More Than Meets the Eye: The Fall of the Indiana Pacers

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Friday, May 30, 2014 with No comments
"..........This is bad comedy!"

Throughout life images, scenes that we see, view, hold precious, grow with us, mature in a way that some we take with us on our dying days.  There are times when these images be it something in a work of fiction or in the realm of fact help mold us, shape our way of thinking and the way that we look at the world around us.  Often those images can be applied to real life situations, reminding us of things that we see in the every day world, times, places, and people that we interact with on a daily basis.  Watching the ascension of the 2014 incarnation of the Indiana Pacers took me back to my youth, a youth where innocent mornings were spent watching cartoons and the evenings were spent watching Sir Charles Barkley scorch the court with my father.  During a life time of images one stands out when it comes to this team, an image of one of the most popular cartoons of its time and the fate of a character that enjoyed the same career arc as these Pacers.

The voice was unmistakable, as close to hissing as one can come.  A character so conniving that his superior Megatron kept him around so that a watchful eye would also be in place; keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.  He was the greatest of the great, the fastest of the fast and the most boastful of them all and his one singular goal was to become what he perceived as "the man" no matter the cost.  It was his eternal quest for power that was ultimately his undoing as he under-estimated his superior time after time, taking advantage of his worth and not fully realizing what his true place was.  His name was Starscream!!!!

This season's Pacers team is a reflection of said character.  Perhaps it was too much praise heaped upon them too soon or perhaps most were fooled by a false profit who idolizes the real number 24.  It seems as if the wool was pulled over the eyes of the foolish who wanted to believe so desperately that yes it was the Pacers time to dethrone the two time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat.  The proverbial jig is up as the Pacers have suffered yet again a devastating playoff loss at the hands of the Heat and many are now left scratching their heads; how could this happen again; how could a team that seemed destined for greatness be so fractured at it's end?  The 2014 NBA Finals were supposed to be the Pacers coronation but we've seen coronations go tragically wrong before.

The image is so clear that I can view it behind my closed eyes a thousand times, every little detail, from the torches, to the trumpets to the statues of warriors past.  The visuals will remain until my dying breath.  After a millennia filled with battles and countless losses it was Starscream's greatest moment, finally ascending to the mountain top but sadly a tragic event would occur changing the course of history forever.  It was in that moment that the scheming, conniving ways, and thirst for power all intersected.

"As Megatron has, how shall we say.....departed"

Since combining their talents in Miami in 2010, the 2014 Miami Heat roster was at its weakest and the Indiana Pacers smelled blood.  Having suffered a game 7 loss in Miami last season, the Pacers vowed that this season would be different as their goal was to secure game 7 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in a potential showdown with the Heat.....mission accomplished.  The fatal mistake that the Pacers committed was underestimating the current champs.  Despite securing a potential game 7 at home, the series never culminated there because of sheer arrogance.  The Pacers called out the Heat all season long, akin to the younger brother attempting to receive attention from the older brother, banging on the door that the Heat refused to open all the while not realizing that the door had to be kicked down, the Heat had to become a casualty of war.  Despite the Pacers boasts, the Heat remained in a position of power, so much so that the Pacers made moves during the regular season that would be their undoing, the first being the acquisition of Evan Turner and departure of veteran presence Danny Granger and the other being the latest failure of Andrew Bynum.  They were moves made of panic and fear and those moves were at the threshold of the Pacers' eventual fall from grace.   When you have an advantage over your opponent show no respect, end the conflict, sadly the Pacers failed to do so.

There he stood at his coronation, stunningly caped and wearing a glistening crown.  Having dispatched his superior in what seemed like mere moments earlier, he basked in the glory of his admirers, reveling in the glow of knowing that he'd made it but ironically suffered from the same mistake of the Pacers, underestimating his opponent and not fully ending the conflict for his superior was still alive and well, stronger than ever before and hungry for revenge.  Just as he was about to state his decree to his followers, the once thought fallen opponent arrived to exact his revenge.

"Megatron, is that you......."

As quickly as he claimed the throne, he was assassinated by his superior.  The desire that fueled him  to be known as the best, the desire that caused him to turn on his superior was the same desire that decided the fate of his life in a negative manner.  In a display of power so strong his superior disintegrated him with a single electric blast, leaving nothing behind but the dust of his prideful understudy and the crown that belonged to the prideful fallen king.  The Once and Future King had returned and so have the two time defending NBA Champion.  In their brightest moment, a series with home-court advantage against their rivals, the Indiana Pacers were at their coronation.

The last two seasons the Pacers had suffered losses in 6 and 7 games against the Heat but this season it was akin to the assassination above.  The Heat had reached their breaking point with the boasting of the cocky Pacers and handled them accordingly.  Last season as the two franchises squared off, there was a mutual respect however this season the Heat were on a seek and destroy mission.  The Heat displayed the fire and fortitude that was expected from the Pacers yet they favored the opposite direction of cowardice and finger pointing.  Despite stating that they wanted to be the best, the Pacers failed to put in the work to do so in forgetting to complete the deal.

Last off-season was supposed to be one of growth for the Pacers, it was a time where they seemingly transformed from the Hunters to the Hunted but in the end they were nothing but false prophets who purpose was in reality to be another stepping stone.  An image that will remain in the minds of many as one of the great teams that had a great year but wasn't good enough to compete for the NBA Championship.  An image that will remind some of pain and for others the image will be the remembrance hubris and foolishness and as the Heat march to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance they will know back at their fallen opponent and know that this time, there was no doubt left about the job that was just done.  The minds and souls of the false prophets had just been eradicated and all that was left behind was the dust of their adversaries and just as LeBron James had to do after losing in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, the Pacers must look in the mirror and point the finger of defeat at themselves.  With their failure now complete, the genesis of said failure will resemble something that was more than meets the eye.

Dedicated to Adam