Alongside day trips to pumpkin patches and night visits to haunted houses, there is another October tradition in Indianapolis: the annual Pacers FanJam at Bankers Life FIeldhouse, a free-to-the public event that allows fans to meet their favorite Pacers players and personalities.
The 2019 version of FanJam was held on Sunday afternoon at The Fieldhouse. A soldout crowd celebrated the start of a new Pacers season at the three-and-a-half-hour event, which featured a Pacers scrimmage and the ever-popular Rookie Show.
The first hour included activities on the concourse, where fans could meet Pacers broadcasters, alumni, mascots, and dance team members, get their face painted, or shoot a free throw on the main court. All fans also received a t-shirt and a voucher for a free drink, hot dog, and chips upon admission.
The main event started at 2:30, when Pacers television announcer Chris Denari introduced the 2019-20 Pacers team. The players then took part in a 14-minute scrimmage, which ended in a 38-38 tie after a last-second 3-pointer from newcomer T.J. Warren.
After performances by the Indiana Pacemates and Pacers Hype Crew, as well as a dunk show by Boomer and the Power Pack, the players took part in a few games. Aaron Holiday bested Doug McDermott, in the finals of the 3-point contest, avenging his older brother Justin, whom McDermott defeated in the semifinals. Rookie Brian Bowen II defeated fellow two-way guard Naz Mitrou-Long in a frisbee-throwing competition, while Aaron Holiday won a halfcourt shooting competition.
PHOTO GALLERY: 2019 Pacers FanJam »
But the main event was the annual Rookie Show, where newcomers perform songs chosen by the veterans. After the new members of the coaching staff took the stage, the main event pitted rookies Bowen and Goga Bitadze. Bowen went first, performing "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield while dressed as Big Bird. Bitadze, the Pacers' first-round pick out of the Republic of Georgia, then took the floor dressed as Super Mario and sang "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera.
Bitadze won the fan vote and was named champion of the event.
"The fans are really nice people, really warm people," Bitadze said. "We had a lot of fun. Hopefully they did, too."
For the final hour of the event, the players dispersed to photo stations throughout The Fieldhouse, where fans were able to get their picture taken with small groups of players.