Opening Night a Night to Remember

Tonight, the 2014-15 Indiana Pacers season began, and the atmosphere and energy within downtown Indianapolis and Bankers Life Fieldhouse was worthy of a season opener. Pacers Opening Night presented by Kroger had plenty to whet fan's appetites.

Before tipoff, fans were able to get psyched up for the game at the Pregame Party hosted by the Pacers and the IndyStar. Pacers faithful of all ages were able to hang out with fellow fans as well as meet some of the Star’s notable personalities. There was plenty of food and drink from local restaurants to go around, and attendees enjoyed live music and prize giveaways.

The feeling from Pacers fans was one of optimism. Despite the rash of injuries facing Indiana, fans still have faith in their team.

“I still think we can be a playoff team,” shared Ed, a diehard Pacers fan. “I don’t see why not. We still have professionals and experienced guys on our squad, so I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t make the playoffs this year.”

Fellow fan Chris shared a similar sentiment.

“I think we are going to do a lot better than people expect,” he said. “We are going to surprise a lot of people this season.”

The Opening Night festivities continued at halftime as legendary Pacers coach Bobby “Slick” Leonard was recognized for being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The words “Hall of Fame” were added to Leonard’s banner that hangs in the rafters of Bankers Life, and all fans in attendance received a replica to take home.

Leonard’s longtime radio partner Mark Boyle took to the mic and shared some kind words about the man he’s sat next to for more than 20 years.

“First, it’s about time,” Boyle said. “They finally got it right.”

Boyle then introduced the brand new banner and the crowd was on its feet and electric as it dropped back to its rightful place in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Leonard was presented with his own banner, as well.

Finally, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird took to the court and gave Leonard a special gift, the keys to a brand new Cadillac Escalade. It was a truly fitting way to honor one of the organization’s greatest figures.

As for the game itself, Indiana started off the season on a positive note, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 103-89. With Paul George unable to suit up, fellow All-Star Roy Hibbert shined, carrying Indiana to a victory and capping off a great day for the fans just the way they wanted it, with a win.