We got a season!
That’s right folks. The game warden has declared basketball season open. It’s time for another NBA year. Yes, it’s a month and a half late, but we true addicts don’t care. Admit it. You’ve all been free basing on the twitter feed about the labor talks in the hopes that peace between the union and the league could be achieved. I most certainly did. Don’t hide from it.
I have to admit I was ready to just throw in the towel. I thought the NBA season was finished. Many experts had compared the NFL labor situation to being a bad ankle sprain and the NBA to a torn ACL. Saying ACL in sports is almost like dropping an “F” bomb during Sunday mass.
Oh, and if you want to talk about foul language? How about the choice of words used to describe the scuttling of the season? As soon as the NBPA decertified, the situation was receiving monikers like the “doomsday scenario” and “nuclear winter”. I started putting together my Pacers bomb shelter out in the back yard equipped with food, water, and the DVD of the Pacers Greatest Games: Vol. 1. (You know. Just in case I need a fix)
But now we can come out from cover people. The “Missing Season Crisis” is finally over. And yet, it still seems the lockout hasn’t ended. I still feel this faint emotion of hopelessness that the NBA would never have solved their differences. I’m in such shock that this happened, the reality has only began to sink in. But after 15 hours of talking on that dark November day, a ray of light broke through the thick overcast and we got ourselves a season.
Some will say that this labor rift has hurt fan relations. I can kind of understand their argument, but if those fans want to get all butt-hurt about this, go ahead. I’m willing to forget what happened because I have been so thirsty for Pacer relevance. When the NFL went back to work, it didn’t take long for me to forget all the hoopla and shenanigans. And consider this: that’s with the Colts holding a big fat goose egg in the win column. That’s with the Colts not being very active in that fast paced, rock-em sock-em knock out of free agency from this most recent shortened football offseason. This is where the Colts and Pacers are night and day, respectively.
The Colts weren’t making any noise in the offseason except keeping Peyton Manning financially happy without a physical examination, and we all know how that happened. They didn’t have a lot of cap room to make any big moves, and trades rarely happen in football. The most polarizing characteristic between the two teams are the stages of their dominance in the Circle City. Where the sun is setting on the Colts, it is rising for the Pacers. The burden of the old, bloated contracts of the past six years finally come off the books. It seems we are in every trade rumor out there. We have tons of young, promising talent. We have lots of pieces that are viable to other teams that could produce interesting trade talks. But for the first time in 6 long, agonizing years, the dawn is coming for the Blue and Gold. People can finally start getting excited about Indiana basketball again.
So what happens next? We’re coming off a late season spark that landed the Pacers in a very competitive first round and yearning for more. Larry Bird has acquired character players with young talent that Coaches Frank Vogel, Brian Shaw, and Jim Boylen can mold into real winners. We have a full year under consistent quality coaching that we didn’t have last year. We now have a ton of cap space that we can use on a big name if we want. I wouldn’t mind holding off a little on free agency just so we can save money for our current stars when their rookie contracts expire (Cough, Roy Hibbert). There’s a lot of room to maneuver and a lot of different directions to take.
So what happens next? I DON’T KNOW! AND THAT’S THE BEST PART! It’s the not knowing that makes it so fun! I remember a time when the Pacers had a rough 20 year stretch and came back in 1994 and surprised the entire league with their Eastern Conference Finals bid against the Knicks. If you were around back then, you remember that commotion the city endured. Downtown was strictly blue and gold. People were going responsibly nuts in the streets. Everything took a back seat to basketball. For once, the May timeframe wasn’t just about open wheel-racing in Indy. I feel those times are upon us now. The Pacers have seen a mass exodus of their fans through the brawl and the subsequent years after. This could be the year we bring them back. I feel the third golden era is upon us in Pacers history. The pieces are finally falling into place. And to those lucky few, dedicated Pacer nutballs out there like myself that have sat through these brutal six years, it couldn’t have come at a better time. WE GOT A SEASON!