November 5th was supposed to be opening night at Conseco Fieldhouse for the Indiana Pacers. This was supposed to be the first night of a new era where overpaid contracts of Mike Dunleavy and T.J. Ford were off the books and the shape of our new Pacers was to be taking its next steps. But, of course we all know the lockout situation quickly extinguished all that.
In a plan to get Area 55 back together, El Pacero constructed a get-together and posted it on Twitter. The plan was to tailgate in a parking lot as if a game were to happen and just never leave. Lance Stephenson Sr. had gotten wind of this and wanted to come meet people who loved the Pacers as much as he’s grown to. Thirty minutes after we had begun, Lance Sr. and Bernadette Stephenson had arrived with their other son also named Lance (Though his nickname‘s Tookie). Honestly it was a little awkward at first. No one really knew what to say to each other. Circles of conversation were pretty widespread around our area. About an hour later Lance Sr. called our boy from the blue and gold to put him on speakerphone so we could chant for him. Not twenty minutes later Lance and his friends Biggie showed up.
We all knew etiquette was important. He knew etiquette was important. We didn’t want to overcrowd him, anyone could tell he was trying to make a stride with his new positive image. Once again, it was a bit awkward. Everyone seemed to be walking on egg shells. We talked. We ate Burgers and hot dogs together. Before I knew it, it was dark out and it seemed everything changed. It had gone from several little different talking groups to everyone being huddled together. All of a sudden it was like a neighborhood cookout. Everybody knew everybody. Phone numbers were exchanged and pictures were being taken together. Openness and smiles had replaced the wondering what the night would bring. We weren’t with Lance Stephenson’s family anymore, we were with the Stephensons and Biggie and it was one of the greatest times I’ve ever had and I can speak for everyone in saying we’re proud to have them in our Pacer family.