BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
The Indiana Pacers have talked the talk and when the smoked cleared they were not equipped to walk the walk. In short, the Pacers have been exposed for the soft team they are and it was by the very team they thought they were punking.
The Pacers had this idea that they would bully their way past the superior talent of the Miami Heat and into the Eastern Conference Finals. Their idea would have been genius if they were the Detroit Pistons or Boston Celtics of the early 80s, but they are not.
Or perhaps the plan would have been successful if they were equipped with someone who was built to play that role, but they are not.
Rule number one in playing a tough guy is you have to be a TOUGH GUY.
It is kind of a necessary ingredient to be taken seriously. Now respectfully speaking Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, and Tyler Hansbourgh are "I'm going to go get" guys not the guys "you go get" for a fight.
Their attempt to intimidate was tragically pathetic and resulted in an epic fail as they would finally succumb in six games to the Miami Heat. What made this so preposterous is how bad Indiana actually failed.
Beginning with Danny Granger’s attempting to get into the head of LeBron James only to receive the same treatment game in and game out by James was hilarious. Granger’s “wolfing” did nothing more than bring light to just how poorly he was playing in the series. The forward shot a paltry 38 percent on 29 of 77 shooting.
This is the epitome of writing a check your a** can’t cash. In between missing shots Granger found a way to be abused by the league MVP, who dropped 40 points in game five. With this the Louisiana native found it befitting to play the role of futile enforcer.
Then Roy Hibbert, who unlike Granger played well, was just as guilty of falsifying the tough guy role. His media battles cries of “we will be ready” and “they are responding to our physical play” were classic.
The Pacers may have even had a chance, but once Heat forward Udonis Haslem Hong Kong Phooey karate chopped Hansbrough, the jig was up.
We all smiled a little, except Charles Barkley, when Haslem chopped down Hansbrough. It was the Miami Heat’s way of saying enough with the nonsense, and we all appreciated it immensely. The banter coming from Indiana was not only un-basketball related it was comical.
Physical, even borderline cheap, basketball is fine and encouraged. However, annoying and agitating basketball is not. Constant talking about how tough you are while laying down brick after brick and getting elbow after elbow is just asinine.
The sad part about this game plan was if the Pacers just played basketball they would have remained competitive. If the focused remained on playing their game and not whining about a lack of respect, we all would not have known they were shook to death.
Instead it became obvious to everyone watching they were scarred at the thought of playing the Heat and once Miami bucked back the Pacers folded, which prompted one of the league’s all-time tough guys to speak up.
One of the game’s most notorious trash talkers called his team soft, PUBLICLY. Larry Bird announced to the world what we already knew the Pacers were sunk, and they have no one to blame but themselves.
Indiana had a chance to push the series to a seventh game, if they had just balled. The Pacers were a good team all season that played aggressive on the offensive end. This led to the group finishing third in the league in free-throw attempts. The team also remained a strong defensive unit that held clubs to the sixth worst field goal percentage in the league.
This is who they were and this is who they should have been.
Granger should have spent less time talking and more time driving. Eventually Granger’s body gave in and he was hobbled in game six when Indiana needed him most. Eventually Hibbert could not keep up the façade and had very little left in the tank when Indiana needed him most in game six.
Meanwhile, Wade and James continued to laugh at the Pacers “game”. Wade gave Granger a warning in game four that he was going to send his “Luca Brasi” to the party. Haslem upon arrival separated the real from the fake.
In the end no one believed the Pacers were who they claimed to be and sadly they lost an opportunity to announce to the world who they really were.