SAYING GOODBYE, WITH PASSION
Editor's Note: There's little question the most popular MSA moment among fans who submitted their favorites was Reggie Miller's 3-point shot over Michael Jordan to beat the Bulls in Game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference finals. Because of that, every reader who submitted that particular memory is not included below. Instead, we offer a representative sampling of MSA Memories, both big and small.
From Frank Cook of Indianapolis:
My favorite moment, hands-down, doesn't have a thing to do with basketball. It was in the early years of the arena and my daughter and I were way up in the nosebleed seats. Freddie Lewis and Mel Daniels had been traded to the Memphis Tams and were playing against us, which should date the game. My daughter was about 6 at the time and I'd been taking her to Pacers games for several years by then going back to Fairgrounds days.
The game was close and the teams were trading buckets and the lead down the stretch when my daughter who'd always seemed to enjoy the games looked up at me with a big smile and said, ''this is really exciting.''
I immediately realized that what she was saying was that in prior years she'd been too young to read the scoreboard and had never really understood what was going on and that all the prior pleasure that she'd exhibited at games had nothing to do with basketball but was all about spending an evening with me. I melted. I don't think I've ever experienced another parental moment even close to that one. She's in her 30s now and has two preteen sons. This year I did a very smart thing and bought a big block of Firebird season tickets for my children and grandchildren. I don't think my daughter remembers the specific incident that I just recounted, but when we take her kids to Conseco (Fieldhouse) she very much remembers going to MSA as a child and we know we are creating an experience that her children will remember fondly in years to come.
From Rick Thomas of Media, PA:
Being a Pacers fan since the 70's and being from Philly, I only had the chance to watch Daniels, Buse, Brown and the boys on VHF television. And of course, only the ABA Championship games. Going from Fairgrounds Coliseum to Market Square Arena tells you a bit about my age. But I've always been a Pacers fan.
On business, I had the opportunity to get to Indianapolis, maybe two years ago. Didn't see a game because it was the offseason. But after my appointments, had to find Market Square Arena. Driving into the city, I caught a glimpse of the RCA Dome. Nice, but not Market Square Arena. Still moving around downtown, I made a turn on some street and drove straight in to the facade of Reggie Miller. And was that awesome! After all these years, finally a glimpse of Market Square.
It was a pleasure being in your town. I returned later that year with my brother on a road trip to see my college team, Temple, play Dayton and Cincinnati, and then see the Pacers-Toronto at Conseco Fieldhouse. Great facility, but not Market Square Arena. Not Fairgrounds Coliseum. Not what I grew up with. Not what stays with a kid who spent many days and nights hovering over a black and white TV watching Darnell Hillman's dunks and the rest of the old time Pacers win ABA Championships!
From Ashley Zimmerman of Elkhart, IN:
I've lived in Indiana all my life and everyone there thinks, 'go Hoosiers,' and never really paid any attention to the Pacers, but know pro basketball is thriving in Indiana and MSA was one of the greatest arenas in the world and to go and watch Indiana dominate their opponents night after night was simply breathtaking.
From Joseph Bush of Evansville, IN:
My favorite memory isn't that recent. It goes back to a 1994 playoff game on Memorial Day weekend. I believe it was a Game 6 with the Knicks, which the Pacers won. It was probably the best Pacers game I've attended. The ''crown'' to the whole thing is, after the game I went into the gift shop and it was quite crowded with young kids eyeing all the jerseys with the players' names on them. When they found the jersey and name they were hunting, their eyes got really big and their faces lit up like it was Christmas. I thought that was really neat.
From Ryan Ingram of Montpelier, IN:
I was one of the many lovers of the old MSA. I loved the atmosphere there. I went to about 20 games, but my favorite was definitely my first. It was the first time that the Pacers had ever played the Vancouver Grizzlies. I went with my grandparents, my brother, and my parents. We sat in the nosebleed section but that didn't matter, we loved it just as much as we would have on the floor. As time went by I had more great memories, but none will live up to the first one.
From Robert Cudney Indianapolis:
My most memorable MSA moments are easily two I was able to see in person. At the beginning of the Pacers' playoff success, I was lucky enough to get a ticket to Game 4 of the 1991 series with the Boston Celtics. Chuck Person had been running his motor the whole series and backing it up, and during this game, he stepped in front of Kevin McHale to steal a pass. Rather than taking a wide open lane to the basket, he pulled up and drilled a three-pointer. This was during the end of a run where the Pacers were busy erasing a 13-point deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter, so the crowd was already in a frenzy. Once that ball went in, MSA was almost shaken to the ground 11 years early. The roar continued throughout the ensuing Celtics possession, and the shot clock was showing zero for 3 or 4 seconds before anyone realized there had been a 24-second violation. The crowd was so loud, no one in the building heard the buzzer.
