Taking a step off the Pacers bandwagonPublished 11:04am Friday, May 30, 2014
You had me, Indiana. Really, you did. I was convinced that you would be the team to finally topple the budding dynasty in South Beach.
While I have no issue with any player in a Miami Heat uniform – outside of Mario Chalmers; he rubs me the wrong way – I am currently in the midst of what some may call “Heat fatigue.”
Living in an area where Alabama football typically dominates the landscape, I am sure that the Auburn fans of the world (or fans of any other team besides Bama, for that matter) grew tired of Saban’s bunch way-laying all comers, claiming crystal balls left and right, and generally putting the truth back in the claim of Alabama football being the end all, be all of college gridiron royalty. So, you know what I mean about fatigue of a team’s success.
But the Pacers had me convinced. They took Miami to seven games last year and after being bounced, took all the offseason to crow and boast about how things would be different if they had home-court advantage the next time the teams met. As if Miami still retaining the best player in the world would somehow be negated by that. Oh, how fooled I was.
Yet, I bought in. I started being a Pacers “stan.” That’s an inside joke, by the way.
But now that the moment of truth is here, I have realized that I pulled the wool over my own eyes. Watching this increasingly frustrating bunch of players stumble through round after round and inferior opponent after inferior opponent, I still didn’t see it. Then they ran into the defending champions, and it all clicked. I realized that the Pacers’ best player still has a long way to go, and stands to be – and this is a best-case scenario – the best No. 2 option in the NBA one day. I realized that the Pacers’ No. 1 matchup advantage is an average player who sometimes makes me think that the only reason he plays the game of basketball today is because he was chosen for a pickup game solely due to his height when he was younger. And I’m not even going to get into Lance Stephenson. Talented, yes, but he might very well be a bit of a head case.
As of this writing, the series isn’t over, officially. There’s still at least one more game to be played before the Heat, presumably, put the Pacers out of their misery and render Indiana’s 2014 season a hodgepodge of disappointment and exposure.
Maybe one day, it will all come together for the Pacers. Perhaps they are truly a future NBA champion waiting for their moment of glory to come. Or maybe they are no more than the Sacramentno Kings of the early 2000s: a good team that’s interesting to watch, even though you know in the back of your mind that they’ll never be good enough when it matters most. Ah well.
Maybe one day, I’ll hitch back on to the Pacers bandwagon and root them on in their quest to become the hero that eventually dethrones the villainous Heat.
But for now, I think tonight is when we bid adieu to the real bad guys in this movie known as the Eastern Conference Finals.
Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook.