As a Pacer fan, the obvious highlight of my season was the ESPN 30 for 30 story on Reggie Miller vs the New York Knicks. I loved every second of the documentary. I thought it was put together very well, and the best part was all of the memories it brought back.
On the other hand it was bitter-sweet in some ways. The Pacers have been awful for the last few years, but I have still enjoyed the NBA and told myself, "It's OK that the Pacers aren't competitive because it is still great to watch all of these high profile teams go at it in the Playoffs."
But that was wrong. There is something incredible about living and dying with every point in an NBA Playoff series. And Pacer fans got to experience that excitement consistently from the mid 90's to the early 00's. Honestly, I took it for granted. And seeing those old games again, I remembered how much I hated the Knicks and how much I cared about how those games turned out. It reminded me that the Pacers used to matter. And I want that again so badly. I want our games to be meaningful; relevant. I want to sit at work all day and be thinking about what is going to happen in the game tonight.
Which brings us to the lottery. The Pacers haven't been a serious contender for the top pick in the lottery even though they've been bad. In fact, the last two years they finished 9th in the East, just out of the playoffs, and a long way from the top talent in the draft. To me, it seems silly to act like a top pick in the draft is the only way the team can get good, but a glance at the top of the league shows that you have to score big with a superstar or you will never be good.
The elite teams all have that elite talent player - and unless you get extremely lucky (Kobe Bryant) that player is going to come in the top 5 picks. Mostly all recent champions and current great teams have gotten a superstar at the top of the draft.
Cavs - Lebron #1
Magic - Howard #1
Denver - Carmelo #3
Spurs - Duncan #1
And it goes on. The Heat won the title on 2006 with Dwyane Wade (#5). The Thunder are getting all kinds of hype as an up and coming team, and are getting a ton of credit for building a young team. But their core is Durant (#2), Jeff Green (#5), Russel Westrbrook (#4), and James Harden (#3). You can't build a team like that when you are finishing 9th in the conference every year. You have to be bad. Real bad. And then you have to get your pick right.
In the NBA, which is a star's league, this is how you get good. And this is how there is hope for a Pacers fan. This is why I've been watching highlights of John Wall, Evan Turner, and Derrick Favors. Because we need a big time player to be relevant again.
And as a fans, we need our team to be relevant.