2019 Media Day: Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo

September 27, 2019 - Returning Pacers Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis stopped by to chat with Pacers personalities Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle during Friday's Media Day.

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2019 Media Day: Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo

September 27, 2019 - Returning Pacers Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis stopped by to chat with Pacers personalities Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle during Friday's Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  07:42

2019 Media Day: Nate McMillan

September 27, 2019 - Pacers guard Nate McMillan sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  10:18

2019 Media Day: Malcolm Brogdon

September 27, 2019 - Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  08:27

2019 Media Day: Myles Turner

September 27, 2019 - Pacers center Myles Turner sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  04:52

2019 Media Day: Goga Bitadze

September 27, 2019 - Pacers center Goga Bitadze sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  06:24

2019 Media Day: Doug McDermott

September 27, 2019 - Pacers forward Doug McDermott sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  04:40

2019 Media Day: T.J. McConnell

September 27, 2019 - Pacers guard T.J. McConnell sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  06:48

2019 Media Day: T.J. Warren

September 27, 2019 - Pacers forward T.J. Warren sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  05:08

2019 Media Day: TJ Leaf

September 27, 2019 - Pacers forward TJ Leaf sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  02:27

2019 Media Day: Aaron Holiday

September 27, 2019 - Pacers guard Aaron Holiday sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  05:00

2019 Media Day: Justin Holiday

September 27, 2019 - Pacers guard Justin Holiday sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  05:48

2019 Media Day: Alize Johnson

September 27, 2019 - Pacers guard Alize Johnson sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  03:28

2019 Media Day: Brian Bowen II

September 27, 2019 - Pacers forward Brian Bowen II sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  04:04

2019 Media Day: Naz Mitrou-Long

September 27, 2019 - Pacers guard Naz Mitrou-Long sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  06:25

2019 Media Day: JaKeenan Gant

September 27, 2019 - Pacers forward JaKeenan Gant sits down to talk with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle on Pacers Media Day.
Sep 27, 2019  |  05:17

2019 Media Day: CJ Wilcox

Sep 27, 2019  |  05:03

Oladipo Has Positively Returned

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Just to make it official and get it out of the way, Victor Oladipo doesn't know when he'll be able to play in an NBA game. Doesn't have a target date, hasn't been given a clue by doctors, isn't really focused on it.

But, while he won't accompany the Pacers to India for their first two preseason games next week, he said he feels fine and will participate in some of the drills when training camp opens on Saturday. Other than having been ruled out of the regular season opener on Oct. 23, no specifics have been offered.

"I can't control the future," Oladipo said Friday when the Pacers conducted Media Day at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. "All I can control is the here and now."

Here and now, Oladipo was in midseason form as his typical vibrant self. He joked with teammates, let out the occasional random shout during the photo session on the Fieldhouse's main floor and jumped into an online interview broadcasters Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle were conducting with Domantas Sabonis.

Meeting with the media beforehand, he was equal parts entertaining, incisive and evasive. And, as always, patently positive.

"When I say I'm coming back better than ever, I'm not just saying that because it sounds good," he said. "I truly believe that."

Asked how he expects to be better, however, Oladipo deferred.

"I can show you better than I can tell you," he said. "I don't like telling people stuff, I like showing them."

Oladipo did acknowledge paying "a lot of attention" to altering his shooting form (trying to get rid of the left-to-right motion before releasing the ball), but mostly he's focused on mental adjustments.

"Your mind is another muscle you have to work in this process," he said. "That's what I've been working on, building my mind to be in game shape. Being able to withstand some things that I might not be able to work on without paying the game.

"I learned a lot about myself as an individual and a man. I learned a lot about life in general. I really believe I got smarter this summer, too, believe it or not."

Oladipo rejoins a team drastically different than the one he left when he tore the quad muscle in his right leg on Jan. 23. Starters Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young, and Bojan Bogdanovic are gone from last season's team, as are backups Kyle O'Quinn, Cory Joseph, and Tyreke Evans and replacement starter Wesley Matthews. He'll have to find chemistry within a starting lineup that will include point guard Malcolm Brogdon, forward T.J. Warren, and former reserve Sabonis, who replaces Young at the big forward position.

The view through his rose-colored glasses is a good one.

"I think we're the best team in the East," he said. "I thought that last year, I thought that the year before. I don't care who added who, I don't care who's on whose team now, (we're) still the best team in the East. That's how I feel. Call me crazy, I really don't care. If anyone on the street asks me who the best team in the East is, I'll tell them it's us. I really believe that. I don't go into no season worried about anybody else. They aren't worried about us."

Turner Finds Peace and Quiet

Myles Turner had a busy summer, playing for the United States team in the World Cup in China after working out with Hall of Famer Kevin McHale. He took a brief vacation last week in Wyoming with a few friends to decompress.

To do what?

"Nothing," he said. "That was exactly why I went out there. I just wanted to get away for a little bit, turn my phone off, go somewhere remote. It was the perfect place for that. I got to go hiking a little bit, got into the mountains and saw some good views. Kind of a unique place.

"Just quiet, tranquil...the weather was nice."

Was he recognized in such a remote place?

"Yeah, I was the only black guy there," he said.

Turner said he spent two or three days with McHale, the former Boston Celtic who is regarded as one of the greatest post-up scorers in NBA history. More than learning new moves, he says he learned a new approach.

"The biggest thing I got out of it was his mentality more than anything," Turner said. "I think the stuff he was saying was the stuff I took away the most."

As a 23-year-old four-season veteran, Turner remains in what should be an ascending segment of his career. Therefore, his ambition is to improve in everything rather than in one specific area. It starts with defense, however. He led the NBA in blocked shots last season but did not make either the first or second all-defensive team.

"Obviously, I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish with that," he said. "Offensively, just wanting to step it up even more. I feel I've been producing at a decent level offensively but not what the level I'm capable of.

"Also being more of a voice, especially with Vic being out early. Just being more of a voice in the locker room."

Gaga for Goga

First-round draft pick Goga Bitadze has drawn plenty of praise for his play in the pre-training camp scrimmages. Coach Nate McMillan and teammates describe a player with a complete game and an aggressive mindset who plays beyond his years.

"You look at him and his body and think in the next couple of years what he can become, the future is really bright for Goga as well as the Pacers," McMillan said.

In person, however, Bitadze comes across more like an innocent, playful kid. He turned 20 on July 20, a month after he was drafted with the 18th overall pick. Asked where he celebrated his birthday, he paused.

"I don't remember, to be honest," he said. "I don't really celebrate my birthday too much.

"Oh, I was here," he added later. "They (the Pacers) make a party for me, actually. Oh, my God, that's right. They had a cake. It was really good. They made a party for me.

"I wasn't focused on my birthday, it was more about the work. I don't love my birthday that much. I don't like to be in the middle of attention; I don't like that that much."

Bitadze wore No. 11 last season while playing in Europe, but will become the first Pacer ever to wear No. 88 next season.

"I have some reasons behind that," he said. "Also, my childhood friend was No 8."

Asked for the reasons, he declined.

"I have my own explanations," he said. "I keep for myself."


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.

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