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Pendergraph’s pregame ritual: ‘I just snap’
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On April 10, 2013 @ 9:00 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Zak Keefer, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — The ritual stems as much from Jeff Pendergraph’s inkling for improvisation as it does rehearsed choreography. Most nights, he admits, he hasn’t a clue what he’s about to do.
You’ve seen it — the Pacers circling around Pendergraph, the third-year reserve forward, while he bounces and dances and screams in the final moments before tip-off. The idea? His energy becomes their energy.
“As soon as everyone gets around me, I just snap,” said Pendergraph.
So, what exactly is it that he shouts?
“I can’t even tell you. I don’t even know myself.”
There are two components to the latest version of the Pacers’ pregame routine. After each starter is introduced, they’re quickly greeted by Pendergraph on the court. There, they exchange a series of customized handshakes, chest bumps and choreographed leaping kicks.
Then there’s the group portion, when all eyes turn to Pendergraph. It’s then he puts on a show.
“We’re getting ready to go out and battle,” forward Paul George said. “And it’s a fun way to ease the tension.”
Or, as George Hill said, “It’s just boys being boys.”
In the pantheon of NBA pregame rituals — it seems like every team has their own version these days — Pendergraph’s Pacers routine will fail to gain the notoriety of some of the more famous acts. It isn’t quite Shaquille O’Neal bowling over the Phoenix Suns or LeBron James gathering his then-Cleveland Cavalier teammates together for a family portrait.
Or, of course, the most renowned in Pacers’ franchise history: Reggie Miller playfully shouting at the top of his lungs at David Benner, the team’s media relations director. (Or, on the topic of Miller, the well-schemed dance between him and fellow Pacer turned NBA referee Haywood Workman.)
Everyone does it different. Kevin Garnett bangs his bald head against the padded portion of the goal post. Tim Duncan corals the basketball beneath his chin. Vince Carter leaps up to the net and pulls his head above the rim. James famously tosses chalk in the air above the scorer’s table.
Pendergraph’s routine has become ritual for these Pacers. It’s been with them for the better … [For more on Jeff Pendergraph's wild Pacers pregame ritual: 'I just snap', click here.]
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