My other indelible memory is Game 4 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals (against Orlando). In a game where the first 47 minutes were already highly competitive and memorable, one can never forget the final 13.4 seconds. Four lead changes and a 7-4 center who was too often under-appreciated for most of his career made his best mark on his Pacers history. The ebb and flow of emotions with every shot in those final seconds was nearly heart-stopping for everyone in attendance, I think. Every shot was well defended and contested and, in the end, simply clutch. Brian Shaw for three for a one-point lead. Reggie from the wing ... Boom Baby! Pacers by two. Penny Hardaway for three with Haywoode Workman practically in his jersey. Swish. Less than 2 seconds left. We can't possibly lose this game and go down 3-1 in the series like this, can we? Then comes...Rik Smits? Hey, Smits happens! Even Mark Boyle lost it! Who could ever forget?
From Catherine R. Deputy of Indianapolis:
My favorite memory is a simple one. My children and I went to a scrimmage a few years ago. We were able to sit right behind the veteran players bench. It was a thrill for us to hear the players joke around. It always felt little more personal at MSA and you always felt a part.
From Nathan Brooks of Greencastle, IN:
One of my favorite Market Square Arena memories was when Fred Hoiberg scored a then-career-high 21 points for the Pacers during a 104-80 victory over the Dallas Mavericks during March, 1997.
From Tom Walker of San Antonio:
My fondest memories may be a little different. I was born in Indy and lived in Speedway until moving to Texas when I was 10. My first Pacers game was in 1977 versus of all teams, the Spurs. I loved every minute of it, but I don't remember who won. So every year now, we see the Pacers at the Alamodome, greet them and say hi, and root really loud. Two years ago we visited Indy to let my family meet my wife and our 1-year-old son, and made it a point to take him to Market Square to see the Pacers, and what a time. We all dressed in Pacers gear and just had the best time meeting people and talking, even after the overtime loss to the Hornets. We felt at home by all the friendly folks and will always treasure the pictures of us before the game, on the sidelines that total strangers were willing to take for us. To top it all off, we had to laugh as our son crawled out on the court during warm-ups, and ended up next to (Chris) Mullin before we could get him! I am so thankful to have been able to take my family back to the place where it all started for me, and will miss the Arena very much.
From Donovan Moore of Parker, CO:
As a long-time Pacers fan (even after spending the last 21 years in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago and now Denver), it's interesting to me to remember the fact that I was present at the very first event at MSA - the Glen Campbell concert in 1974 (I was 11 years old). What a great place Market Square was - especially during the time in which it was built. I'll miss it, although I am still waiting to attend my first game at Conseco Fieldhouse (I can't wait!).
From Matt Gibson of Indianapolis:
I would have to say that my favorite memory of MSA, even though I didn't attend many things there, though I've lived in Indianapolis all 22 years of my life, would have to be one time when the Harlem Globetrotters came through town. I do believe that was my first experience at MSA, or at least the first one where I was able to see the scoreboard and the floor. I was amazed at the size of MSA, thinking that it was massive, and unsure how the Pacers were able to fill the place day-in and day-out with fans. Regardless, it was an entertaining time, as always with the Globetrotters, and I went away a happy camper, as everyone should when they went to an event in MSA.
From Angela Canavan of Indianapolis:
Each and every time I drive past Market Square, I remember all of the fantastic events I've attended over the years. My standout event was the very last game the Pacers played at MSA - against the Utah Jazz - with the highlight videos, music and fanfare. After so many years of Pacers games, this event was overwhelming - so much so that it actually made me cry. Thanks to the Pacers for so many wonderful memories, excitement and continued outstanding basketball.
From Tom Miller of Indianapolis:
I can remember my early visits to Market Square Arena in the late '70s and early '80s. All I ever cared about was finding a way to get mom or dad to buy me one of those souvenir flashlights. You know...the lights that every kid was waving furiously as soon as the MSA lights would dim during the circus and Disney On Ice. I thought I was deprived. As I grew older, I became way too cool to go to the circus and Disney On Ice events. I wanted to see Reggie Miller, Wayman Tisdale, Vern Fleming, and (never forget) Steeepo. I'll have to admit, I was one of the kids who was always a little more excited to see those guys when the man with the Air Jordans came to play them.
Although the cheers remained when the man with the magic shoes (Michael Jordan) came to town, things changed. All of the sudden, in the late 80's to early 90's, MSA decided to add new upper-level seats. Of course, I found out that the curtain that used to cover the un-sold seats was no longer needed. I'll always remember when the Pacers finally advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs by sweeping Shaq's Orlando Magic. It was as if they had won the NBA Championship. Up until that point, I never thought MSA could ever get that loud. That was the beginning of the long-awaited new era of Indiana Pacers basketball: the new era that allowed Pacers fans to remove the grocery bags from their heads. Although many great moments at MSA would follow, for me, that first advancement into the second round was the defining moment. Thank you Market Square Arena. I really will miss you.
From Robert Alsup of Noblesville, IN:
I know my favorite memory was, I believe, the '91 playoff series against Boston. Chuck Person and Larry Bird running down the court and trash talking to each other the whole way. We won Game 4 but lost to Boston in Game 5 when Bird hit his face on the floor and then later returned to beat us. Just seeing Bird and Person just going at it was awesome. The crowd noise was so loud, you could not hear the referee blow his whistle for a shot clock violation against Boston.
