on 'Fear Factor'
• Stacy Paetz: "Scot Pollard. I shouldn't have had to think about it that long. I think he'd gross the other competitors out and he'd definitely talk a lot of trash."
• Dave Calabro: "Pollard. He's a 'sure, why not,' kind of guy. Eating animal parts, no problem."
• Reggie Miller: "Ron Artest. He ain't afraid of nothin'."
• Jamaal Tinsley: "Ron Artest. He's willing to try anything."
Summer home furthest away
• Scot Pollard: "I have a condo in Thailand. My wife's mom is from Bangkok."
• Austin Croshere: "Me and Reggie. We both are in California. Maybe Reggie is a mile farther."
• James Jones: "Me. I have a summer home in Barbados. That's where my wife's from."
Most likely to work for the Pacers
• Scott Pollard: "Reggie and Anthony Johnson. Reggie's getting close (to retirement) and A.J., he's on the fence," he said, smiling, saying at times he's a coach.
• Rick Carlisle: "Well, Reggie would appear to be. He could have any job he wants," Carlisle said.
• Wil Hampton: "Reggie when he retires. Reggie will go back to L.A. and he will be an actor. He won't be here. Maybe Austin Croshere. He and Bird always had a nice connection. He's got that nice place out in Malibu. He'd have to trade his Santa Monica home."
• Kevin Lee: "I'm sure Reggie will work for the Pacers if he wants to work for the Pacers. Most of these guys are making huge salaries, they may not need to work when they are done. I don't know if he wants to."
Most accessible player
• Bobby "Slick" Leonard: "Austin Croshere. He's just that kind of guy. He'll take time and talk to people. I would think Austin is pretty accessible."
• Wil Hampton: "All of them are real good. Jermaine O'Neal is awful good at that. He and Ron Artest are always good at that. You don't see those guys run and hide from the media."
• Mark Montieth, Indianapolis Star reporter: "Most of them are accessible. Jermaine O'Neal won an award from the Professional Basketball Writers Association last season for being cooperative, though."
• Chris Hagan: "I would say Jeff Foster. For somebody who's a starter and a big contributor, he's remarkably easy to get a one-on-one with."
• Ron Artest: "I got the Jeep Wrangler."
• Stephen Jackson: "Jermaine O'Neal. That Rolls Royce Phantom."
• Stacy Paetz: "Jermaine O'Neal. The Phantom is bad. The Bentley, too. Dressed up, dressed down, he has a car for it. A car for every day of the week."
The coolest player under playoff pressure
• Brent Higgins: "Hands down, through all the years, that would be Reggie. He seems to not let the surroundings -- whether their hostile or at home -- to not let it control his game, even when everything is on the line."
• Mark Montieth: "Has to be Reggie Miller, one of the NBA's all-time clutch shooters."
• Sekou Smith: "Uh, Reggie Miller. Let me count the ways . . ."
• David Benner, Pacers spokesman: "Reggie Miller. Is there anybody else?"
The most articulate player
• Bobby "Slick" Leonard: "I think Jermaine does a good job. I think Jermaine is pretty eloquent."
• Wil Hampton: "Scot Pollard. In my line of work, he's fun to talk to because you just don't know what he's going to say. You just let him talk. You don't even ask him any more questions. Just let the cameras roll."
• Sekou Smith: "Though he's been a Pacer for just a few months, Stephen Jackson is already the go-to-guy when it comes to colorful quotes."
The player who would make the best TV analyst
• Brent Higgins: "Ron Artest. I somewhat look at him as a Charles Barkley of today. He will shoot 'em straight. He will speak his mind. I think he knows the game well enough to provide insight."
• Wil Hampton: "Reggie Miller, just cause he's got that glitz and glamour going for him. I think that's where he's heading when he's done, so he can be just like his sister. He wants to grow up and be like Cheryl (Miller). She does a great job on TV."
• David Benner: "Scot Pollard. He is funny, and knows the game and has got a great personality."
Man, some of that is great. I love the way they're cutting on each other... the camraderie shows.
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Speaking of team basketball (or, I cound't find a better topic to put this in), I liked JO's quote in the AP recap from tonight's game:
"Right now I don't deserve to be a starter because I haven't been there," said O'Neal, who played in just one preseason game and was limited to 24 minutes on Friday. "I've got to work my way back in the lineup. I truthfully believe I don't deserve to start yet."