While most of the talking points at Pacers media day concerned the health of Danny Granger, Paul George’s freshly signed contract, who will start, the new and improved bench, the likelihood that Solomon Hill could surprise some fans in preseason, the team’s quest for offensive efficiency, and the goal of winning a championship, perhaps, the most interesting moment from the entire Q & A session was a comment made by Roy Hibbert.
During the livestream from media day, Hibbert revealed that the Pacers (Larry Bird) turned down the opportunity to star on NBA-TV’s The Association. For those unfamiliar with the program, The Association is basically a documentary series that each year provides NBA fans with a behind the scenes look at one of the league’s most prominent and newsworthy teams over the course of an NBA season. Originally airing on ESPN, the show followed the Los Angeles Lakers (2009-2010) and Boston Celtics (2010-2011) during its first two seasons. It was then later picked up by NBA-TV where the program covered the Denver Nuggets (2011-2012), and, most recently, the Brooklyn Nets (2012-2013).
Fans of The Association know that the program does not discriminate on what it chooses to air. It shows the highs and the lows. The good and the bad – and everything in between. It covers some of the more jovial moments between teammates and the strength of team chemistry, as well as, disagreements between players and coaches. It also probes into each team’s individual philosophy and routine. In prior seasons, fans may have watched as Kobe Bryant broke down game tape with Phil Jackson. In the 2010-2011 season, a very private moment was taped while covering the Boston Celtics in which the show aired the team’s, as well as, Kendrick Perkins’ emotional reaction to being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the trade deadline. The program then continued to follow the Celtics as they dealt with losing a member of the 2008 championship team, questioned the wisdom of the trade, and tried to build chemistry with new Celtic, Jeff Green. Last season, the cameras were there to watch the Nets players adjust to interim coach, P.J. Carlesimo after the team fired Avery Johnson.
As can be seen from the various examples, having the cameras there to follow the team’s every move can easily become a distraction.
When Hibbert was asked about the team’s lack of media coverage, he admitted that the team had a group discussion about whether they should accept NBA-TV’s offer to star on the next season of the show. Hibbert stated that some of the players were in favor of being on the program, while others were less than enthused. In the end, Larry Bird listened to the team’s input and, ultimately, decided to turn down the opportunity.
Bringing extra media attention to the Pacers is a positive for various reasons. First of all, only 4 of the 30 NBA teams have been featured on the program. Therefore, just being asked to star on the upcoming season is an honor. Obviously, being a part of the show would bring national attention to the team and could garner the Pacers additional fans, attendance, and ratings. Certainly, it would give the rest of the country the opportunity to see how competitive the Pacers are during the season, instead of just during the playoffs. However, with these pluses, come some of the aforementioned possible draw backs – too much coverage, too much attention, and too many distractions.
In the end, the Pacers seem to have decided that their smash mouth identity and selfless culture is for building chemistry, winning games on the court, and working toward winning a championship – not for the cameras.