DISCLAIMER - If you don't like sports, this post won't do anything for you.
We have a saying in Indiana that "In 49 states, it's just basketball, but this is Indiana."
We do love our basketball in Indiana, and we do pride ourselves on understanding the game and having a passion for it. I would suspect it is very similar to a Minnesotan and their hockey, or a Brazilian with their soccer.
Last night, something took place that I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on. The Indiana Pacers took on the Miami Heat in a game 4 of a best of 7 series. The Pacers were down in the series 2-1, so a loss to the Heat would mean the Pacers would be down 3-1, virtually impossible for any team to come back from.
So for the Pacers, last night was "do or die" "backs against the wall" basketball.
And what took place last night was disgusting basketball. I don't mean "non-aesthetically pleasing" I mean a dumpster fire.
I say this not as a fan upset that we lost (I really don't care all that much at the end of the day, if the Pacers lose to the Heat)...I've seen a lot of losses, and this was the worst, most pathetic loss in my 34 years of watching and participating in sports. This was so bad, it was epically bad.
The Pacers played with no effort
The Pacers played sloppy, almost like they didn't care
The Pacers were pouty and conveyed a sorrow for themselves
The Pacers were dominated early in the game, and instead of trying to fight back, just rolled over even further
Then, worst of all, the Pacers, following the game, blamed the officials for the loss.
I started the game hoping the Pacers would win, but after my brothers and I turned the game off at the end of the third quarter, I was glad the Miami Heat were winning, because they deserved it and we did not.
Here's why I was raise this epic failure to bring effort, intensity, energy, etc. - because you might lament this fact, but a lot of young people look up to these guys. A lot of kids and teenagers learn their life lessons through watching our sports heroes perform on (and off) the court.
If pro baseball player so and so chews tobacco, little johnny wants to too
If pro football player so and so takes steroids, little johnny wants to too
If pro football player so and so beats on his wife or is arrested for a DUI, little johnny wants to too
And if pro basketball player plays with intensity and effort and class in the face of adversity, little johnny will want to become a person who is tough and classy in the face of adversity as well.
Sports teach kids life lessons, like it or not, and so last night, at least in the area I live, mattered.
The Pacers' game was so disgusting because they had every reason in the world to play hard, they had every reason in the world to play with intensity and effort, they had every reason to step up in the face of adversity, and they just flat out quit. Any Indiana fan knows you are going to have bad shooting nights, nights where the other team's shots are falling, etc. but last night was just a failure to care, and that was sickening to watch, especially knowing how many youngsters look up to our Pacers.
...and then to blame the refs!
What does that tell a kid about life?
If you experience difficulty in life - blame someone else?
If you don't work hard - blame someone else?
If you don't do your job - blame someone else?
It was gross to watch, and unless the Pacers come out with a completely different attitude, then the way the Pacers have been trending throughout these past few months, but especially last night, just turned me into the latest fan of the Miami Heat, a team who DOES play hard and wants to win, and a team that (at least on the court) sends the right message about how to approach life and adversity to its young fans - life requires intensity, desire, hard work, and effort.