Following the the Pacers loss to the Lakers last week (which seems like a month ago now), George Hill made a point to complain about the roar of approval from Lakers fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse after the Pacers blew a late lead. Hill clarified those comments for the Indy Star after cooling down earlier this week.
I took the comments as no big deal, even though they were misguided at the time. Hill and his teammates wouldn't have heard those cheers had they taken care of business to keep the purple-clad fans quiet. But I also give Hill more latitude in these matters since he is a local player who grew up in the city. He's literally calling out his people for more local support.
Besides, there are factors that will always make the big market, high profile teams draw plenty of support to the Fieldhouse. First of all, it is a similar situation at many other arenas in the NBA. Portland, with no other competition for the Blazers attention, has as stout a local fan base as any in the league, but I heard audible roars of approval for the Knicks during their recent game in Portland.
Plus, the Pacers remain a guilty basketball pleasure for many hoop heads in Indiana, with the fate of the college teams earning a more passionate following. Kelly Dwyer breaks down the whole situation quite well here, so I'll direct you to his comments which hit on other areas I would point to that create the situation that frustrated Hill.
One additional point that can't be overlooked is the location of Indianapolis. The city is referred to as the Crossroads of America and if you go around the dial there are plenty of thriving cities both big and small within a three-hour drive. The Lakers hadn't been to Indy since Dec. 15, 2010, so when the schedule came out this year there were surely Kobe and/or Lakers fans from Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus and all of the small towns in between that marked that Friday night in March (sweet no school the next day!) on their calendar and planned accordingly.
Repeat this scenario for all of the big-name teams and you have the key component to what the Pacers face in filling the Fieldhouse with a Pacers-only crowd.
Speaking of George Hill speaking, the guy has been highly entertaining during his radio show with Query and Schultz on 1260AM which airs on Tuesday or Wednesday (when GHill is in town, NOT tonight) at 5 PM. In previous shows we learned some interesting details about the Pacers point guard.
- His sharp-shooting skills aren't quite as good as he thought after going through target shooting with the National Guard. This despite his confidence after going through gun training for an old job with Brinks.
- Did you say Brinks? Yep, long before the Pacers backed up the Brinks truck for Hill last summer with a 5-year contract, the point guard kept track of the stacks for the Brinks folks which required packing heat.
- Hill and his family used to have horses in the city while he was growing up and GHill could be seen riding a horse at 35th and German Church back in the day. The family finally had to get rid of the horses due to an unfortunate accident with a truck and the fact that people kept freeing the horses from the barn to run around the neighborhood.
- Hill also enjoys working on old hot rods and spends a lot of free time learning and working on cars at a local garage.
- Hill likes all kinds of music including some country and if you're not careful he'l sing Beer with Jesus for you.