Pacers feel right at home in Indianapolis
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis – After the Indiana Pacers land returning home from a road trip, a handful of players will stop at Waffle House for a late-night, early-morning meal.
All-Star forward Paul George likes his hash browns “covered.”
“Just give me cheese, and I’m fine with that,” he said.
Center Roy Hibbert orders his hash browns “smothered, covered and chunked,” a concoction of sautéed onions, cheese and ham for those uninitiated to the greasy spoon’s delicacy.
“But don’t tell my nutritionist,” Hibbert pleaded.
The Pacers are showing everyone they’re very much competitive with the Miami Heat with the series tied 2-2 going into tonight’s Game 5 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT), and the players are showing the people of Indianapolis they’re neighbors. Yes, you’ll see them at Waffle House and you might find a few after a home game at the Steak and Shake a few blocks from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“They do the stuff most of the stuff normal people do, and they act very normal,” Pacers president Donnie Walsh told USA TODAY Sports. “What makes this team special for me is that they’re all good guys, they’re all committed to basketball, they all want to win and they all go out and play hard.”
George, 23, made his first All-Star team this season and his playoff performances – a two-way player – cemented that selection. Hibbert, with his interior dominance, is now considered one of the best centers in the league. Forward David West scores, rebounds and doesn’t give any ground inside. George Hill is a steady, scoring point guard, and Lance Stephenson is erratic, supremely confident and a solid defender.
“We’re a team,” Hibbert said. “We love each other. We respect each other and we want to see everybody do well. Everybody brought a different piece to the game.”
It has been a celebratory season for Indiana after a sobering start – losing All-Star Danny Granger for the season with an injured left knee. His absence had unintended yet profound consequences for the Pacers and George.
George emerged as a star and is on the verge of becoming a superstar, going head-to-head with Miami’s LeBron James and earning James’ … [For more on Pacers feel right at home in Indianapolis, click here.]