The Indiana Pacers are currently 40-25, good enough for second place in the Eastern Conference. They are one of maybe three teams in the East with a chance of stopping the Miami Heat in the playoffs. This is the best team the Pacers have had since Reggie Miller retired. But you wouldn’t know it based on the local fan support, or lack thereof.
The frustration with the local fan base reached its tipping point with Pacers guard George Hill Friday night after the team’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in which there seemed to be more Lakers fans in the stands than Pacers fans despite the game being in Indiana.
Hill didn’t mince words, putting the home crowd on blast to Mike Wells of the Indy Star:
“It sucks. It was 70 (Lakers fans) – 30 (Pacers fans) out there. These are the same people that wants autographs after the game. We’re out there in the community. We’re doing our job, doing what we’re supposed to do on and off the court. Something has to change. I tip my hat to this team. We’ve been trouble free. Been out in the community shaking hands, we’re winning. It shouldn’t feel like an away game, especially with an important like this. Tonight, that’s what it felt like.”
“They always say your fans are your sixth man and you feed off that energy. Energy is down and we turn the ball over and we’re hearing cheers. We’re missing shots and we’re hearing cheers. That kind of brings your head down cause you know you’re at home. It shouldn’t be like that. Now we see how it is. We have to move forward, don’t worry about. Stay focus on what’s in this locker room and don’t worry about the rest.”
“(We’re) not a team that’s in the bottom in the East. We’re one of the top three teams in the East. We’re winning the Central Division and it should show. Right now it’s not and it’s been all season long where it’s not showing and I don’t think there’s nothing else we can do as an organization and as players. Now it’s up to the community.”
This has to be a low point for Indiana, a state synonymous with its love of basketball. Can you picture Indianans rooting for Michigan State and Magic Johnson to knock off Indiana State and Larry Bird? Booing Bobby Knight? Cheering against Reggie Miller? Heckling Ollie as he took the game-deciding free throws in that one scene from “Hoosiers”?
It’s always embarrassing when the home crowd doesn’t root for the home team, but considering how good the Pacers are this year, and especially considering how mediocre the Lakers have been, the Pacers “faithful” should be ashamed of themselves. Hopefully they take Hill’s comments to heart and provide the boost they’re supposed to provide the rest of the season as Indiana gears up for the playoffs.