Feb. 2011: Destination Unknown Indiana Pacers blog with Mark Boyle
Why would anyone want to be around me?
Feb. 28, 2011
I had company during Sunday’s game with Phoenix.
A while back, the Pacers helped me put together a package for an auction during the annual Youth Links charity event. Youth Links raises a lot of money for kids, and we donated an afternoon with Yours Truly. Why anyone would want to spend a day with me is a bit hard for me to comprehend – half the time, I don’t even want to spend the day with me – but Squier and Peggy Neal were a delight to be around. The Neals were very
UPDATE: Kevin Lee points out that we only played 50 games during the lockout year of 1998-1999, so it turns out that I haven’t reached my 2,000th Pacer broadcast just yet. I’ll hit that number when the Pacers play Detroit at Conseco Fieldhouse March 30th.
Reggie Miller got a Bentley when he retired. I’m hoping to coax a box of Cohibas out of the Pacers when I get to 2,000.
Feb. 26, 2011
I’ve been around the NBA long enough now that there aren’t too many guys that have broadcast more games than I have. The reason I bring this up is that Kevin Lee brought it to my attention that Ralph Lawler, who has been with the Los Angeles Clippers for centuries, broadcast his 2,500th game Saturday night when the Clippers played Boston. Kevin wondered when I would hit 2,000, and I knew it was coming this season, so I decided to pinpoint the date.
I count regular season and playoff games in this equation. I must admit that I was tempted to include pre-season games and count them double, but in the end concluded that it seemed fair to only include games that actually count. I’ve been here 22 full seasons, and have broadcast every game that the Pacers have played over that period of time, with the exception of the three that I missed when my mom passed away a few years back. So here’s the math:
21 full seasons x 82 games = 1722 games
1 seasons x 79 games = 79 games
That’s 1801 regular season games. The Pacers have played 155 post season games during my years here, which meant that I had done 1,956 games entering this season, leaving me 44 short going into the 2010-2011 season. And after looking at the schedule I discovered two things.
One, my 2000th game passed without my even knowing it. Guess there won’t be any ticker tape or heartfelt speeches to look forward to. Two, my 2000th game was the Pacers loss in Chicago January 29th.
In other words, my 2000th game with the Pacers was the same night that Jim O’Brien coached his last game with the franchise.
If I make it to 3,000, I think I’ll give a heads up to whoever is coaching the team then.
Finally, a trip to the White House but the boss was gone
Feb. 23, 2011
Like a trip to the White House, for example.
Dahntay Jones played ball at Duke with a guy that works closely with President Obama, and through that contact we were able to get a private tour before last night's game with the Wizards.
The visit started inauspiciously, at least for Yours Truly. Six of us went, and five of us made it through security without incident. Guess who did not? I do not know why I did not pass muster originally, and I thought it best not to ask too many questions, so I never did find out what dire event from my past made the Secret Service blanch. In the end, though, it was deemed that I was not a major security risk and I was allowed to join the crew inside the White House.
We saw the Oval Office, though we were not actually allowed inside and were permitted only to view it from the doorway, and we also saw the Blue Room, the Red Room, the East Room, the Rose Garden, and the Cabinet Room. Every nook and cranny of this place is full of history, and the entire trip was fascinating and just a little bit humbling. It was an honor to even set foot in the place, though I was a bit disappointed that the President was in Cleveland as I had hoped to share a few of my groundbreaking ideas with him. I suspect the country is no worse off that this didn't happen.
You will note that five other people joined Dahntay on yesterday's excursion, and you might be wondering why none of them were players. From what I understand, Dahntay invited teammates, but none of them opted to make the trip, and one -- who shall remain nameless -- passed on the experience so he could go to lunch at Chipotle.
Turns out that George Bernard Shaw was right. Youth really is wasted on the young.
Even being a fake dad can be rewarding
Feb. 21, 2011
Several years ago, Indianapolis was granted a franchise in the United States Hockey League. This is a Junior A (ages 16-21) league, and its purpose is to develop top-level talent. I worked in that league back in the day when I was barely older than the players and have always admired the dedication these kids display, plus I really enjoy the hockey culture, and to make a long story short several players have ended up living at The Fortress of Solitude while chasing their dream.
