I've never been a fan of clichés, and "Time flies when you're having fun" was always near the top of my list of ridiculous bon mots. But that was before we became partners and friends; I'm still not big on clichés, but I can tell you without hesitation that our 25 years together have seemed more like 25 minutes.
People are always asking me to share stories about you and/or our time together, and while it's always easy to come up with an episode or two, for me it's not about the stories. It's about a connection. I remember when you used to always tell me to "own the ground you live on", but I rented for the first seven or eight years I was here because I'd moved seven times over the first nine years of my career and figured that Indianapolis was just another pit stop. Then, when I finally took your advice, you made sure that your wife Nancy was my real estate agent and that your son Tommy built my first house.
I've never been a people person, and by now it's safe to say that I probably never will be. But I'm better than I was, and a lot of that comes from being around you. Your knack for making everybody feel like they're the most important person in the room is rare, and it resonates. You've touched so many; I will never forget the night you had that second heart attack on the bus outside Madison Square Garden, and standing outside that bus while our trainers, Carl Eaton and Josh Corbeil saved your life. The rest of us – players, coaches, and staff – couldn't see what was happening on that bus, and the thought of losing you had more than a few grown men standing outside that bus, crying.
As I get older, I tend to appreciate things more than I used to, and the chance to spend 41 nights a year working together is something that I cherish. I know how difficult it is for you to get around, and that some nights you'd probably be wise to stay home. But you don't, and your love for the Pacers, our city, and our state comes through loud and clear every night. You and I have laughed together, we've shared a good part of our lives together, and while our working relationship is without question the highlight of my career, it pales in comparison to the impact our friendship has had on me.
Yeah, 25 years does go by fast when you're having fun. I can't wait for the next 25 to unfold.
I love you.