Indianapolis, January 6th 2014–
Early in the first half of the New Orleans-Indiana matchup on Saturday night, the Pacers exchanged high-fives and smiles as they received updates via text or twitter on the NFL playoff game going on a few blocks away at Lucas Oil Stadium. It looked like, for the first time since the Reggie Miller era, the league-leading Indianapolis NBA franchise would be the biggest story in town.
“We definitely going to sell out now!” celebrated Chris Copeland, while pointing to the mostly empty upper decks of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, “Even the fans here tonight are people who couldn’t afford Colts playoff tickets! But now we can have the whole city’s attention!” Later in the second quarter, when the Kansas City Chiefs went up 38-10 on Indianapolis, Pacer center Roy Hibbert joked about getting cigars and champagne.
And then the unthinkable happened.
Cell phones pinged with alerts in the stands. Excited chatter echoed throughout the upper decks. Roars of cheering started to go up during timeouts when Pacers mascot Boomer rode around the center court logo on a little motorcycle while chasing a cheerleader. At halftime, the Pacers heaved a collective sigh of despair and beautiful forward Luis Scola exclaimed, “You gotta be %^$#ing kidding me!” The source of their consternation was a highlight, replaying over and over again on the locker room television. Their nemesis, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, dove into the endzone like a superhero. The score brought the Colts within 3 points of the Chiefs.
As the NFL playoff game’s final score announcement came over the Fieldhouse speakers, Pacers forward Paul George shook his head, remarking, “One more week,” then he wiped something from his eye. “So close,” whispered forward David West, barely heard over the overwhelming applause of the fans, the loudest cheers heard all night.
The Pacers then turned into a frothing rage of violence and took out there frustration on the Pelicans, going on an 18-0 run for a lead they would never relinquish.
In the postgame presser at Lucas Oil Stadium, Luck chopped down a tree and carved a canoe while remarking, “The biggest thought going through my mind when I dove after that fumble? ‘EFF THE PACERS.’ There is no way I’m giving up the place of prominence in this town, and Larry Bird had better keep that in mind. I know where you live, Bird, and I know your medical history. I know exactly how I will strike.”
Center Samson Satale, who for once was in the right place at the right time so a Donald Brown fumble would rebound off his helmet and into Luck’s waiting hands, remarked, “I mean, they should just dress Andy to play for the Pacers, that’s really what it comes down to. He looked like Michael Jordan on that play. Golly.” Shortly after this statement, Luck’s beard bullrushed Satele straight into the ground and Satele curled into the fetal position.