From Amy Van Hoy of Plainfield, IN:
My favorite memory would have to be the last game played there. I bought my Dad and I tickets to the game, and it was great to be able to attend. There are so many memories the Pacers shared in that building, it is sad to say good-bye.
From Thomas P. Edwards of West Palm Beach, FL:
In the '70s, 1974-1978, I believe, Tabernacle Recreation (little league basketball sponsored by Tabernacle Presbyterian Church at 34th and Central) used to arrange to have each team play one game each season on the court at MSA. I'll never forget walking out onto that court to play a game. Each coach would make sure each kid got to play at least a few minutes. I was never any good, but I'll never forget that experience. I think we got to see the game that night as well, but I don't really remember. I will also remember seeing many Pacers home games with my dad. I also remember showing people the plaque dedicated to Elvis on the 6th floor outside the box office. Most people did not even know that MSA was the venue of his last concert and certainly did not know of the little shrine to ''The King.'' I live in Florida now, but my brother still attends every Pacers home game (whether he likes it or not). He is Timothy S. Edwards (a media relations assistant).
From Michael Bova of Atlanta, GA:
In addition to the many concerts I went there during my IU college years, of course my favorites are Pacers memories. I'll start with the first game ever in MSA. My family could not wait to try out the new digs back in 1974, and since we were battling the NBA's mighty Bucks in the first-ever game, it indeed was a time I will never forget. I was one of the people who truly knew that at that time on the court the ABA was every bit as good as the NBA, and although by that time we were past our championship seasons, we were still a good team and I will never forget how a sold-out MSA went crazy as the Pacers won in a last-minute come-from-behind victory over the Bucks. I remember Kevin Joyce and Don Buse were the starting backcourt and Len Elmore and Billy Knight were rookies. After that, the ''hang 'em high'' playoff games against George Gervin and the Spurs when the Pacers upset San Antonio in six games and Dancing Harry had the crowd going nuts with the ''whammy.'' Then we hung Denver a mile high before losing to Kentucky.
Another great memory was our first NBA game against the defending champion Celtics, I remember being so excited because months earlier it was distinctly possible the Pacers would fall by the wayside like San Diego, St. Louis and Utah, but instead we were joining the NBA. We led that game the entire way , but Hondo (John Havlicek) and the Celtics came back and ended up beating us in OT. Later, after suffering through many down years I remember driving up from North Carolina when Chuck (Person) went nuts in Game 4 of a first-round series against the Celtics forcing a Game 5 back in Boston.
Then I drove up for playoff games during Larry Brown's first season and went to two games against the No. 1 seeded Hawks, remember Kenny Williams and Byron Scott both flying like Superman, and then driving up again from North Carolina for two wins over the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals. I remember one game (Patrick) Ewing had one point.. These are all terrific memories that I will never forget, I only wish that last year's trip to the NBA Finals, when I drove up from Atlanta and went to both Game 3 and Game 5, would have occurred in MSA. But 30 years from now I can talk about those games, as well as the Fieldhouse's grand openings as favorite memories of that fabulous facility. But MSA is already missed and will forever be considered one of my homes away from home.
From Lindsay Irving of Marion, IN:
Market Square Arena will always hold a place in my heart. When I was 8-years-old I developed severe anxiety attacks and I never wanted to leave the security of my own home. Then I fell in love with the Indiana Pacers, and the fact that Damon Bailey was on the team helped a lot! I can remember my first experience going to see my first game at MSA, all the people and the emotion. I was scared, but I felt some sort of security in the building. As the years passed and I attended all the games my dad could get tickets for, I became one of the loudest, proudest, Pacers fans I could become, and many people sitting around me at games would say I was the most annoying because I was so loud. It hurts me to see them tear it down. Sure, it might just be a building to many people, but that building and the Indiana Pacers team has helped me to overcome my anxiety attacks and I'll always be grateful! The Indiana Pacers team and MSA will always be in my heart!
From Becki Lloyd of Indianapolis:
There are sooooooo many to remember, but the highlight of all the games to me was the opening. The video, the lights down, the music making the fans frantic, Boomer coming down from the ceiling, the introduction of the team … brought tears to my eyes every game!
From Edith James of Connersville, IN:
My fondest memory of Market Square Arena was the IHSAA boys basketball state championship game in March 1983 between Connersville and Anderson. Anderson was the favorite to win but that didn't stop our Connersville Spartans. Connersville's up by one point with less than 20 seconds to play. Anderson has the ball and the play is set up to get the ball to Anderson's future Mr. Basketball, Troy Lewis. With about six seconds on the clock he shoots and everyone knows he won't miss. He is so great. But he does miss, Connersville rebounds, holds the ball the two or three seconds on the clock and wins their second state boys basketball championship. What a thrill! I love those boys!
