Brewer's Radio Legend Grows with 'Sir, I Gotta Go'

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 4 - Before playing a game in a Pacers uniform, second-round pick Jamison Brewer has become a legend in his new hometown - without his knowledge.

During a brief break from practice during the team's summer league trip to Boston in July, Brewer was scheduled to do an interview with Mark Patrick, host of the popular ''Mark Patrick on Sports'' talk show on WNDE-AM 1260 in Indianapolis. But time was running unexpectedly short, and Brewer was being summoned back to the court by the coaching staff while he was still talking to Patrick on a cell phone.

It was then that the legend was born. Brewer simply cut short the interview by saying, ''Sir, I gotta go,'' handed the phone to Media Relations Manager Jeff McCoy, and ran back to the court.

The phrase has become the signature of Patrick's program, uttered at the end of virtually every call, and more than a few interviews.

''It was the first time I'd ever talked to him,'' Patrick said. ''He was doing a good job, though you could tell he hadn't done a lot of radio interviews. We were kind of getting to know him a little bit. Then I asked him a bit of a difficult question about adjusting his play to the level of the NBA. He started to answer, and then he just dropped the 'Sir, I gotta go.'

''I just thought it was so funny, the abruptness of it and the fact it was heartfelt. You could hear the emotion in his voice. He had no time for what we were doing, and I thought that captured the essence of the show. Then the next listener called in, and when he was done he said, 'Sir, I gotta go,' and it hasn't stopped since.''

Asked to recount his version of the birth of the legend, however, Brewer came up empty. He couldn't remember the interview, its sudden end, or what he said.

''I didn't even know anything about that, to tell you the truth,'' he said. ''I don't even know the station.''

He did, however, ask what time the show was on and which station so he could check it out in the car on his way back from practice. And so, in perhaps the most unexpected way, the ''Sir, I gotta go'' legend has added yet another listener to Patrick's audience.

O'NEAL TRIMS DOWN AFTER BULKING UP

After getting his weight up above 250 pounds heading into the Goodwill Games last month in Australia, Jermaine O'Neal decided to slim back down. He reported to camp weighing 242, still 12 pounds heavier than a year ago.

''I told coach (Isiah) Thomas the other day that I never thought, at 22, I'd be telling him I had to go on a diet,'' O'Neal said. ''I was 250 in Australia, and when I got back I was running in Atlanta with some guys like (Charles) Oakley, (Kevin) Willis, Theo Ratliff and some of those guys, and I was getting tired. And I got tired in some of the fourth quarters in Australia.

''I couldn't figure out why I was getting tired because I was training the entire summer. It boiled down to my weight. I was too heavy. I can't play at 250. I can be real strong, real quick and real powerful at 240, though.''

O'Neal was second on the team in both scoring (13.2) and rebounding (7.2) while leading the way with 16 blocked shots as the U.S. won the gold medal.

TO THOMAS, READING IS FUNDAMENTAL

If Thomas has his way, the Pacers will field a team of players who think like Peyton Manning. The second-year coach is spending time in camp on showing the younger players the proper way to read situations both offensively and defensively, as he builds toward a read-and-react type of team.

''The way I think the game should be played is you read and you react to that defender,'' he said. ''Even though you may possess the skill to overpower that defender, that doesn't necessarily mean you're making the correct read. What I will be stressing in training camp for all of these guys is to read better, to learn your reads.

''I don't know how many of you are football fans but when you hear those guys talk, that's what they're talking about. You constantly hear Peyton Manning say he made the right read, or (the receiver) made the right cut. Basketball's the same way. And our young guys last year, where they may have been highly skilled, they couldn't exercise those skills because they couldn't make the correct reads. They didn't know what they were seeing.''

NOTEWORTHY . . .

One of the highlights of camp came after Thursday evening's practice, the ''Rookie Show.'' Veterans traditionally require the rookies to stage an evening of song and dance during camp. This year, veteran ringleader opened the usually private proceedings to the media . . . Thomas said he plans to experiment with various zone defensive principles, and offensive counters, during the preseason, but has not addressed them yet. . . . Not only did the Pacers enter camp injury-free for the first time in years, they've stayed that way through six practices. ''Everybody's a little sore,'' said Thomas, ''but they're healthy.'' . . . Jeff Foster had an interesting way of explaining how the center position is viewed in the current system. ''Depending on who's out there, there's really no definition of who's a center and who's a power forward,'' he said. ''The only way you an kind of tell is by who guards the other team's center. If I'm guarding the center, then I'm the center. If I'm guarding the power forward, then I'm the power forward. It doesn't really matter. I guess that's just for people to figure out on their own.''