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Oprah's Man Tries To Help Pacers Help Themselves

When the latest Shawne Williams story broke, Larry Bird mentioned how the team has brought in all different types of people this year to advise the players on avoiding problems of the past.

Today, Anthony Schoettle of the Indiana Business Journal reveals a little more about the steps the Pacers have taken this year. This includes working with Oprah Winfrey's longtime boyfriend, Stedman Graham, who was brought in to discuss the personal image of the players.

Best-selling author Stedman Graham says professional athletes should think of themselves as "a corporation unto themselves." "They need to represent themselves as a major business would," Graham said during a recent telephone interview. "That awareness is created by a different kind of thinking."

Graham--who is perhaps best known as television star Oprah Winfrey's boyfriend--brought that message to the Indiana Pacers during a three-hour private seminar in late January that was designed to get the players to rethink the importance of their individual images.

Players said they enjoyed the program, and Pacers officials are considering bringing Graham back for follow-up sessions.

"He talked a lot about brand and how that relates to your earning potential," said Pacers guard Kareem Rush. "[Graham] focused on a lot of life issues, your inner circle, having your life organized and maintaining a real focus in all aspects of your life. It was very informative."
The whole article is interesting as Schoettle discusses the Pacers with marketing experts both locally and from Chicago, who comment on the rough shape the franchise find its current brand.

As depressing as some of this article is, I'm buoyed by the fact that Herb Simon is now on record saying he has no intention of dumping the Pacers and instead plans to work to build that brand back up where it was a few years ago.