From Penny Shaver of Union, KY:
We began attending games in 1982. I must say we have so many memories from the games. I loved the spirit of the fans at the games and especially at playoffs. We remember the times that the Pacers would sign autographs before the game. We remember the game that Reggie and Michael Jordan head-butted and the fans booed Michael for the rest of the game. We remember the game that Vern (Fleming) was nearing the end of his basketball Pacers career and my son and I started chanting ''Vern'' and the crowd joined in and Vern was put in the game. I remember the many steps to climb to get to our upper level of seats. I remember the fun of watching Boomer come down the rope for the games. I remember Chuck Person kicking the ball into the seats during the game. I have so many good memories. We loved attending the games and we loved Market Square.
From Jim Yuncker of Springfield, IL:
My favorite Pacers moment was the (ABA) playoff game between Denver Nuggets and the Pacers when Larry Brown was the Denver coach. I was lucky enough to get tickets on the top row at mid-court. Everything was great about the game except the end result. Brown and his team left Market Square victorious. I hate to see it go!
From Shane McCorkle of Elwood, IN:
Being 34 and a life-long Hoosier, I have spent most of my life going in and out of Market Square Arena. I have been to hundreds of concerts and hundreds of Pacers games at ol' MSA, and most of my greatest memories in my life are from inside that beautiful building. But of all the memories I have from MSA, my favorite will always be Game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls. When Reggie Miller hit the go-ahead three-pointer, I had never heard a crowd reaction so loud or so emotional in my life. I'm not afraid to admit I had tears rolling down my face. I'm going to miss that old building, and part of my heart will be broken when I see her fall in that cloud of dust. Thanks MSA, you won't be forgotten.
From Peter van Diesen of Diepenveen, The Netherlands:
My moment is Rik Smits making the last points against Orlando (in the '95 conference finals). I was watching the game on cable in Holland. Sitting on the edge of my chair when Indiana and Orlando are switching the lead, again and again. And then the final shot of Rik Smits in the buzzer and yes, Indiana wins the game. This is my most favorite moment in MSA.
From Dan Ahrens of Fishers, IN:
My favorite memory was when the Pacers swept Orlando in the first round of the ('94) playoffs and Shaq, then a rookie, was just shaking in his shoes as MSA (''the big hat'') just rocked.
From Jeff Smith of Campbellsville, KY:
I would have to say the greatest memory of all time would be the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals between the Pacers and Bulls, reliving the memories of Miller's clutch shots and the Pacers taking the Bulls to a critical Game 7. The conference finals against the Knicks would also have to be in there too because these games were some of the greatest games in Pacers history.
From Jessi Lemming of Indianapolis:
I've been to Market Square Arena for numerous events - Pacers games, Ice games, and concerts. But my best memory of MSA has to be IHSAA State Finals! In 1988 and 1989 our girls basketball team from Benton Central went to the state finals. I've never witnessed so much excitement and energy! Of course, that was back when high school basketball was one class and what Indiana was known for - just the four best teams in the state, regardless of size, playing for the title 'State Champions.' But anyway, the sea of green and gold and the chant of 'Lady Bison! Lady Bison!' is still so vivid. I will never forget how loud the crowd was. It was deafening. And even though Benton Central did not win either year, it's still my favorite memory of MSA. MSA truly captured all the emotions and feelings of what basketball in Indiana was all about.
From Skip Oliver of Evansville, IN:
My favorite MSA memory was the Game 4 with the Chicago Bulls in 1998. It was the loudest I had ever heard any arena for any sporting event. We stayed at the Days Inn across the street, after the game was over the front desk clerk said he thought there was an earthquake when Reggie hit the last second three-pointer. I will never forget that game and the bonding of all Pacers fans in our area, when I see that shot I still get goose bumps.
From Kraig Cole of Manila, the Philippines:
I am a huge Pacers fan, but because I live elsewhere, TV is usually the way I watch Pacers games. But two years ago, during the lockout-shortened season, I was able to visit Indy and attend a Pacers game. The Charlotte Hornets were in town. I remember that although we were down most of the game, the cheering from Indy faithful remained loud, and inspired Reggie and the Pacers to a comeback overtime victory. Boy, was that place ever rocking!
From Thomas J. Wright Sr. or Brownstown, IN:
I have so many memories of Market Square Arena. I remember being at ABA playoffs with my girlfriend (now wife of nearly 25 years) and seeing George McGinnis (I was a freshman at George Washington High School when he was a senior and lead the team to an undefeated state championship), Bob Netolicky, Billy Keller (another GWHS grad), Roger Brown, Coach Bob ''Slick'' Leonard, and Dancing Harry. I was at the first NBA game where they passed out buttons that said ''A whole new ballgame.''
From Carla Williams of Indianapolis:
I would have to say that the memory that sticks out the most is my first Pacers game. I, along with my sister, have always liked basketball but had never been to a game. The first game we went to was one of the final regular season games at MSA. I remember it was against the New York Knicks. The whole thing just gave me goose bumps, from getting to our seats and watching the other fans, to the pregame activities to the introduction of the Knicks, then the Pacers. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.
