INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—The NBA draft is just around the corner. Having finished the 2011-2012 season with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers enjoyed their first playoff series in seven years. Not bad for a team with the second-worst game attendance in the NBA. It was seven years ago when Pacer fans last felt this good.
“The Pacers were one of the most exciting teams in the NBA,” said Kim Donahue, a marketing lecturer with the IU Kelley School of Business. “What was so special about the Indiana Pacers was not just the excitement of winning or the development of the now copyrighted phrase ‘BOOM BABY!’, it was that this was our team.”
“They belonged to us. We had watched them grow, mature, develop and come together as a team. Then, as well documented, it all came apart. Ticket sales, TV ratings, merchandise sales and advertising revenue all took a nosedive.”
A 2004 on-court brawl in Detroit and the retirement of star Reggie Miller the following year sent fans adrift. Enter the 2011-2012 NBA season—a season that nearly didn’t happen due to a partial lockout. Fans started off lukewarm.
“Then something strange happened,” explained Donahue. “The Pacers started winning. And they won some more. And more. And more. All of sudden, we are in the playoffs!”
“Did you notice how my wording just changed?” continued Donahue with a smile. “For about a decade we have been talking about ‘they (the Pacers)’ and now it is about ‘we.’ Sure, some of that change is accounted for from fair-weather fans just jumping on a winning bandwagon, but it’s more than that now. This team consists of individuals that we again are watching grow, mature, develop and come together.”
Donahue believes the playoff loss will be better for the Pacers in the long run.
“With a win, we would be cheering for a team we really don’t know—a team we claim ownership to due to geographic location. The win would have been a little hollow because we would have felt guilty since we had become fair-weathered fans,” said Donahue, a life-long sports fan.
“But now the Pacers are back on our horizon. We are starting to get to know the players. Who’s likely to foul out? Who’s got the gumption? Who can shoot the threes? Just like [then-Pacers] Dale Davis, Mark Jackson and, of course, Reggie Miller of the ‘90s, we have today’s David West, IUPUI’s own George Hill and Danny Grainger. This playoff run gave us the opportunity to get to know this team and we will be much more vested in their entire season next season come November. Those empty seats are going to be filled. The new old Pacers are back!”
Kim Donahue can be available to the media Monday, June 4 in the morning and afternoon. Please contact Sally Winter in Kelley Indianapolis External Affairs at (317) 274-6856 or by cell (317) 308-8235 to set up an interview.