In other words, I have been a fake dad for the last several years.
This is not the same as being a real dad. Not even close. These kids are already young men by the time they arrive at The Fortress, and all the billet families really have to do is provide them with room and board and help them stay out of trouble. Still, I do try to provide advice and counsel and the benefit of my experience, but let's face it: anyone exposed to the dark recesses of my troubled mind -- particularly an impressionable teenager -- is at risk.
Last weekend, I took advantage of the All Star Break to head up to Madison -- it surprises you that I head for the snow and cold while everyone else heads for the beach? I didn't think so -- to watch one of our surrogate sons play. Brett Bennett is a goaltender at the University of Wisconsin, and he's a terrific player. He's been drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes and will have a chance to pursue his goal of an NHL career very soon.
But that's not why I admire him.
Brett initially went to Boston University, which has one of the top college hockey programs in America. Alas, It didn't work out for Brett in Boston and he regrouped, spending a year with the Indiana Ice, which is why he was HQ'd at The Fortress of Solitude. He had a great season here, and his play was one of the reasons that the Ice won a national junior championship during his one season here. His play earned him a scholarship to Wisconsin, and while he's played well, it hasn't always gone smoothly.
Now, I'm a generation older than Brett is, and am supposed to have my act together far more than he does. But I'm fairly certain that if I were in Brett's shoes, I would have blamed everyone else for my problems in Boston, I would have thought the USHL beneath me after two years at a big time college program, and I would be mad at the world if I wasn't playing every night as a senior.
Not Brett. He sat the bench Friday night as Wisconsin lost 5-2 to Minnesota. After the game, we got together for dinner and he was his usual upbeat self, expressing optimism that he would get to play Saturday night. Sure enough, he got the call and he was ready. He stopped 28 shots, several of them during a crucial stretch of the second period when Wisconsin was two men short, turning in what the Madison Capital Times labeled "his best effort of the season." And the newspaper wasn't alone; Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves labeled Brett's performance "terrific."
Brett will soon finish his college career and will move on to chase a professional career, which is great. And he'll be graduating in May, which is even better. And while I hope he's learned something from being around me (even if it's just how not to do things), I've learned something from him that, being childless, I didn't know.
Kids can learn from you. Sure they can. But if you pay attention, you can learn just as much from them.
Mason, like Tanter, a master of his craft
Feb. 17, 2011
Mason and Lawrence could not be more dissimilar. Lawrence is white, while Mason is black. Lawrence is older, while Mason is probably somewhere in his 40s. Lawrence is smooth and understated, while Mason is loud and ebullient. But they share one trait that most P.A. guys in our league ï¿½ Iï¿½m talking about guys that rely on nothing but volume, and you know who you are ï¿½ just donï¿½t get.
They connect with their audience.
In Los Angeles, Lawrence is well know and respected by a show biz crowd that appreciates his polished baritone and would think something amiss if he decided not to show up.
In Detroit, the crowd is gritty and considers itself cutting edge hip, and Mason plays to that. Whether it was Masonï¿½s vintage introduction of ï¿½Chauncey B-b-b-b-b-billupsï¿½ during Detroitï¿½s stay at the top of the NBA heap, his elongated ï¿½Deeeeeeeee-troit bas-ket-ballï¿½ when the Pistons were awarded possession, or his welcoming the fans of ï¿½the great state of Meeeeeeeeech-iganï¿½ to another night of hoops, he understands his audience and uses his considerable creativity to tap into their psyche.
No, these guys could not be more different from one another. But both guys are masters of their craft. Vive la difference.
Sloan's departure a loss for the NBA
Feb. 11, 2011
The legendary Utah coach has had his fill, and while I admire him for leaving on his own terms (no surprise there; he is Jerry Sloan, after all) Iï¿½m disappointed that he has decided to leave. There were allusions to not having the necessary energy, and several reports out of Utah indicated that a rift with his best player, Deron Williams, was the catalyst for Sloanï¿½s departure, but Sloan is not one to share such information and the Utah organization is NFL-like in itï¿½s adherence to Omerta, so weï¿½ll likely never know why heï¿½s leaving.