From Mike Lieske of Maineville, OH:
As a lifelong Indianapolis resident who moved to Cincinnati a year ago, I miss the Pacers. They have been my favorite forever. So here is the best one: My 18th birthday was on the same day as the Pacers-Magic Eastern Conference Finals (game) in 1995. For a birthday gift my dad bought me tickets to the game. The kicker was that they were at center court on the floor. I sat next to Marv Albert that day. If you look at film of the game, you can see me in my ''Smits Happens'' yellow T-shirt right next to Marv Albert.
The second one is the return of Michael Jordan. It is the only time I have seen him play in person and it was unbelievable even though he was still a little rusty.
From Janet Emmons of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada:
I'd have to say my favorite memory of MSA is when the five best players all played together for the Pacers (Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Jalen Rose, Rik Smits, and Chris Mullin) and when Larry Bird was coach! Theses are memories I'll always remember!
From Adrian T. Lewis of Indianapolis:
Market Square Arena is a very dear to me. I've been to many concerts, several basketball camps, (and) my parents had season tickets at MSA, but the most memorable event that happened at MSA was when I (was) graduated from North Central High School in 1999.
From Nick Guilinger of Tipton, IN:
My favorite memory at MSA is when (Michael) Jordan came back into the league. I got to go and see him play after begging my parents to take me all morning. That had to be one of my best times in MSA.
From Randy Greb of Indianapolis:
My favorite MSA moment was watching the Racers beat the highly favored Cincinnati Stingers 4 games to 0 with a capacity crowd of over 16,000. The Racers led the WHA in attendance that year averaging over 9,300 per game. It was what turned me to hockey. I have played ever since. I was only 12 then and now I'm 35. I can still feel the energy of that crowd. Indianapolis was a hockey city for a very short but wonderful time. That was a very special place and I'm sorry to see it go. I have seen 30-40 Pacers Games and probably 100 Racers games. The WHA was also special for bringing in other National Teams from around the world to play in exhibitions in MSA. I even went to a few Twister games there. I spent a great deal of my childhood and adult life in that building. Indianapolis is very lucky to have had a building with such wonderful stories to tell.
From Mike Quinn of Indianapolis:
I guess that the most memorable moment was when Michael Jordan came back. The tickets outside the arena were being scalped for three to four times the face value. The crowd inside was electrifying. Everyone was pumped up to see the greatest player of all time make his comeback. And he did, but the almighty Pacers prevailed and won that game. I grew up in Plainfield, IL, but now I live on the west side of Indy and am a die-hard Pacers fan. Thanks for all the memories.
From Noriko Kikuchi of Terre Haute, IN:
My favorite moment of Market Square Arena is a preseason game, which was Pacers vs. Kings in October, 1999. I am a big fan of NBA in Japan and I have visited U.S. several times to watch games from 1992, but I have never visited Indiana. After I graduated, I have an opportunity to study in the U.S., and I chose to live in Indiana because I like Larry Bird and he was the head coach of Pacers. I bought a ticket for a preseason game as soon as I started my life in Indiana. That was the first Pacers game for me to watch in their homecourt and saw Larry Bird. I was very excited and took so many pictures during the game. I really enjoyed the game. I became a big fan of Pacers from that time and drove from my home to Indianapolis to watch games as much as I could. So the first game was unforgettable and memorable moment for me.
From David Wetterer of Indianapolis:
My favorite memory from MSA would have to be the first ever Pacers game I attended. It was Saturday, January 28, 1995 against the 76ers. I was in fifth grade and had not paid much attention to the Pacers up 'till then. In fact, my ''favorite'' team up 'till that time was the Rockets since they won the ring the year before, but that game changed my life around. I can still remember the last 10 seconds of that game, Byron Scott got the ball from an inbounds pass and hit a game-winning shot from waaayyyyyy downtown. From that point on, I was hooked on the Indiana Pacers and still am a die-hard Pacers fan today.
From Shawn Withem of Lancaster, OH:
I saw my first ever NBA game at Market Square. I have always loved the Pacers and that was such a great place to watch a basketball game. The new arena is great but MSA was something special. My mom and I always drove over from Ohio to watch about three games a year and yes, I was at the Michael Jordan return game. I wore a shirt that said, ''There's only one 45 and that's Rik Smits.'' I guess there is no need for the arena anymore but it would still be great if they kept it there!
From Mark Robertson of Paintsville, KY:
I guess my fondest memory (and only memory) of Market Square is that I saw my first NBA game live in the arena. It was against the Knicks in April, 1999. After that I have come back every year since because I enjoyed the NBA experience a lot.
From Kevin Van Wye of Indianapolis:
One of my most vivid memories and when I first truly believed the Pacers were on the right path to success came in the Boston playoff series in '91. I pretty sure it was Game 4 and the Pacers pulled a defensive rebound the outlet pass to Chuck Person who pulls up on the fast break and drains a 3-pointer that seemed to come from just inside the halfcourt line.
The crowd erupts for perhaps the first time in what would become a standard for playoff games at MSA. The Celtics call timeout, Chuck begins beating his head like a wild man. During the entire timeout the crowd was at fever pitch. When the players came back on the court, they had to delay for the network to come out of commercial. I remember Larry Bird standing on the endline waiting to inbound the ball looking around the arena in disbelief. It seemed as if we was saying to the ref, ''This isn't my house anymore.'' It was a great moment that was a precursor to many more.
