The Best Mark Montieth Stories of 2018

Mark Montieth is our resident feature writer and Pacers historian. He has covered the team for decades and recently wrote a book on the formation of the franchise.

In 2018, Montieth cranked out a number of memorable features for Pacers.com on stories big and small, from key moments in the 2018 playoff run to historical lessons on important figures behind the scenes.

We've picked out 13 of our favorite Montieth stories from the past year. Here they are, presented in chronological order:

Damien Wilkins

Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

One of the coolest stories of 2017 belonged to Wilkins, a 37-year-old forward who had last played in the NBA in 2013 but made the 2017-18 Pacers out of training camp. Nate McMillan, who coached Wilkins as rookie in Seattle from 2004-05, loved the leadership Wilkins brought to his young team, while Wilkins also showed in the preseason that he was still capable of being a knockdown shooter.

Still, Wilkins knew that his time in Indiana was finite. His contract was only guaranteed until early January and sure enough, the Pacers' front office informed him on Jan. 6 that he would be released the next day.

But then something unexpected happened. Bojan Bogdanovic was unable to play that night against the Chicago Bulls, so McMillan tapped Wilkins to start in a sort of send-off game. The veteran scored 11 points in 22 minutes, going 3-for-6 from 3-point range.

He was released the next day, but graciously talked to the media following practice. Montieth chronicled Wilkins' classy and unique departure in this story.

Wilkins remained in touch with last year's team throughout their playoff run, attending many more games in person. He is currently working for the National Basketball Players Association.

Tony Hinkle

Credit: Butler University

Throughout the year, Montieth writes on each Hickory honoree that is honored at a designated Hickory game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Hinkle, the legendary Butler coach, was the Hickory honoree in February.

Most Hoosier residents know the name that decorates one of college basketball's most historic arenas, but how many know in detail about the career of a man who was a mainstay in Butler athletics for nearly half a century?

Montieth wrote about Hinkle's legacy, from coaching three sports to recruiting the great Bobby Plump, another former Hickory honoree.

Darren Collison

Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Darren Collison's signing in the summer of 2017 did not come with much fanfare. But the 30-year-old point guard seemingly found a home in his ninth season and his second stint with the Pacers.

Collison enjoyed quite possibly his best season in his return to Indiana, leading the NBA in both 3-point percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio in 2017-18. He also took on more of a mentor role as one of the elder statesmen in the Pacers' locker room, something that has continued into the 2018-19 campaign.

In this piece, Montieth examines how Collison was able to have a breakout season at this point in his career.

Nate McMillan

Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Ahead of the Pacers' 2018 playoff series with the Cavaliers, Montieth took a deeper look at Pacers coach Nate McMillan, the unassuming veteran coach who steered the team that stunned the NBA by winning 48 games in the 2017-18 regular season.

Montieth delves into McMillan's steely demeanor and how he was able to win over the trust of the Pacers' locker room.

The story includes insight from several Pacers players, longtime assistant coach Dan Burke, and legendary Pacers executives Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh.

Bojan Bogdanovic

Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Montieth writes a feature story after every home Pacers game in the season, and none were more memorable in 2018 than Game 3 against the Cavs.

The Pacers' first home playoff game of the year featured an unexpected hero in Croatian forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 30 points and tied a franchise playoff record by burying seven 3-pointers, all the while performing admirably in the herculean task of guarding LeBron James.

That night, Montieth wrote about Bogdanovic's two-way brilliance in a game that Pacers fans won't soon forget.

Bill Bevan

Credit: Jessica Hoffman

When the 2017-18 Pacers season came to an end, so too did the career of Bill Bevan, a member of the Pacers' stat crew for all 51 seasons up to that point and the team's official scorekeeper for nearly 49 seasons.

Pacers fans who have attended games over the years likely recognized Bevan's face, but might not know his name or his story. Montieth did him justice upon retirement, telling the tale of a man instrumental to Pacers games behind the scenes for over five decades.

Donnie Walsh

Credit: Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Heading into each NBA Draft, Montieth typically churns out one historical look at the Pacers' draft history. This year, he focused on Walsh's tenure as general manager and how he helped modernize the pre-draft process.

As general manager, Walsh decided to bring in UCLA guard Reggie Miller for a pre-draft interview in 1987, believed to be the first pre-draft interview in franchise history. We all know how that story turns out.

Montieth looks back at some of Walsh's most memorable draft picks, from Rik Smits to Dale Davis to Travis Best.

Bryce Alford

Credit: Pacers.com

An interesting story heading into the 2018 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas was the inclusion of Bryce Alford on the Pacers roster. Bryce's father, Steve Alford, was of course the legendary Indiana basketball star who helped lead Indiana University to the national title in 1987.

The Pacers famously (and correctly) passed on Alford in the draft that year, choosing Miller instead. But an Alford finally wore a Pacers uniform this past summer, when Alford played for Indiana in Las Vegas.

Though he only lived in Indiana for the first six months of his life, Bryce Alford was acutely aware of his father's connection to the state and entertained reporters this summer with some good-natured ribbing of his famous dad.

Doug McDermott and Reggie Miller

Credit: Mitchell Leff

Doug McDermott was one of the Pacers' marquee signings in free agency in the summer of 2018. On his first day in Indiana, McDermott revealed that he rooted for the Pacers in childhood and idolized Miller.

Montieth examined the connection between the two sharpshooters, who met when Miller served as the color commentator for one of McDermott's NCAA Tournament games while he was at Creighton.

Montieth's story also delves into McDermott's fit with the Pacers and how Indiana could provide some stability to his career.

Kevin Pritchard

Credit: Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Ahead of the 2018-19 season, Montieth sat down with Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard for a one-on-one interview on the state of the franchise.

The wide-ranging discussion covered everything from Victor Oladipo's leadership to Lance Stephenson's departure to the longterm future of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.

Muncie basketball stars

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Muncie Central High School, winner of eight basketball state championships, was the honoree for the first Hickory game of the 2017-18 season.

Montieth took a deep dive into the rich basketball tradition of Muncie in this story, focusing in particular on the die-hard fans that have supported the Bearcats over the decades.

Aaron Holiday

Credit: Jessica Hoffman

The Pacers took Aaron Holiday with the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Though Holiday is likely the franchise point guard of the future, the 21-year-old saw limited playing time through the first month of the rookie season.

But when Victor Oladipo went down with an ankle injury in the opening minutes of a Nov. 17 game against the Hawks, Holiday was thrown to the fire. He stepped up to the challenge, scoring 12 points in just over 15 minutes off the bench and igniting the crowd with his energy and hustle.

Montieth chronicled the night that the young Pacers guard first won over Indiana fans.

Myles Turner

Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

The dominant storyline over the past month has been the play of 22-year-old Pacers center Myles Turner. The fourth-year big man got off to an admittedly slow start to the season, but has been sensational in December.

Turner currently leads the NBA in blocked shots and has recorded a double-double in eight of 12 games this month, including his last four.

Montieth wrote about Turner's emergence after one of his best performances, a 26-point, 12-rebound, five-block evisceration of the Wizards on Dec. 10.

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.