Is racism root of Pacers’ poor attendance?
by Bob Kravitz, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — This was in 1999-2000, back before Indianapolis became a racist town. The Indiana Pacers, playing their first season at Conseco Fieldhouse, sold out every game.
This was in 2004-05, the season of The Brawl, but still well before Indy turned virulently racist. The Pacers averaged 16,994 fans per game and had more than 13,000 full season ticket holders or season-ticket-holder equivalents.
This was in 2008, before Indy’s latent, simmering racism reared its ugly head. The city, and the state, helped elect Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, the first time Indiana had gone for a Democratic presidential nominee in decades.
Since then, we’ve become a bunch of hood-wearing, cross-burning racists who simply won’t show up to Pacers games because we don’t like black people. Or so it has been suggested by Colin Cowherd, an ESPN talk-show host who is generally the smartest guy out there and has always been extraordinarily kind to me. (So I’ll repay his kindness by trashing his argument. Shows you what kind of guy I am.)
“You’re holding an organization to a standard that happens because of race,” he said the other day on his nationally broadcast show. “There’s no other explanation why people don’t go to Pacers games.”
Well, actually, there is.
There are a couple of reasons.
Here’s the big one: The NBA season-ticket-buying culture in Indianapolis is dead, at least for now. That has nothing to do with race. That has everything to do with six years of really bad basketball.
Here’s what Colin doesn’t quite get as he watches from afar in Bristol, Conn. After that 2004-05 season, pro basketball died here in Indianapolis. Ron Artest went crazy. Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley and others got in trouble. The team made the playoffs, but it was an unlikable team, and the Pacers were forced to trade off all those players in order to change the culture.
The result was five or six years of nice guys who couldn’t play a lick of basketball.
After having the 17th best attendance in the league in 2004-05 — and keep in mind, with the fieldhouse’s capacity, the best the Pacers can … [For more on Is racism root of Indiana Pacers' poor attendance?, click here.]