From Greg Smith of Columbus, IN:
As a kid growing up in Columbus, Market Square Arena was where my friends and I often ended up to see our favorite sport teams and world-class rock and roll. A big thrill for me was playing for the IU hockey club against Purdue in the (then) annual Purple Puck charity games. I saw everyone from John Denver to Deep Purple to John Mellencamp to Led Zeppelin at MSA. My personal highlight was without question the Led Zeppelin show, April 17, 1977 at MSA. Jeanne Dixon had predicted a major disaster in a Midwest arena that night and when Jimmy Page started smacking his double-necked guitar with the bow - the place was throbbing like you wouldn't believe. It was a sound I compare to being in the midst of one of those Midwestern thunderstorms, thunder overhead. Yes, I'd say that old place served us well and have many fond memories.
From Oly Hanson of Rock Island, IL:
I actually have three favorite MSA moments. All three were very significant to the Pacers franchise. I really can't decide on just one so I will tell you about all three of them. First of all I will start with maybe the biggest win in Pacers history, with the exception of winning the conference title, the Game 3 win over Orlando in the 1994 playoffs. It was the first time the Pacers had ever won a playoff series, so who could ever forget that? Next would be Game 4 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals against Orlando. That is still the greatest NBA game I have ever seen. First, Brian Shaw hit a three to give the Magic a one-point lead with 13 seconds left. Then Reggie hits a three with five seconds left to give the Pacers back their two-point lead, but then with 1.3 seconds to play Penny Hardaway hits a three to give the lead back to Orlando setting up the greatest moment, to that point, in Pacers history: Rik Smits hit a long jumper to give the Pacers the win at the buzzer and even the series up at two games apiece. Last, I have to mention Game 4 of the 1998 East Finals against the Bulls. Reggie Miller hit the game-winning three-pointer on Jordan to even that series up at two. That shot is the best shot I have ever seen and the reaction of the Market Square crowd was just amazing and shows how big of a moment that was for most Pacers fans.
From Donna Davis of Anderson, IN:
I have no great story about the MSA building, however I would like to see the full-length picture of Reggie that was on the front to the building to be placed in Conseco Fieldhouse. After all, it has always been said ''This is the house that Reggie built.'' I realize that it took many, many people to build this franchise and team. I feel the same way, that is why out of all the Pacers clothing I buy, I never buy one player's number because it takes a team to win all those games. All that being said, please put Reggie's picture where it belongs.
From Tom Walsh of Brownsburg IN:
My best memory was the last game of the 1982 season. The Simons had just bought this awful mess of a team. But for that game, actually one of their first as owners, they brought in as after game entertainment - The Beach Boys! The Pacers played the Milwaukee Bucks, who had (Sidney) Moncrief, Scott May, and a tremendous team that won the Division.. The Beach Boys sold the place out and I was in the nosebleed seats. Except for the Larry Bird playoff teams - and the unreal noise at that time - I have never heard Market Square so loud. Somehow, the Pacers, with Clark Kellogg and not much else, and I think Jack McKinney was the coach, won the game! After the game, Jack McKinney spoke to the crowd while the Beach Boys were setting up. He said not to worry everybody, the Simon brothers (whoever they were) would have the Pacers on top of the NBA very soon.
From Matthew Smith of Westfield, IN:
I have many memories of MSA. It was awesome. My favorite memory is when it was Al Harrington's first game as a proud Indiana Pacer! It was the forth quarter and the Pacers were playing Toronto and it was a tight game with 2:34 left and so many people were chanting ''Put In Al'' for the whole fourth quarter, finally Larry Bird got the idea to put him in and he hit his first shot! That was my favorite memory!
From Matt Diamond of Statesboro, GA:
I have to say that one of my favorite memories of MSA happened in the '96-97 season. The game Reggie hit a three at the buzzer to beat Boston was a game for the ages. It was a back and forth battle for most of the game and Reggie took over in the final minutes. The other great memory was the entire series against the Bulls in '98. The team was awesome at home. With Reggie hitting big three-pointers, and everyone playing their game. I loved when Derrick McKey locked up Jordan in the closing seconds of Game 6. I just hope Conseco Fieldhouse gives us even more great memories we can tell about in 25 years.
From Kudakwashe Gumbie of Harare, Zimbabwe:
My most memorable moment from Market Square is Reggie's shot in Game 4 against Michael and the Bulls in '98. What makes this shot so memorable is that Miller had an ankle problem before he hit the shot and also Larry Bird's calm reaction to it. Also the fourth quarter in Game 3 where Bird was about to take Reggie out then he hit three straight 3-pointers. I think that that whole series against the Bulls was the best-ever, even though they ended up losing.
From Ashley Lott of Gary, IN:
The thing that I am mostly going to miss about MSA is going under (the building on Market Street) heading onto I-65. I love MSA. It's a whole lot different from the other arenas today.
