How the Pacers lost the battle…but won the world

(Photo: SI.com)

(Photo: SI.com)

They were so close to the NBA finals. So close they could see it. They could feel it. They were packed for it.

But close was as far as the Indiana Pacers would get. At least this year.

On a side note, I wish Paul George would have taken a picture of his suitcase. I was dying to see what his finals wardrobe consisted of. Maybe I can contact his stylist. Or Krissy from the Pacers.

But all is not lost. In fact, nothing was lost during this year’s playoffs. If anything, much was gained.

This has been a process for the Pacers. A three-year process to be exact. And every year, they’ve made it one step farther than the year before. The first year Frank Vogel took over as head coach, the Pacers made the playoffs. The second year, they won a series. This year, it was the Eastern Conference Finals.

Which brings us to next year…and the NBA finals. Why not? Tell them they can’t. Tell them they don’t have the talent, the experience, the mental toughness. It’s what they’re used to. It’s what drives them. Just ask Roy Hibbert (at your own risk).

When the playoffs started, the only people who believed in the Pacers were the Pacers. And their fans. But as they kept playing, kept fighting, and kept winning…a funny thing happened. Other people started to believe.

There were tweets from celebrities remarking on their toughness and teamwork. Aaron Rodgers, Adam Levine, and others.

Pacers fans were no longer alone.

In Indiana, “Beat the Heat” signs hung in windows and storefronts, on lawns and lamp posts. Pacers attire was the trend on the street and at the mall. And last night’s game was the topic of conversation everywhere you went.

The Pacers are back. It’s no longer about the glory days behind them. These Pacers are all about the bright days ahead of them.

Only now, they have to share the view.

In the end, the Pacers lost the battle. But what they gained will carry them much farther. And they’ll have to make room for a few more on the ride.

Thanks, guys. For an unbelievable season. For playing with teamwork and toughness and pride.

Now we have to share you with the world. And we’re happy to do it.

Just remember who believed in you all along.

 

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