Before I got married, my wife-to-be and I were going through Bed Bath and Beyond and registering for gifts. I did my best to give input on our shower curtains, towels and bed sheets but ultimately let her make the decisions. I'm a believer in picking your battles.
But at one point in the day we did not see eye to eye. We had to register for a bathroom trash can, and she picked one out she liked.
I hated it.
I said it looked wretched and we needed a different bathroom trash can. She said, no we need to get this one because it goes with the color scheme we have going on in our bathroom. I said I didn't care about any color scheme because that trash can sucks. See, pick your battles.
But after a while of going back and forth I came to an important realization, and I apologize for the mushiness, but I realized the only reason we are able to have this argument is because we are about to get married. I couldn't have been more excited to marry her, and because of that great gift, we had the chance to have a stupid argument about a bathroom trash can. My frustration in the argument seemed pretty small compared to the excitement of getting married.
I still didn't want that trash can, but I needed to see the big picture and be grateful for what I had.
Now, what does that have to do with the Indiana Pacers?
Well, a lot. Everything.
Beginning in the 2005-06 season, the Pacers' season records went like this: 35-47, 36-46, 36-46, 32-50, 37-45.
For five years the Pacers were the quintessence of mediocrity. There is nothing worse than that as a fan. Attendance was dismal and the team had no real hope. Larry Bird said there was a plan for the future, but nobody saw it.
All fans saw was a team that kept losing, but was actually good enough to finish somewhere around 9th in the conference. So they kept rolling out below average seasons and were never able to acquire or draft a top-shelf talent. People say attendance had to recover from the brawl, and that probably played a part, but who wants to watch that five year stretch play out with no end in sight?
But then somewhere in that 37-45 season, things changed. It really shifted when Frank Vogel came into town and said, "We're going to the playoffs." They did, with about as bad of a record as you can ever have and make the playoffs. But when they did, they got a chance to go toe-to-toe with the Bulls, who had the best record in the league.
And all of a sudden, a franchise was rejuvenated. They picked up George Hill and David West and said we are ready to compete with anyone. And then they did, and the string of mediocrity ended with a 42-24 record in a lockout-shortened season.
Now, I haven't told you anything new, but that is a snap shot of where this team has come from in a very short time. And the turnaround is truly incredible when you consider the Pacers steadily built without ever picking up that top-shelf talent.
Here's the point. During the playoffs we criticized Paul George for getting lost on screens. We lamented the bench getting obliterated so badly that whatever the starters did was always canceled out. This summer we speculated trades and possible movement that could make the team a title-contender. We second guessed when the team stayed silent on Steve Nash and Deron Williams.
When this season starts we will complain about player mistakes, coaching decisions and front office action or inaction. It's a guarantee. But when we do that, I think it would be beneficial for every Pacer fan to take a step back and say, "Wow, this is a pretty good place to be."
To even be having a conversation about what it takes to beat Miami would have seemed like an absolute joke two years ago. When we are complaining over the little things that are going wrong - that maybe push the Pacers from a 2 seed to a 3 or 4 seed - we are arguing over a bathroom trash can.
There's a wedding coming soon. There's a bigger picture. The Pacers are relevant again, and they are in the conversation as one of the best teams in the NBA. We always want more, but when we realize where the Pacers were, this is a pretty exciting place to be.
Let's argue. Let's debate. Let's complain.
But just make sure we appreciate what we have.