The Indiana Pacers hosted their 14th annual "Come To Our House" event on Monday at Conseco Fieldhouse where they served several hundred Thanksgiving meals to local men, women and children in need during the holiday season.
With no players allowed to partake, the Pacers' organization stepped up and put together plenty of "celebrity" chefs to help serve the Thanksgiving dinner with all of the fixings. Several local media members answered the call along with the coaches and former players to make sure the food lines didn't stop moving.
Coach Frank Vogel was on turkey duty for the first shift, appearing to enjoy his time as much as anyone else in the building. No surprise there. Vogel was joined by his wife Jennifer and mentioned how much he appreciates the Indy community and the chance to give back when he can. Of course, he's primed and ready to start actually coaching as he and his staff continue to prepare and scout but can't get too detailed since they don't know exactly what the roster will look like when it is time to play again.
Vogel was eventually relieved by former Pacers' center Rik Smits who you see pictured with sharp-shooter (yes, present tense intended) Billy Keller. Smits checked in to the turkey station at 7'4", with the chef's hat 8 feet and kept things rolling.
It was nice to see all of the folks from PS&E who make the Pacers games go (well, except for the players who actually play in the games) and they all seemed to be excited for the event doing whatever was needed with plenty of energy. I'm sure part of the enjoyment of doing these community service events is having something to focus on and get done during the lockout while of course helping those less fortunate during these rough economic times.
Chris Denari has that positive-you-gotta-love-this-guy gene much like Vogel. As you might expect, he's dying for the lockout to end but talked about all of the positives he's taking away from the extra time. He loves the college game and is getting to call some games for the Big Ten Network which also allows him to do something else he loves -- game prep for teams he doesn't know well. The free time will also allow him to check out his alma mater Wabash play in a playoff game this weekend in Crawfordsville.
Earlier I said there were no players allowed in Conseco Fieldhouse for the event which isn't entirely true. Tamika Catchings is a major league player and she did her part to help out, serving food between rehab and workout sessions. The Fever phenom misses the NBA just like us and is really looking forward to seeing how the Pacers do when they finally get back on the court. Catchings knows George Hill quite well and just raved about G3 and what he can bring to the Pacers on and off the court.
Monday wasn't a day for basketball, though. Instead it was a chance to appreciate what an NBA basketball team can offer a community like Indianapolis even when they aren't playing games.