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November 18, 2013

Pacers black sheep no more

When I woke up Saturday morning, I gave a customary online scan of Friday’s sports, mainly for a recap of the Pacers’ home game against Milwaukee.

While their 27-point win and Roy Hibbert’s near triple-double were impressive enough, it was this quote from the Pacers center that really struck me:

“Some guys on this team before were just trying to get a paycheck and go home, and then chilling on the beach and sipping mojitos or something like that. That’s not us.”

With those 32 words, Hibbert provided the catharsis I needed to finally get back on board with the organization — and perhaps the NBA as a whole — for the first time in nearly a decade.

I lived and died with the Pacers during the Reggie Miller era, from pounding on upper walls of Market Square Arena during that magical playoff run of 1994, through the crushing end against Detroit 11 years later following the Malice at the Palace. Because of the unparalleled entertainment value No. 31 provided, I knew my interest would lessen when he walked away, but the many halfwits that populated the locker room in the subsequent years reduced my attentiveness to nothing.

I moved away from this area in 2008, and returned in August, so I missed the Pacers’ resurgence the last few years. With the start of this season, I wondered how into the team locals really were, and had that answered this week.

First, I went to last Monday’s game against Memphis, which the Pacers won handily for their eighth straight win. It was a good, enthusiastic turnout, especially in the hilariously wound-up Area 55 and G2 Zone.

During the week, I saw a good amount of Pacers gear at various spots on the west side of town, including a dude with maybe the coolest Pacers hat ever at Sidelines in Avon.

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