The Indiana Pacers have never been sexy. Not in the NBA at least.
Chuck Person chucking up threes. Reggie’s gangly, but deadly, stroke. Detlef Schrempf. Detlef Schrempf’s shorts.
Mark Jackson free throws. Davis Bros. brawling. Chris Mullin D. Bald Rik Smits.
Austin Croshere contracts. Jonathan Bender knee cartilage. Jermaine O’Neal haymakers. Jamaal Tinsley’s immune system.
Ron Artest meltdowns. Stephen Jackson’s Yosemite Sam impersonation. The Shawne Williams project. Jeff Foster Jeff Fostering.
Suicidal Marquis Daniels tattoos. The Dunleavy-Hansbrough-Murphy Donald Sterling wet dream. Danny Granger knee cartilage.
The Pacers have always been kinda ugly. Sometimes on the court, sometimes off the court. Most of the time, however, they’ve been effective. The Pacers have even made the playoffs 20 times in the past 25 years.
They’ve out-hustled and out-muscled opponents. They’ve boasted blue-collar, tight-knit teams greater than the sum of their parts. Even the front office was gritty, often turning a small-market franchise into a big-time team.
This season, the Pacers seemed to have finally found their ugliest, greatest team yet. Five starters born to play with one another, like a basketball version of Voltron. One of the five Voltron dudes was even named Lance. Check out his bio, from Wikipedia:
Lance is always cracking jokes and teasing others whenever he gets the chance. He is the only one in the group who contests any of Keith’s commands. He is a ladies’ man and a great pilot, though reckless at times.
So, yeah, totally the basketball Voltron and all that. November domination. December dynasty-in-the-making. Even January was pretty damn good.
Lance was prancing. Paul George looked like a Pippen-T-Mac fusion. David West was picking his spots, unconcerned with stats. George Hill was convincing people the Kawhi Leonard trade was a wash. Last but not least, Roy Hibbert was a 7-foot-2 force field inside the restricted area. Verticality with a vengeance.
Then something so fantastically, beautifully ugly just turned plain ol’ ugly. As in gross. The free-fall has lasted nearly three months. For Pacer fans like myself, it’s felt like an eternity. We were the talk of the league — how did we get here?
Imagine a 600-pound woman (or man for you female fans… Pacer futility does not discriminate) delivering a never-ending striptease. And like Luis Buñuel”s The Exterminating Angel, the guests of honor — Pacer fans — are not allowed to leave. (Not to be confused with Luis Scola, who during last Saturday’s Game 7 wasn’t allowed to leave the bench.)