Sometimes a different perspective changes everything.
Following the Indiana Pacers has been an exercise in multi-tasking. The season started with the ultimate goal, an NBA championship, already out of reach. So each game brings about the ultimate analysis: is the team closer to the ultimate goal or further away? Are the right players developing the right way to move toward the ultimate goal? How can the Pacers speed up the process of competing for the ultimate goal?
Those general questions accompanied every game this year. The answers varied greatly from game-to-game, week-to-week and month-to-month and usually exposed the good, the bad and the ugly. Did the team play well? Did they compete? Did the playing rotations change? WHY?
Question lead to answers which just breed more questions. Don't get me wrong, I obviously love wading through all of the aspects of an NBA game, but sometimes it's just nice to enjoy the game for what it is: a game.
In mid-February, my son said he wanted to go to a game that the Pacers could win, which he quickly followed up with a serious question, "When do they play the Nets?"
Ouch, that one hurt, but of course, the truth always does.
So Cornrows, Jr. and a fellow classmate joined me at the Fieldhouse on Saturday night and I spent the evening enjoying the Pacers' win from the perspective of an 8-year old. I highly recommend it.
As far as these guys were concerned, this was a one game season and winning this one game was all that mattered. What a fun way to watch a game!
We arrived early enough to watch a few players finish their pre-game workouts. The boys were able to get Brandon Rush's autograph which instantly jacked up their excitement level. See they don't care if Rush floats through quarters of play at a time, he was simply bigger than life and treating them well. When he hit his first three later during the game, it was like an old friend splashed it home.
The 8-year old perspective doesn't really need defense to be satisfied. Good thing, because the game was going back and forth with plenty of open shots for everyone. Junior did give an ugh when Yi Jianlian hit what seemed like his 10th wide open jumper from about 18-20 feet (probably only his third, but man, WIDE OPEN). But fortunately, the Pacers caught fire in the third quarter to eventually send us home happy.
You know in a tight game when your team has an open three and as the shooter dials it up you rise with an arm raised anticipating a make? Of course you do, Reggie Miller arguably evoked this move out of fans more than any other player in NBA history.
Well, let me tell you, it's ten times more fun to see your kid rise up with his left arm up and then actually throw the other arm up and start jumping up and down after the three goes in, even if it's not Reggie. But when it happens four times in a row? Almost seems like you're making them go in. Brandon Rush and Earl Watson dialed up a pair of threes in the third quarter which had the boys bouncing in front of their seats. Then on the next two possessions, Troy Murphy knocked down consecutive open threes (yeah, four open 3s in a row, thank NJN).
After each of Murph's makes, Junior became unglued. He's like his old man, he's a gunner and loves the long ball, so this was suddenly hoops nirvana.
That stretch broke open a tight game and the Pacers cruised home with the win as the boys took it all in. The T-shirt machine gun, Boomer's trampoline dunk crew, Boomer coming by for a high five, the sno-cone, the hot dog, the ice cream...the experience of the Pacers beating the Nets was nothing short of a blast.
And I think the boys had a good time, too.