Henry at True Hoop picked up the IBJ article on the Pacer ad campaign I mentioned here. He highlighted this ridiculous statement from market research which was used to keep any players out of the current advertising campaign.
O'Brien was chosen as the primary spokesman for the early part of the campaign, Hirschauer said, because research showed the older, corporate audience that buys season tickets finds him credible.
Part of the shift, Hirschauer said, is because many Pacers fans in this "conservative market" don't identify with the "hip-hop" culture some in the NBA have cultivated in recent years.
Pacers fans are more interested in things like hustle, teamwork and fundamentally sound basketball than individual stars, he said.
And, in fairness, those same fans have supported plenty of black players in the past.
Are the Pacers feeling the need to appear whiter? Some NBA insiders have volunteered to me that they think it's so.
Exhibit A is O'Brien as the campaign's star.
Exhibit B is the last season's big trade. Indiana shipped out talented black players Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington (and others) for the overpaid, less talented, and much whiter Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Troy Murphy (and others).
Indiana fans, if you're happy to cheer for black players, you might want to make sure the team knows that now. Pick up a phone, send them an email ... You don't want it on your conscience if the team ends up trading Jermaine O'Neal for Raef LaFrentz and cap filler.
Yes, Stephen Jackson had his issues with the law, but he also had his issues with Rick Carlisle and didn't give the Pacers a consistent effort. This had nothing to do with his offcourt issues or that he was black. Jack's presence on the Pacers just wasn't working. Sarunas Jasikevicius was taking as much heat as Jack for his unproductive ways and, oh, yeah, he was part of the Golden State deal, too.
Simple minds may come up with simple solutions for why Jack was traded and Dunleavy and Murphy were part of the deal. Did you ever think that Dunleavy and Murphy weren't the Pacers' first option in the deal? Their contracts are brutal, but like I said before, Jack had to go, so the Pacers had to take on those contracts.
One final defense of the community in Indiana that many on both coasts assume remains backward and racist, please look at the support for the Indianapolis Colts. There are plenty of Super Bowl rings worn by Colts who would be considered part of the "hip hop" culture and they are adored. While he didn't win a ring here, no player typified "hip hop" culture more than Edgerrin James, so much so he refused to alter his image to attract endorsement opportunities. Edge also worked like crazy, produced plenty of wins, and did his thing in the community. He was a rock star here and will always be welcomed for giving everything he had to give.
To be honest, the majority of the Indy area has given up on the Pacers which is easy since the Colts are there to ease the pain. Still, I'm not a fan of the ad campaign. As I've said before, I wish the Pacers would develop some creative ads, using the players and some humor which would make the players more appealing to the public. If all the Pacers are getting out of their new public relations help are the ads that make O'B sound like he's ready to lead a death march, then they should ask for a refund. But, again, why lay this issue soley on racial implications.
To answer Henry's question, yes I want to root for black players, just as I have for as many years as I can remember. Just don't call yourself an NBA insider and insult me by making an assumption from on far that I don't appraise a player's performance by anything other that what they leave on the court. The whole argument is shallow and an embarrassment for those who advance it.