Q&A with Herb Simon
June 19, 2013
During the 2012-13 season, the Pacers won their first Central Division title in nine years, pushed the Miami Heat to seven games of the Eastern Conference Finals and turned the corner with the fan base. Home attendance increased by over 1,000 per game during the regular season, and all nine home playoff games were sold out. Ticket renewals for next season were above 90 percent. With their tremendous postseason run, nearly every game was televised nationally, thus reaching a broader audience and exposing basketball fans to the Pacers’ brand and personalities.
Already, there are high hopes for next season. The starting core is expected to remain intact and the team is encouraged by Danny Granger’s progress. He missed all but five games because of a left knee injury. In the locker room after losing Game 7 in Miami, the team was fired up, motivated and excited for what’s to come this fall. During exit interviews, there was a passionate light in many of the players' eyes showing just how eager they were to get back out there.
As the Pacers made their playoff push, team owner Herb Simon could be seen in his usual seat each game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse – in the northeast corner and sporting his gold t-shirt. I recently talked with Mr. Simon to get his take on the season and to discuss what’s to come.
Q. How did you feel about this past season, especially with Danny Granger essentially being out all year?
A. “Obviously we are very pleased but not satisfied. We wanted to go further. We are very, very pleased with the progress we made. We sorely missed [Danny] Granger this year and we’re looking forward to him coming back next year.”
Q. In Granger’s absence, we saw many players make tremendous strides, particularly Paul George and Lance Stephenson – both from the 2010 draft. What did you see from them on the court and also how they matured as players?
A. “Well, that’s what made it so enjoyable this year, to see the progress both of them have made. A lot of players on the team have made great progress. That’s what the team is all about. Being in the right position at the right time and having an opportunity to display your talents. I think that goes along with the teamwork and the feeling of team that we have as a group.”
Q. What do you make about the job Frank Vogel has done as coach? He seems to have been just what the team needed and has taken them further in the playoffs each year.
A. “We’re very pleased with Coach Vogel and we just love the way he’s handling the team. He’s growing with the team and he’s got this great attitude.”
Q. With the success of the team this season, did you get any interesting feedback or reactions from other owners?
A. “It’s remarkable how many people were sort of rooting for us. I got calls from all over the world about this run. And then some of the others, I don’t want to say all of them because I’m sure some people wanted the other team, but we got a lot of positive feedback.”
Q. Do you have a timeline for the possibility of Larry Bird returning as president and when that situation might be handled?
A. “I think it’ll be resolved shortly. I’m sure he’s thinking about it. We’ll see what happens. I’ll be in next week and we’ll try to get things resolved. I’ll be coming in for the draft and we’ll be spending some time and we’ll talk about a lot of things.”
Q. The atmosphere at Bankers Life Fieldhouse began to come back late in the season. Every playoff game was sold out. What’s your message to Pacers fans moving forward – both those that stayed with the team through the rough patches and those that jumped back on board?
A. “Well, we’re back. We’re back as a team that this city can be proud of. We represent the fans and the people of Indiana and I think the word is, we’re back.”
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