Chris Knople of Plainfield, IN:
I'm only 25-years-old myself but I have several fond memories of MSA. These memories listed below are ones that I physically witnessed.
1. 1998, Pacers vs. Bulls, Game 6, Eastern Conference Finals when our chrome-dome Pacers stretched the series to Game 7 in Chicago. Game 6 ended with Jordan falling to the floor on the way to the hoop - it happened right in front of me.
2. 1994, Pacers vs. Magic, Game 3, First Round. This game marked the future of the Pacers. We swept through the Magic for our first ever NBA playoff series victory.
3. Larry's Game. I don't remember when for sure but this marked the first time I saw Bird, Magic, Jordan, Isiah Thomas, and several of the greats play.
4. Harlem Globetrotters. Need I say more! They're fun to watch and they include the crowd a lot.
5. Larry Bird's first game as coach against the Golden State Warriors.
6. Ice Capades.
7. 1990, Indianapolis Ice won the Turner Cup in their first year in the IHL.
8. Several Indianapolis Checkers games before they folded. I'm too young to remember the Racers.
9. Garth Brooks concert; he started to sing ''Fever'' and took off his Mo Betta shirt and was wearing a Jim Harbaugh jersey. All I remember is the crowd going nuts.
10. Wizard Of Oz on Ice.
From Eric Heavrin of Indianapolis:
I have two really great memories from MSA. The first was when we held the World Gymnastics Championships and I was able to see and meet many great athletes. I have personal interviews with many of them from the stands watching the competition as any other fan would. The second and the most memorable was when I was probably 8-years-old. The Harlem Globetrotters came and gave me a show that 21 years later has never been matched. This was the show that got me excited about live venues. They made me believe that they were there for nothing but the love of Indiana's sport, basketball. Since then, I've seen numerous games and concerts in MSA and loved going to the facility every single time. I joined the military in 1992 and come back to Indy to visit family every six months or so. Indy will not be the same without MSA, the city will have a hole left in it where her heart was.
From Matthew Dodson of Indianapolis:
Game 6 of the '95 Eastern Conference Finals - my friend Bill and I went downtown as the game was ending. The Pacers were destroying the Magic. We parked and walked towards MSA. We walked in as the people were leaving. There was an energy in the crowd that transformed into a wild party on Market Street. We talked with Bobby Leonard and Antonio Davis. My friend even bought a program just to say we were there. I guess the memory is not that grand, but MSA holds so many Pacers memories. My mom used to drop off me and a friend to buy $7 tickets to see Chuck Person or Reggie. Vern Fleming. I recently moved out of town. While in Indy on a visit, I went to a game against New York. I turned to my friend and said that Reggie Miller has been a Pacer since I was 8-years-old. I am 22 and he still does it. Memories of MSA are linked to days that the Pacers struggled and days that led to glory. I thank God that he let me be there in 1999 for the last game at MSA.
From Dave and Care Bash of Indianapolis:
We remember the joy of playoff game wins at MSA; walking down those west-side ramps and onto the street. Fans yelling and screaming, high-fiving, and actually dancing in the street - strangers and friends alike - united by the special joy of a big Pacers playoff win. MSA was such a ''sound-box'' for cheering fans. Boy, could we make noise with Shaq at the line! The Pacers went from ex-ABA new guys to NBA legit at MSA. Market Square Arena became just as familiar a name to NBA fans as Madison Square Garden. It's a tough act for the Fieldhouse to follow but the Pacers and their fans will do it.
From Jim Dalbey of Phoenix, AZ:
Mine is an interesting memory, I think. The first game I saw there was the 1975 ABA World Championship against Kentucky. We had ordered our tickets by phone, as we were driving from Danville, IL. We had no idea where the will-call window was, so we are walking all over the place trying to find it, and eventually we somehow end up inside. Finding an usher, we ask where the will-call window is at. He looks at us funny and asks, ''how did you get in here?'' We really had no idea, and told him we just walked in. He laughed and pointed us to some seats and said ''you don't need any tickets, you're in.'' We of course knew that, but also wanted to stay for the game. He later told us no one ever shows up in the seats he gave us, so we were safe. That, of course, was the only game the Pacers won in that series. Also, two or three weeks later, I received a refund for the tickets that we had not picked up. We had many trips to Indy for concerts, Pacers games , etc. but nothing like the first memory of seeing the beautiful court, and doing it without a ticket.
From Jim Mitchell of Mesa, AZ:
I sure will be sad to see the old arena go down. I spent many happy and sad moments there over the years. I'm from Bedford (IN), and I now live in Mesa, AZ. I've not been to Conseco Fieldhouse yet, although I've heard great things about it. I'm sure it's awesome, but somehow I don't think it will duplicate the aura of MSA. There was just something about it; I can't exactly describe it. It wasn't the most glamorous arena in pro ball, or the most spacious. But it was fan-friendly, and very noisy, which I loved. I think we sat on the lower level only once or twice ever (we couldn't afford the tickets!), but even from the upper level, there was just a feeling you got from being there. A good feeling. A feeling that even though you were playing the best team in the league, and your team was in a slump, you had a chance to win.
