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Fans behind Pacers now, win or lose


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INDIANAPOLIS

It’s common for members of the media to be seated at different work stations from game to game once the increased credential demand of the NBA playoffs kicks in.

Thus, Indiana’s Game 6 victory against Miami provided me a refreshingly unique angle as for the first time in a long time my assigned area was in the northwest corner of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Not courtside five or six chairs to the left of Pacers coach Frank Vogel, although I must say that’s nice.

Not at one of the two rows of tables reserved for media just off the floor between the south basket and the visiting team’s bench. Those locations, too, are nice.

We’re talking halfway up. Section 19. A place where the noise and enthusiasm of 18,165 gold-shirted fans stubbornly refuses to get lost in any sort of acoustical otherworld.

It was, in short, a blast.

I had been granted the ideal spot to watch people with blue-gold face paint dance without a care in the world. To observe the impressive blending of new- (Paul George, Roy Hibbert, etc.) and old-school jerseys (Roger Brown, Mel Daniels) while listening to persons so familiar with the product that only a first name was required to encourage.

“Take it to him, Roy. TAKE ... HIM!”

“Paul ... get ON him.”

And my personal favorite: “LANCE?!?”

I know what you’re thinking. Where were these people during those 41 regular-season home games when the Pacers ranked 25th of the 30 NBA franchises with an average following of 15,269?

Are there really 3,000 front-runners out there?

Difficult to tell, really. I imagine some weren’t totally sold with the product, the thinking being that an Indiana team without the injured Danny Granger would advance no later than the second round of the postseason.

Others might still be turned off by the brawl in November 2004 (let it go, already!). Furthermore, never underestimate the impact sluggish economical times can have on the entertainment dollar.

Maybe I’m naive or badly uneducated in the ways of the NBA, but I think the Pacers franchise turned an important corner Saturday night regardless of what happens this evening in Miami.

I saw it. I heard it. That place was a hoops mosh pit in the best of ways. Pure gold visually and audibly.

This community loves this team, which makes perfect sense considering the players love this community. Warriors such-as David West, Hibbert, George and Indy’s own George Hill give back with a smile, as do so many others on the 2012-13 roster.

Having good people is great and all, but if their merged basketball abilities are only good for a 30-52 record or something comparable, no one cares.

Now, finally, Indiana cares. And if the Pacers knock off the Heat tonight in Miami to advance to play San Antonio in the NBA Finals, the bandwagon becomes even more populated.

Don’t know about you, but I’m totally alright with three more home games. Here’s hoping this party is just getting started.

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