They hate them. They hate everything about this small-market crew from Cornrows Central. They don't put them on the national networks; they don't put them high enough in the power rankings; they're even drawing up odds of which teams will be losing on purpose to get Indy in the playoffs? Don't believe me? Ask John Hollinger yourself:
John Hollinger: Interesting playoff tanking situation emerging between Atlanta and Orlando--I imagine both greatly prefer facing Indy to facing Boston.
Everyone's disrespecting the Indiana Pacers. Closing in on 40 wins? Humbug. Wins against just about every top team in the league? Trivial. Playoff threat? Please, give me the vets; give me the superstars.
Pacer hate, Pacer disrespect, Pacer inconsequentialism (yep, made it up) is all the rage, and Pacer fans hate every bit of it, right? How about...........no? How about disrespect breeds insatiable passion, the charming underdog story, the cliche but enormously popular "us against the world" war cry.
We pretend to hate the hate, but it's often what drives fandom, especially in small-markets. We need the disrespect, it feeds the frenzy. We want to complain because it makes the winning experience all the more gratifying.
This doesn't just apply to fans, either. Players/teams often play the disrespect card one day, then play the "we like to be under the radar" card the next. It's the best of both worlds, one gets all the built-in motivational tactics associated with being "neglected," then reigns supreme on his or her doubters when the neglected trumps its presumed superiors.
Keep that in mind, Pacer nation. The next time Indy doesn't fly as high in the power rankings as you'd like; the next time Golden St. or the Utah Jazz are on TNT, and the Pacers are barely scrounging up NBA TV games against rival Chicago; the next time media soothsayers omit Indy from their much balleyhooed projections, just remember it's all part of the plan. The same plan that's captivated the sporting landscape since its inception: Winning when you're expected to win reverberates with...well...with no one, cause the expectation was already established. Winning when you're supposed to be the chump reverberates with...well...everyone as all the doubters and uninformed prognosticators are forced to explain their blunders away.
Embrace the hate. Then embrace the inevitable Blue-and-Gold fire-breathing redemption that ensues.