FanPost

The Conflict of Cheering For Losses

[From the FanPosts, SethGrandpa taps into a common issue facing Pacers' fans these days. -TL]

Everytime I check the Pacers score and see that they won, I get disheartened.

It's been like this for the past few years.

The team needs to lose.  That sucks.  It's a symptom of a broken system the NBA has created and is dragging its fans through.

The Pacers need to lose because they need a high draft pick.  They need a player who can be a franchise savior.  They need a Derrick Rose, a Kevin Durant, heck, they'd even settle for a Stephen Curry.  It's the only way to drag them out of their current hole.  But why is this the case?

It boils down to this - Indiana is not a destination franchise.  The term destination franchise refers to a place that appeals to the top-tier of free agents - the guys who can either be the best or second best player on a title contending team.  These destinations include big markets (New York, Chicago, L.A.), states with huge tax breaks (Florida and Texas), and possibly even places where it never snows (Pheonix).  To put it simply, there isn't anything appealing to free agents about a place like Indiana.  They won't get media coverage, tax breaks, or consistently warm weather.  Because of this truth, the only way Indiana can drastically improve its club is to hit big on a draft pick or swindle a team in a trade (as was the case in the trades that brought back Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest, and Brad Miller).  Considering none of those types of trades have happened under the current regime's watch, that pretty much only leaves the draft.

Over the past few years the Pacers have done the one thing you cannot do as a non-destination franchise - they've barely missed the playoffs.  While logically it would seem to be a good thing to at least be mildly competitive, getting stuck in this niche is a franchise killer.  By finishing just shy of the playoffs, players do not get valuable postseason experience and the team has what essentially boils down to a zero chance of picking high. 

This is where the NBA system is really broken.  The lottery used to be set up where every team had an equal chance of landing the top pick.  This eliminated any tanking and could potentially reward teams on the cusp, giving them the boost they needed to legitimize their team.  Unfortunately, the NBA brass panicked after the Orlando Magic won back to back #1 picks in the lotto - giving them Shaq and Chris Webber (oh wait no, the Magic screwed the pooch and traded the pick.)  The NBA swiftly ushered in a weighted system that punishes teams for putting a competitive squad on the floor while rewarding teams that consistently screwed things up.  EDIT: The draft actually became weighted before the Magic won back-to-back.  However, it became weighted to a more severe degree in reaction to this fluke occurrence.

And that leads me to where I am - cursing every time I see the Pacers notch a W.  It's not that I want the team to lose, in fact quite the opposite.  I want the team to win, but the only way they have a chance to do so is to lose.  Isn't that a horrid problem?  The only chance the Pacers have of being successful in the long term is to get a star, a John Wall or Evan Turner.  Every win decreases their lottery chances and increases the odds of mediocrity for years and years to come.

My friends make fun of me because I always say I want the Pacers to be the worst team in the league over being the #8 seed and getting throttled in the playoffs.  They say I'm a bad fan.  I'm not.  I'm a great fan with a firm grounding in the reality of the NBA works. 

The twisted and broken way it works.

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