Imagine you're at a family gathering for a Fourth of July party. You and your family are lighting sparklers, some smoke bombs and those pesky black snakes that leave burn marks on the brick sidewalk. At this family gathering there are no bottle rockets, no multi-shot blasters and no screamin' eagles.
Yet, you're happy and content. Why? Because you don't know any better. This is what you're used to on the Fourth of July. You are in awe when the smoke bomb switches from green to red smoke. It's a grand sight when a sparkler leaves its trail in the dark and it's quite the experience when the parachute men fall from the sky. Clean family fun.
Then, the next of Fourth of July, the crap hits the fan. Cousin Jimmy drives an hour across the border to buy the illegal stuff. Now the big, booming fireworks light up the sky. The screeching bees send shrieks into the neighbor's home. The teenage boys shoot bottle rockets at one another. Then your dumbass older brother puts a bag of fireworks a little too close to the lighter, and all of the firecrackers, roman candles and Black Cat rockets go up in flames that displays a light show second only to Clark Griswold's home during Christmas.
After the big fireworks display, will you ever go back to the campy, old-time fun of sparklers, smoke bombs and slithering snakes? Doubt it.
No, you're Fourth of July virginity has officially been taken. Now you need the illegal stuff. You yearn for the grand explosions. You crave bigger, better and louder. You can never go back.
Welcome to NBA Draft Night for Indiana Pacers fans.
After several years when the draft held no stunning surprises for the Pacers (except for some lowly second-round trades), Larry Bird lit the candle and held it to a monster box of TNT last summer. He blew up the team.
The flames that lit up the June night sky could be seen from Evansville to Fort Wayne. Bird made two gargantuan trades for seven new players on draft night in front of an extremely excited crowd at Conseco "Reggie Miller" Fieldhouse. The team president essentially turned the 11th pick and a broken-down Jermaine O'Neal into Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert, Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts, Rasho Nesterovic, T.J. Ford and Maceo Baston.
One year later and we're one night away from Bird's second draft as the sole proprietor controlling the Pacers fortunes. And I'm expecting big fireworks. Not because I think it's going to happen, but I need it to happen. Hello, my name is Sean Stevenson, and I'm addicted to draft night trades. It's a problem, I know. But think back to a year ago when those trades went down. Talk about an adrenaline rush. Had the draft gone on for another hour, Bird would have traded Chris Denari for Marv Albert. It was just one of those magical nights.
As we head into Thursday's draft, I need more than the No. 13 pick. The general consensus is that something big can happen with that pick. It is extremely plausible that a top-8 player will drop in the lap of the Pacers, a repeat of the Jerryd Bayless situation from one year ago. When that happens, Bird has the chance to light an aerial assortment of fireworks and blow things up again (hopefully including Jamaal Tinsley in a deal). Bird has given indications this week that deals could be in the works. Bird said:
"You never know. We're talking to some teams about different scenarios, but I can't see having any more than five new faces. Whatever that means, it won't be seven this year but it could be five.
We have some options to do some things. You never really know until it gets up to the draft. We'll have some opportunities to do some things. If you can do some things and get two players that can help you, you'll have to look at it. There's a lot of things we're mulling over."
Bruno listed three teams today that are potential trading partners for the Pacers. The Bulls are extremely interested in moving up in this draft. They hold two picks (the 16th and 26th) and with those in their arsenal, it could be easy for a team to sweep up both while offering them a better prospect. Depending on who falls to No. 13, the Pacers would be in great position to swap with the Bulls.
NBA reporter David Aldridge also reports that Houston will do whatever it takes to get into the first round, while Portland is willing to move up for DeJuan Blair. The Celtics may be interested in jump into the first round. Former Pacer GM David Kahn is collecting draft picks like a kid collects baseball cards.
And that's just talk about the No. 13 pick. Who knows what will happen with the Pacers second-round selection, the No. 52 pick.
So far, it's apparent that teams are willing to go crazy with this draft. Prior to Draft Night, three trades have been officially completed while rumors of other big trades are blowing up quicker than a bottle rocket in the Indiana sky. With some teams intent on dumping salary, other teams intent on improving and others intent on doing anything to put more butts in seats next year, this draft is shaping up to be an explosive one.
If Bird is going to change this squad into a playoff team for the 2009-10 season, Thursday night is the night to do it. It's a time when some GM's panic, mass chaos sends shockwaves through the draft and only the strong survive. With Bird, the Pacers have a decision-maker with ice in his veins. That comes in handy on Draft Night.
So no more sparklers and smoke bombs; I want the real deal. Hopefully, Bird lights another fuse and blasts some trades that send an adrenaline rush of excitement through this franchise for the second-straight year. So sit back, relax and enjoy Thursday night's light show. It may be the best fireworks you see all summer.