Hating the average pace

The Indiana Pacers lost last night 100-85 to the hated Detroit Pistons.

Good. I’m glad.

Wait, what? What’s this? Mr. Can’t Stand The Pistons is happy they won? Mr. Believes The Pistons Cost Reggie Miller A Championship is actually rooting against his home team?

Yes. I’m officially rooting against the Pacers. Against the team that I consider my favorite, not just in basketball but in all sports. I’m hoping against hope that they lose every game from here on out. I welcome tanking. I have no pride left. How could I?

It’s been a trying three seasons for Pacers fans. We’ve watched our legend – the best player to ever put on an Indiana uniform – robbed of his title by the most widely publicized brawl in sports history. We’ve weathered high predictions, only to find our star player wants to be traded. We’ve taken on a horribly overrated player, only to lose him when free agency comes around. And now? We’re suiting up a team of random players with horrible contracts.

There’s no end in sight. We’re saddled with a bench full of scrubs and a team that can’t even contend in the league’s weakest conference. And get this – if the Pacers end up with the 11th pick or worse, they have to give it to Atlanta. It’s part of the trade that brought Al Harrington back to Indianapolis. First pick through tenth, we keep it. Otherwise, it’s a wasted draft.

The Pacers are horrible this year. But, unfortunately, they’re not horrible enough to matter.

In professional basketball, being a team stuck in the middle is hell. It’s impossible. The league is set up so that the best teams are always the best. Only by divine luck or pure organizational savvy can you create something out of nothing. The same teams are always winning. The same teams are always losing. You need to hit the lottery twice in order to create something new, or else you need to be able to pick up talent for less than it’s worth.

Larry Bird is not proving himself well as the Pacers’ GM. He’s made some boneheaded moves. He’s drafted well, but he’s locked in at a mid-teens pick every single year.

What we need is to cut our losses. Call this season a wash. Call next season a wash as well. Get some lottery picks – someone we can actually develop into a quality player.

In order to get a decent draft pick, we can’t just suck. We have to suck more than the other teams in the league. We need to collapse monumentally. We need to lose every game from here on out. Because the worst could certainly still happen – we could miss the playoffs and STILL be without the consolatory reward: a young draft pick. The worst of both worlds.

That’s the Pacers, my friends. Always in the middle. Indy .500. The most average team ever to grace the league.

It pains me to root against my own team. But it’s necessary, for the good of the team, for the good of the city. Indianapolis doesn’t need to think about basketball, not after their beloved Colts won the Super Bowl. We can’t forget their plight – the Pacers are better than this.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I root against the Pacers. I can’t help it. I’d like to still think there’s hope for the team.

Most of us Pacers fans are tired of rooting for average. It’s just too exhausting.

This was lovingly handwritten on April 4th, 2007