The Indiana Pacers Continue to Race Towards Their First NBA Finals Victory
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Did you know that the Indiana Pacers played their first NBA game on October 21, 1976? However, the history of the Indiana Pacers as a franchise actually began in 1967.
I have been to rural Indiana, and can attest to the fact that the film “Hoosiers” epitomizes the state’s love for the game of basketball. Indeed, tiny farm towns have become legends in Indiana, by defeating powerhouses from Indianapolis. The Pacers played in the ABA from 1967-1976. Their team’s name indicates their objective of setting the pace in the basketball industry. It also creates connotations of Indiana’s tradition of auto racing, which includes the annual Indianapolis 500.
Later, the Pacers joined the NBA in the 1976-1977 season. Although the team ended the season with a 36-46 record, Don Buse led the NBA in both assists and steals. Nevertheless, the Pacers made some major trades at the conclusion of the season, which included Buse and their other star, Billy Knight.
Throughout their history in the NBA, the Indiana Pacers have been particularly successful in the 1990s and 2000s. They have appeared in the playoffs during 18 seasons, with 16 of them occurring during those two decades. In addition, the Pacers earned their division’s crown on four occasions. While the team has never won an NBA Finals, it has played in six Conference Finals.
The 2000 appearance was particularly noteworthy. In the 1999-2000 season, the Pacers won their second consecutive division title, finishing the season with a commendable 56-26 record. In the playoffs, the Pacers edged the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5. The Pacers would then eliminate the Philadelphia 76ers (4-2). In their Eastern Conference Finals rematch against the New York Knicks, the Pacers had sweet revenge (4-2). Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Lakers then overpowered the Pacers in the NBA Finals (4-2).
The Indiana Pacers have retired the jersey numbers of four of their players:
Roger Brown – #35 (Forward) 1967-1975
Brown played eight years with the ABA Pacers. He became an ABA All-Star for three years, and won three ABA Championships.
Mel Daniels – #34 (Center) 1968-1974
As a Pacers player, Daniels led the team to three ABA Championships. He participated in seven All-Star games of the ABA, and owns ABA records of career rebounds (9,494) and the career average for rebounds (15.1 per game).
George McGinnis – #30 (Forward) 1971-1975, 1980-1982
McGinnis played on two ABA championship squads (1972, 1973), and was named to three NBA All-Star teams (1976, 1977, 1979)
Reggie Miller – #31 (Guard) 1987-2005
An assassin from long range, Reggie Miller became famous for his 3-point shot, and particularly in clutch scenarios. His achievements include:
o Five NBA All-Star teams
o NBA’s all-time leader in successful 3-point shots (2,560)
o NBA’s all-time leader in 4-point plays (24)
Since joining the NBA, the Indiana Pacers have been off and running. Though they have had much success in the playoffs, a championship ring has remained elusive for them. Cheer on the Pacers as they race towards the finish line of their first NBA championship.
write by Neil