Allow me a little latitude today as I partake in SB Nation NBA's "Cult Classics" theme to share a player from any past Pacers team that didn't have a starring role but was still a fan favorite. This past season's Pacers team developed a few candidates from Tyler Hansbrough to Lou Amundson and finally Kyrylo Fesenko, but one year does not a cult hero make.
Before I share my thoughts, I encourage you to share your thoughts on the topic in the comments and if the mood strikes you, put up a FanPost I can promote as part of the theme day.
On assignments like this, I like to close my eyes and seize on the first thing that pops in my mind. For me, it wasn't a seldom-used player, but more a spirit. At least that's the way I felt. My cult hero was the "Davis Boys" from the mid-90's. Dale Davis and Antonio Davis were stout, defensive-minded power forwards that did the dirty work for those tough teams in the '90's. But on their own, they were just DD and AD.
Together, they were the Davis Boys, delivering a physical presence and mental toughness to a team of talented offensive players. The Davis Boys was a single entity, an aura soaked into the fabric of those teams that the other players, coaches and fans could lean on to know the Pacers were up for any challenge.
When Pat Riley went to the New York Knicks and turned the Eastern Conference into a bloodbath, the Pacers were fine because the Davis Boys never backed down. They made it safe for Rik Smits to hold his wrist up on the follow through of his shot until the ball splashed through the net. Mark Jackson was able to make plays in the lane and then shoulder shimmy after delivering a bucket, because the Davis Boys were holding court. And of course, the Davis Boys provided the necessary backing to allow Reggie Miller to skip down the court with his arms raised after draining yet another big three pointer.
The two big boys were the perfect compliment for the rest of that team, providing the backbone to battle in the East well into May every year. Neither was an offensive threat, yet they would make offensive plays in the flow of the game that were like gravy. The sad part about the legend is that Antonio Davis wasn't around when the Pacers finally broke through to the NBA Finals. Hindsight makes it even more painful, since the Pacers could've really used AD in that Finals series against the Lakers.
Dale Davis was traded after the Finals as the Pacers tried to rebuild on the fly. Fittingly, the Davis Boys delivered two key young talents (Jonathan Bender and Jermaine O'Neal) for that scheduled rebuild. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as planned in the end. That's probably because those teams were missing a spirit and toughness the Davis Boys used to deliver.
Again, share your "cult heroes" in the comments!