Other communities would have taken less time to recognize the quality of the Pacers NBA product. Just like IU fans aren't waiting for Crean to win 3 big 10 titles or make a Final 4 to sell the joint out. This coming off of just as many miserable and scandal filled seasons.
Here's my problem with all the Hoosier chest thumping as basketball fans.
If you visit other cities, other arenas or even live in other places you quickly realize Indiana is NOT some great unique leader. There is an image cultivated on years of IU greatness and a love of HS basketball and the greatest sports movie ever made. But if you think you are going to sit down in Oracle and have fans with less knowledge or passion for the sport, you're wrong.
I went to several games in The Hive and despite UNC, Duke and a general hotbed of non NBA basketball, they loved their NBA team too. The team that never made a Finals. They turned on Shinn, not the team.
There's this idea that when you touch down in Indy it's noticeably different than it is when you touch down in San Antonio or LA or Sacto or DC. It isn't. NYC isn't just a bigger city, it's not as simple as that. They have a massive passion for basketball that's on par with Indiana. Or better put they have communities the size of Indy that have as much or more passion for the sport. Maybe in Manhattan it's not that way, but in Queens or the Bronx perhaps or some other sub-section that is basically it's own city/region? NYC is big because it's 8 cities smashed together, but at least one of those cities loves ball just as much as we do.
The freaking Carrier Dome just hosted the largest on-campus crowd in NCAA history, so I think upstate NY even enjoys ball just a tiny bit.
You can't judge yourself without taking a good look at others to really know where you stand.
And this is an IU city/state, period. What's funny about that is that Bob Knight NEVER did anything to embarrass the school or fanbase, never choked a kid, never used poo to make a point, and never got bounced out of the tourney early or failed to meet expectations. IU never had any non-basketball issues, never had a tampering scandal, never had periods of less than stellar play...you know, all the things that people cite as reasons to not watch the Pacers. But the Pacers are only on their 3rd season of good basketball, it takes time....way more time than IU has been back, but ignore that because it doesn't count and Bob Knight yay!
Local fans have an IMAGE of what IU ball is (or Butler since they started winning) and they are in love with that image. Because of that love they ignore all the warts. And because they don't love the Pacers they point to the same warts and complain and justify. I think the image was built mostly on 2 decades of elite level winning with Knight, not just good but one of the top 5 programs in the country. UNC, Duke, KY and Kansas level of good. So sure, if the Pacers go on a Bulls decade with 6 titles, fans will be made and stick. But that doesn't make the community more savvy.
You have to earn the right to claim this basketball passion. If you are going to HS games every Friday night then you are building a rep of HS passion, but not "all things basketball" passion. If you aren't interested in watching THIS team by this point then you do not have a passion for the sport or very high awareness. National basketball fans, the passionate journalists who cover the game or former players who love the game are all excited about seeing the Pacers play. So if you aren't then it clearly implies that you have less passion or less savvy then those die-hard non-Indy citizens.
How are Cowherd or Rusillo or Barkley more interested in the Pacers than some "basketball lover" in Brownsburg or Greencastle? Local "basketball fans" are getting their butts kicked by national basketball fans for space on their own local team's bandwagon. It makes me ashamed, but it makes those not on the wagon just more DEFIANT. Now people want to not like the Pacers just to prove some point, some "don't tell me what to like" point. If that's more important to you than seeing great basketball at the best price in town (sorry, did you donate 50000 to IU for a good seat? Didn't think so) then you are NOT a basketball fan.
For the younger fans let me tell you, we had low attendance back in the 90's also. But you know what the difference between now and then is? Back then the small group of die-hards had a chip on their shoulder because the NATIONAL media wouldn't recognize our team. By the time the national people came around, even the casual local fans had gotten on-board and were annoyed by the lack of national coverage too.
Now we have just the opposite, you have tons of national love and a bunch of locals telling them to mind their own business.