The Indiana Pacers have rarely been victims of hype, instead often searching for more hype or at least a little respect for a franchise that has found success without a bona fide, superstar top pick or glamorous free agents riding in to lift the team higher.
There have been a few players roll through Indy with high hopes, most recently Gerald Green, only to eventually reveal reasons they weren't NBA stars from the start of their career. One name that immediately comes to mind is Sarunas Jasikevicius.
Following the brawl year, the Pacers still had talent and high hope heading into 2005. While that hope may have been dashed in a strip club parking lot during training camp, when Jasikevisius signed with Indiana earlier in the summer, he was thinking about supplementing a title contender, as Chad Ford reported at the time.
Saras was coming off of three Euroleague championships and helped lead his Lithuanian national team past Team USA the prior summer in the Olympics. Larry Bird had scouted Jasikevicius a ton and made it his mission to add him to the Pacers.
Yeah, that didn't work. Interestingly, this blurb from Ford's article captures all of the problems Jasikevicius had in Indy.
He's too slow. He's not a great athlete. He doesn't play defense. His passion can make him out of control. How will NBA players respond when he chews them out on the court after they make dumb plays?
Saras struggled to knock down the NBA three-ball and indeed had problems with his teammates. He averaged 7.3 points and three assists his first season, but his size left him no position to play and Anthony Johnson made sure he didn't help while trying to seize as many minutes as he could at the guard position.
In the end. Jasikevicius didn't fulfill his three-year deal with the Pacers, instead being tossed in with Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington in the big trade with Golden State that rocked the Pacers into rebuilding mode whether they admitted at the time or not.
So what other players throughout the team's history either lived up to or fell short of the hype laid on them upon their arrival in Indy?