“Dad, who’s that?” Your now twelve-year-old son begins to ask you as you watch the Pacers latest journey towards the eighth seed begin in 2039. You wonder how to answer, as the man pictured on your interactive virtual reality headsets is pineapple head himself, Myles Turner. Another wasted treasure trove of talent that the Pacers couldn’t get a supporting cast around because they were too “proud” to tank, too “cheap” to buy any big name players (and let’s face it, who comes to play in Indiana willingly?), and too stubborn to change their ways.
As you ponder how you will answer this question, you remember another supporting cast-less, beloved member of the Indiana Pacers from the not so distant past, who won several championships. Of course, there is one caveat, none of those championships were for the Pacers, they were for the historic and ring-heavy Lakers, who, let’s face it, won’t even remember this player, as he’s nowhere near the greatest player they’ve ever had, but he’s probably ours. You can picture his face, but not his name. He had two first names, you think. It finally hits you after several minutes of long, critical thinking about the years we wasted his talent, much like we wasted Myles’. George Paul, you remember him so well because he had a funny name and they used to call him “G-P One Three”.
You finally begin explaining to your son just who that fellow he saw was when you remember a time. A time before mediocrity. A time before it was “good enough” to get swept every year in the first round because your team was too “proud to tank”, and a time before you felt guilty for being that fan who was so happy and proud that his team had too much pride to succumb to that. Yeah, how’d that work out?
That time you started to remember was 2000. The year the Pacers made the finals, but alas, they were pretty much destroyed. They didn’t have the talent (imagine that) to deal with some center at the time nicknamed “The Diesel” and are widely considered one of the worst teams to ever make the finals (probably top ten, if we’re being honest). The last time the Pacers came close to the Finals was that time they played the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Ah, conferences. You remember those well. The way they separate the league into two halves is rather pointless nowadays, but you’re just happy your beloved Pacers won’t tank, and can at least still get the 8th seed.
You turn to answer your son, “His name was Myles Turner. And he was nobody, at least, not for us.”