I spent many seasons in the early '80's wondering if we were ever, ever, going to reach .500, let alone make the Finals or even get past the first round. I was there many times when there was barely six or seven thousand fans in the arena (maybe less!), let alone 10-15,000-plus like the past few years. All that didn't matter, though. You knew you were in there with die-hard fans, like yourself, when your team is 20-plus games under .500, and no chance of making the playoffs, but you came anyway, to cheer them on and hope, pray, for the future. You would buy the t-shirts, the pennants, the programs, with no-name players listed next to other NBA superstars you saw every weekend on CBS. I went to every draft party from about 1984 or '85 until I moved in 1991. We drove almost two hours one-way to get to the arena. Ahh, the memories. I could go on and on, but I won't. I just get a little sentimental when I think of all the good times me and my friends spent there and it (MSA) is going to be leveled in a few days.
My list of great (or not-so-great) MSA memories are:
Those are my favorites, but there are plenty more memories to keep alive. I think my absolute favorite memory is just being there, cheering my team, the Indiana Pacers, win or lose. Thanks for the memories, Market Square Arena!
From Joe Linville of Osceola, IN
It must have been the fall of '74, though it seems longer ago than that. My brother took me to see the Pacers play the Conquistadors (I think). We had seats on the baseline right where the players walk to the locker room. We lost a close one. As the players were leaving the floor I heard Mel Daniels cussing the paint off of the lane and hitting whatever inanimate object got in his way. He was forming combinations of words I'd never heard before with common everyday words. It was almost beautiful. He was so angry at the thought of losing. Although I was a little scared, being only 9, I was enthralled with the competitive nature of this huge man. I loved him. Roger and, if I remember correctly, Donnie Freeman both mussed my hair as they made their way off the court with forced smiles. They were pissed too, you could see that, but they were better PR men than Mel. As a player in high school and now as a high school coach, I've left the gym after a loss more times like Mel than like Roger. I'm not ashamed of that.
From Steve Sison of Terre Haute, IN:
As with many who grew up attending events at MSA during their youth, I have many vivid mental ''snapshots'' when I think of the arena. Some of my favorites include:
From Steve Read of Altoona, IA:
You know, of all the great memories of MSA, the one I have if probably not the least on everyone's list, and probably no one will every recall it. My parents and I always went to Pacers games back in the hey-day years. I would say around '77-78, well Bobby (Slick) Leonard was coach - if that doesn't tell you how long it was ago, well I was five or six years old and now I am 28 - I went down on the floor before a game to meet all the Pacers players like Don Buse, Billy Keller, Billy Knight and of course, coach (Leonard). Coach put me on his shoulders and walked around with me. I remember looking up at the crowd and really realizing how special MSA really was. MSA is and will always be in my heart, when it dies, a piece of me will, too. Thanks for the memories.
From Brenda Chase of Speedway, IN:
Where to start? So many great memories of MSA! The concerts, the shows, the circus, everything happened there for so long. My favorite and longest lasting memories, however, are from the Pacers games. The biggest thing I miss overall, is the NOISE! It was so loud in those last years! Then come my seven favorite memories. I couldn't get the list any shorter. So I'm sorry in advance for the length.
1, Coming down Market Street and watching the big poster of Reggie peek around the corner of the City County Building as you approached the arena. It was always like he was saying - ''Hey, glad you could make it down. I've been waiting for you.''
2. Sitting in the empty stands in '93 (with the black curtains down to make it look full for TV) and listening to Slick coin the phrase ''Boom Baby'' for the first time as Reggie had his breakout season and truly started the Pacers climb to dominance!
3. Sitting in the ''nose bleeds'' in '94 (no black curtains this year) and screaming ''John Starks is a punk!'' as the Pacers beat the Knicks in a late-season game and go on to the playoffs.
4. I was there for MJ's comeback too! The Pacers smoked him in that game. One of the few times any team could say that about Michael Jordan's Bulls!
5. Larry Bird's first game as the new head coach! A true Indiana Hero!
6. Walking through a heavy downpour of rain, after going to the Indy 500 parade, to get inside for Game 6 of the '98 Eastern Conference Finals. I could only get one ticket and had to go to the game by myself. Everyone was soaked and dripping! It was a great game! Then, at the end, watching Reggie, on a bad leg, beat MJ to the ball and make that three-pointer to win the game and jump down the court, while Larry stood there showing no emotion! What a moment! I was jumping and hugging the strangers next to me. The place was so electric you could have sold power to California! Next to the first time I ever had sex, this is one of the most exciting moments of my life! Unbelievable! I still get chills when they replay it during opening ceremonies at the Fieldhouse.
7. Going to the final preseason game against Utah, seeing Reggie and Jalen, in person, signing autographs and meeting fans, (as an adult fan - this was a rare opportunity), and patting Jalen on the shoulder and wishing him luck during his first season as a starter.
With a little sadness, I've watched them slowly tear down MSA - a really great place with more great memories than these pages will ever be able to contain. Thanks for all of them!