Human Interest


Well, finally, the “good guys” won! Yes, for me the “good guys” are the Indiana Pacers. And today, they obliterated the big bad New York Knicks, their arch rival. It has been 29 years since the Reggie Miller-led “hicks” played and defeated the Patrick Ewing-led Knicks. Today’s game was a thing of beauty. 

It was game 7 of the best of seven series tied at 3 games each. The Pacers lost the first two very close games at Madison Square Garden to trail in the series 0-2. Then in Indianapolis, they won the next two by 5 and 32. With the series tied 2-2, game 5 was a 30-point Knicks blow-out at MSG. Returning to Indy, the Pacers pulled out a 13-point win against a Knick team with countless injured players. 

Today’s 7th game at MSG, attended by Spike Lee, John McEnroe, Ben Stiller, John Stewart, and Steve Schirripa (from “Blue Bloods”), plus former Knick players John Starks, Larry Johnson, Walt Frazier, and Latrell Sprewell (at least these were the celebrities ABC showed on camera) was one of the more exciting games I’ve watched in a long time. Why? Because it was Pacer domination from mid-way through the first quarter to the end. I LOVED IT!!

It helped that the Knicks were decimated by injuries and had to resort to playing guys with little playing time this season. Two starters were out from the beginning of the series, another had to leave during game two, a fourth suffered an abdominal strain in game 6, and today, the leading scorer, Jalen Brunson, left in the 3rd quarter with a broken hand. But the Knicks still put up a fight. Today, the Pacers had to shoot 67% from the field (a record) and have 6 players score in double figures to win 130-109. Pacer Tyrese Halliburton was 6-12 on 3-pointers, and led the Pacers in scoring with 26. 

Besides red-hot shooting, the Pacers played tenacious, disruptive defense which led NY to make only 13 of 35 3-pointers (37%) while the Pacers made 13 of 24 (54%). They made a basket when they needed one and made defensive stops when NY was threatening to take the lead. Most of the time, Indiana managed to maintain a decent lead that only once narrowed to 6 points. Most of the game it was 12-19 points. 

The most irritating thing about the game to me was how the ABC announcers failed to acknowledge how well the Pacers had played. They made an occasional reference to it, but they more persistently made excuses for the Knicks and said their fans should give the team a standing ovation at “garbage time” when the game was out of reach.  

The rivalry is intense between the two teams largely because of the Reggie Miller-Spike Lee back-and-forth taunts in 1995. Spike was there today in his Knick jersey and hat and over-sized red eyeglasses. Indiana Pacer fans have no love for the Knicks. It’s also no secret that the media and television networks massively favor the Knicks and would prefer they win because they’re a “major market” franchise and allegedly attract more eyeballs and therefore more advertising money. They are NBA royalty, or so they like to think! Pacer fans are the great unwashed and are upstarts that are lucky to be in the playoffs. 

When the Pacers play like they did today, all that arrogance gets kicked to the side. Credit should be given where it’s due. The Pacers have a better team at this point in the season. Yes, New York has several injured players, but “them’s the breaks.” Every team has to deal with that, some more than others, and if you can compensate for it, you might win. The Knicks did not, so they lost. It’s not supposed to be apparent, but announcers very often show their bias in their commentary during a game. Today, when the Knicks were getting demolished, it was on full display. 

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