As I'll preface by saying I didn't catch the game last night due to having to be at work about five hours after the game ended (I tried something like this last week, and it murdered me. I'm getting too old for it), the fallout of the 23-point loss that I experienced in quarterly text updates at five in the morning is plenty relevant despite not experiencing the game up close and personal.
What originally looked like another yawn game turned bad in the texts turned out to be something more, and it has really smelled kind of awful as the day has gone on. Like a taco left in your back seat for a little too long. The first thing I noticed was that Josh McRoberts led all scorers with nine points at the end of the first quarter. I kind of laughed at this, thinking, "It can’t be a good thing when McBobs is getting the bulk of the scoring." As it turns out, it may have been worse than previously thought, seeing as Josh actually earned those points.
And that’s what sticks out beyond the storm of negativity regarding words from the ghost of Mike Dunleavy and T.J. Ford's Taco Special. It was Jim O'Brien's PR disaster involving Josh. As Mike Wells reported, it was O’Brien who called Josh’s career game "irrelevant," asking him to "do it in a winning effort." Well, Obie, if anyone would know about irrelevancy in 2010, it would be you.
I feel I should clear up quickly how I feel about McRoberts. Personally, I wonder about his ability to be an effective player in regular minutes at the NBA level, though another Wells quote about him being a rotation player if he builds his game does ease my mind a bit. Certainly, I’m not going to dog on the guy for being willing to show up and certainly, I would love to see him get time to show how wrong I am, though little suggests that will change as soon as Solo returns. After all, we don’t play our most interesting prospect, while still letting Ford fall back into what got him benched to begin with. It's kind of a weird pseudo-tanking that could linger on in the future.
We're all having a wonderful time, really. Wish you were here and all of that jazz. And to think we're only seeing the surface of this rotting log. I hate to imagine how much worse things are behind the scenes, away from Fox Sports Indiana's cameras, with their curious rosy red tint. And really, should that be a surprise? The team is 20-40, the coach won’t give you any credit when the rest of your teammates don’t show up, and beyond all of that, who is there to help out the locker room anyway? Danny Granger is clearly too preoccupied to whip his teammates into shape, Ford obviously doesn’t care. Dunleavy hasn’t been showing the play to back up any words he might spout might spout, Dahntay Jones seems to be in a lunch pail mindset instead of leader's, and even Murphy knows it’s just a matter of time before he’s gone.
Everyone else is too young, or too irrelevant to straighten up the locker room. SB Nation’s NBA Power Rankings actually showcased a positive for Toronto…our good buddy Jarrett Jack, The Stability. I imagine the locker room would be a little cleaner with Jack this year. Not to mention, the loss of Travis Diener, though unimportant on the court, seemed to be a bright spot in the increasingly dimming locker room. But what about Jeff Foster? Could his lack of presence in the locker room hurt all the more? Foster would at the very least least by example and show guys how it's supposed to be done. I would be ecstatic if McRoberts could top out as a Jeff Foster type, but unfortunately, no one’s going to take up the torch for Josh like they might (or rather, should) for Jeff.
The Pacers have doubled up the dysfunction for the city’s sports teams for far too long, and even O’Brien’s "change of scenery" is starting to become a wasteland, where the team continues to dump sewage all over itself, even on the one guy who deserved to be above it all for one night. If we’re supposed to be igniting the passion and restoring the pride, don’t we deserve a little leadership by example?
One last thing, and it's the most important as to keep a positive outlook throughout the negatives:
Thanks, Josh. Keep working hard, because even if no one else appreciates it, we do.