Team Behind The Team Recap

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Granger Gives Back

By: Ashley Peek

Danny Granger is a player of many characterizes, on and off, of the court. Passionate, fast, generous, tough, intelligent, and humble. But no one word can sum up the lengths Granger has taken to thank the Bankers Life Fieldhouse part-time employees during the lockout and for their patience through the 161-day period.

Although Granger mentioned on his Twitter account it being the least he could do, it has not been seen like that in the eyes of arena workers.

“It’s a really amazing event because we’re all like one big family and we love these guys. We love this team. ” said Arthur Smith a cook at Bankers Life.

On October 16, 2011, 53 days before the end of the lockout on December 8, 2011, Granger tweeted the following:

“All the workers at our arena are invited to dinner with me in Indianapolis…Date to be announced soon… A little #nbalockoutgift”

Over one hundred people reposted Granger’s words and he instantly shined through as being an NBA player with an unselfish persona and a passion for giving back.

The Pacers organization decided upon having the dinner at the Fieldhouse the evening after the Pacers played host to the Boston Celtics and before they take a three-game trip out to the West Coast.

The employees at the arena were without a job or salary from July 1 until November 26.

Granger continues to show his veteran status to employees, and fans alike, as he represents Pacers Sports & Entertainment in stellar fashion.

“I wanted to do something for these unsung workers and for the sacrifices they were making with lost income,” Granger said. “Now, it's the best of everything, the team stepped in to help, we're playing, they are back making this the best place to come to in the NBA, and we can get together for some food and fun."

The event, which will host part-time employees from Levy Restaurants, security, EMT, crowd management, event workers, stat crew, box office, and the gift shop, will feature games, raffle prizes and special guests.

This special evening will make for a great break and time to celebrate the season for the members of the team and the employees before the players have a brutal seven-games over 12 days.

Danny and his teammates were all extremely pleased with how many of the employees showed up for their event. Danny said “This dinner was just a small token of appreciation for what all of our employees do for us.”


Danny Granger, Pacers host dinner for employees

By: Sarah Layne

On Sunday night, Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger hosted a dinner for many part-time Bankers Life Fieldhouse employees.  The event, which Granger tweeted about in October, served to show his respect and gratitude toward those workers who suffered from no pay during the 149-day lockout. 

Granger, accompanied by Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel and teammates, shared how this idea came to mind.   He was driving in the car with his wife, during a time at which the lockout was starting to bring visions of a season, when she raised the question, “What about all the workers who rely on games to have jobs?”

“When she said that, I really realized that those are the people who are being overlooked in this whole thing,” Granger said.  “As a team, we do a lot for the community and fans.  We go to schools and everything, but we have never done anything for the workers, and those are the ones who really help us.”

Originally, Granger wanted to honor the employees by renting out a restaurant in downtown Indianapolis.  With the lockout still in effect, he was unable to communicate with Pacers staff to gain knowledge of an accurate number of guests.

“In my mind, I didn’t realize how many workers we had,” said Granger, who recently led the Pacers past the Celtics, scoring 21 points in Saturday night’s 97-83 win.  “I thought, ‘Oh, maybe 150 people.’”

When Granger learned that the employee count consisted of about 350 more than his estimate, he developed an alternative idea to hold a dinner on the Pacers practice court. 

“I’ve had so many personal experiences with many of you guys in here,” said Granger, speaking to the workers. 

Granger shared a story about one of the chefs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse making his favorite banana cream pie, often upon his request, so that he could share them with his family.

“Around Christmas time, he made me four or five.  He didn’t charge me—he just brought them in.”

Another fond memory Granger shared with the employees was a pre-game recurrence.

“Whenever I came out to shoot before games, there was a woman there and she always said, ‘Danny, you’re going to score 33 tonight!’” Granger said.  “And I would always say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to score 33 tonight.’  She said that to me for years.”

Granger said that when those memories started coming back to him, he was reminded about the unsung efforts those workers exhibit. 

To further show his gratitude, Granger raffled off numerous Pacers prizes, including a team-autographed foam finger and a basketball signed by forward David West.  The team also challenged the employees to a basketball game after dinner.

“Basketball in Indiana is special,” said Sandi Townsend, 59, who is an usher at the Fieldhouse.  “It doesn’t matter if it’s grade school, high school or professional, basketball is Indiana’s game.  Indiana fans love basketball, and we love our players.”

The employees made it clear that they cherished Granger’s thoughtfulness.

“It just means a lot that the professional players would take the time out of their busy schedules and come down here to meet, talk to us and share their appreciation with us,” Townsend said.  “I get to see the games a lot, and that is a reward for me, but this is just special that they have reached out.  They seem to be having a good time, and that’s what Indiana basketball is.”

Quentin Cox, 44, an employee most recognizable at Bankers Life for his dedication to serving food in sections 11 and12, also enjoyed his time at the dinner. 

“I’ve been working here for 13 years, and they’ve never done this before,” Cox said.  “The turnout was a great success, and I was also able to talk to some of the players.  It was just great.”

Granger said he was pleased with the amount of workers who came to the dinner and believed it showed they were thankful for his gesture. 

“You guys are so important to us,” Granger told the guests, “and we really appreciate it.”