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Indiana Pacers: A Plea On Behalf of Paul George

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Here's to hoping the Indiana Pacers don't willingly sink to the low of lows in the wake of Paul George's injury.

Ethan Miller

So, where were you the night U.S.A. Basketball turned into a mature-audience affair?

Me? Somewhat fittingly, I was watching the gorrific spectacle, Gladiator, for something like the 137th time on my living room couch. I'd purposefully put my phone away as part of a self-imposed Twitter ban (because we can't have something as silly as Twitter disrupting the sacred "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius..." speech, now can we?)

It wasn't until Saturday morning, when I saw the following text from a friend: "The Pacers are done!" that I knew something was up.

As I deftly eluded the onslaught of videos, GIF, and photos showing PG's leg snap in half like a No. 2 pencil, I slowly started to uncover the details of the injury. Words no person ever wishes to see began filling my screen: horrific, hushed, stretcher, carted off, stanchion, tibia, fibula, compound fracture, 12-18 months, grown men doubling over, grown men sobbing, Mayweather visits... and on and on.

Amid all the shock, it was that text that caught my attention most: "The Pacers are done!"

From a championship standpoint, yes, they are. The 2014-2015 season will mostly likely cross between a "good job, good effort" feel-good piece, and a "Travis Best: A Dribbling Story" tragedy.

Whatever the prospect, this admirer makes only one request of the powers that be: say no thanks to the tank.

Avoid it like a cold bowl of mush. Or Mexican sushi. Resist. For the sake of the franchise, the fans, and most importantly, for Paul George.

Let me be clear, such a world does exist where a tank job would be acceptable. Let's call it The Organic Tank, in which the absences of Lance Stephenson and Paul George take the Blue and Gold from Gene Hackman in Hoosiers to Gene Hackman in The Replacements.

But willful, gut-it-like-a-Sixer tanking?

Can I get a hell no?

Imagine you've been gifted the perfect career: a job you love that pays well, coworkers you trust like family, advancement, access, success, you name it. Imagine a freak accident knocks you out of commission for a substantial period of time, and when you go back to work, your once stable environment is gone, replaced by new faces and new expectations. Instead of progress and results, you're showered with buzzwords like "future," "potential," and musings on what "could be." Sounds like every start-up ever made, and the perfect way to turn a "vet" into a disgruntled employee.

The tank will happen at some point. Or maybe I should say the "faux" tank. In two years, the bloated contracts of Roy Hibbert and David West will expire. George Hill's will come off the books shortly thereafter. If the championship window's still closed by then, the Pacers will have an abundance of capspace at their disposal to retool. Except, they'll be doing it at Paul George's recovery peak (fingers crossed), rather than when he's most vulnerable.

In the meantime, respect the gauntlet PG is now forced to maneuver. His season's already lost; his game and confidence may never be the same. Must he lose the structure that surrounds him, too?