We do know this. Sloan has long been seen as the link between the NBA as it once was and the NBA as it is today. Uncompromising as both a player and a coach, Sloan fit in with the roughneck types that populated the game when he played, and while he didnï¿½t exactly fit with todayï¿½s player, he commanded respect from all precincts and won consistently while adhering to an old school style that has become increasingly uncomfortable for the majority of modern day players.
And if you think Sloan is only admired by those of us that grew up watching Fred and Barney play ball at Bedrock High, think again. Below are just a few of the Tweets offered by contemporary players in the wake of yesterdayï¿½s announcement (the misspelling, improper capitalizations, and various abbreviations were left in because, well, who am I to mess with Twitter?):
ï¿½Give Nothing But Love And Respect To One Of The Greatest Coaches Of All Timeï¿½Jerry Sloan!!!ï¿½ ï¿½ Former Jazz and Current Chicago forward Carlos Boozer
ï¿½We all shld congratulate a Man that cn leave his profession when heï¿½s ready & not b forced out. Coach Sloan was ready 2 enjoy life after basketballï¿½ ï¿½ Miami guard Dwyane Wade
ï¿½Jerry come back!! Coach Sloan will be missedï¿½thanks for all the great years contributed to the game!ï¿½ ï¿½ Detroit guard Ben Gordon
ï¿½I am lucky to have played for coach as long as I did...now we have to move on and play some ballï¿½ ï¿½ Jazz rookie and Brownsburg native Gordon Hayward.
Sloan finishes as the third winningest coach of all time and will be sorely missed. The NBA could do a lot worse than name the Coach of the Year trophy ï¿½ something, by the way, that Sloan never won, further demonstrating that, as a group, those of us that vote for these awards need not apply for MENSA membership anytime soon ï¿½ after one of the great personas our game has seen.
Getting on a roll in Miami
Feb. 8, 2011
Iï¿½ve mentioned my fondness for a good cigar before, and I jumped on the invitation. We spent a couple of hours at this place, buying some cigars, seeing how the tobacco is stored, and watching professional cigar rollers go through their paces.
The guy in this picture is Leo, and heï¿½s been rolling cigars for 53 years. As you can see, I am a willing (if not particularly able) student of this craft. Leo doesnï¿½t speak English, but I did pick out an occasional ï¿½bienï¿½ and even a ï¿½perfectoï¿½ or two as I did the best I could. I smoked the cigar I rolled last night, and all modesty aside, I thought it was pretty good.
Iï¿½m always looking for a new project during the off-season. Two summers ago I worked in a coffee shop to raise money for charity and last summer I walked over 500 miles throughout Indiana on behalf of the Indiana Childrenï¿½s Wish Fund. Iï¿½ve been thinking about driving a cab this summer, but now Iï¿½m having second thoughts.
Think Leo would let me move in with him?
Opponents not impressive but Pacers have been
Feb. 7, 2011
It will be interesting to see how the Pacers do against Miami, which has evolved into a legitimate championship contender after a slow and somewhat embarrassing start.
New Jersey was uneventful, except that I added Sly Fox to my collection of mascot photos. Thatï¿½s 16 down, with 9 ï¿½ including the legendary Boomer ï¿½ to go.
Also, for those of you that havenï¿½t met him, I would like to introduce you to our TV guy, Chris Denari. Or, as I like to call him, Ward Cleaver.
Someone's missing from Cavs' Wall of Fame
Feb. 3, 2011
Mark Price? Check. Brad Daugherty. Check? Bingo Smith? Check. Austin Carr? Check.
The artwork is superb, the graphics sparse but appropriately respectful, and all of the Cav greats are given the proper homage.
Well, almost all of them. The greatest player in Clevelandï¿½s history is nowhere to be seen on this wall. No picture, no jersey, no mention at all of anything he did to push the franchise to a position of glory never before seen in their four decades of existence.
LeBron James must have done something to make them really angry.