Tag Archives: Victor Oladipo

Indiana and Basketball: A Love Renewed

What has been the most exciting and fulfilling Pacers’ season in years has finally come to an end. What started with confusion, anger, and frustration towards a former player ended with young stars looking towards the future. Somehow losing the franchise’s arguably most talented player in history was a blessing in disguise.

A group primarily made of players who had been given up on or looked over their entire careers, just took one of the greatest players of all-time to the brink of elimination. But more than that, this group brought something back to the people of Indiana that had seemingly escaped this basketball-frenzy state. A sense of “togetherness” that captured the attention of Hoosiers from Elkhart to Evansville. A togetherness that is rare as in professional sports as the caliber of player that eliminated the Pacers in the first round.

What is this togetherness that has echoed the Pacers locker room since late last summer? It’s indescribable, but Hoosiers can sense it from a mile away. It’s a “we above me” mindset, it’s putting the team first and letting individual accolades come as they may. It’s about striving for something that seems out of reach, too good to be true, and not letting the challenge overtake the journey. It’s Victor Oladipo talking about this franchise as if it’s part of his immediate family. It’s Myles Turner’s resilience when the critics (me included) hounded him about his inconsistency. It’s the resolve of the entire team that seemed to always comeback from a double-digit deficit and at minimum make the game interesting. It’s Lance Stephenson’s… well I don’t know, but Lance was Born Ready and born to play basketball in Indiana. He loves the game like only a Hoosier can. It’s the moment when seemingly all 15 Pacer players rushed to help pick up Cory Joseph after driving to the hoop. Actually, let me correct that, it’s when Pacers fans across the state saw that moment and recognized it from memories past.

Cory Joseph
Photo by Pacers Sports and Entertainment

Maybe you recognized it from playing pick-up at your local park during a hot summer day in the Hoosier state. Maybe you recognized it from an Indiana high school sectional final during a brisk February night. Maybe you recognized it from your child’s YMCA league. But wherever you recognized it from, you knew one thing to be true, it was Indiana through and through.

For the past few years Pacer fans have had to do something that we are just not comfortable with. Balancing between supporting our hometown team that plays the sport that grew up here, while knowing that our star player, deep down, had no interest in being the hero we wanted and him to be. I did it, we all did it. We justified his attitude, made excuses for his comments to the press, and went above and beyond to make him feel wanted, and it wasn’t enough. We all remember that Woj notification last summer, “Paul George plans to leave Pacers”. The weeks of angst that followed and eventually the OKC trade that critics everywhere criticized until local police twitter accounts became pundits.

Close to a year later, no one is cracking jokes. The Pacers demanded everyone’s respect in their round one playoff series, they demanded your attention. Not because of their star power or their flashiness, but because of their togetherness. Their abilities and potential as a unit. The energy that connected Pacers fans with an energy and passion that had been dormant for too long. A rejuvenated spirit that only basketball can seem to bring to the state of Indiana. A sense of togetherness that goes beyond Oladipo and Turner, that moves through the young kids watching on TV or listening on the radio, that brings chills and goosebumps to those in the seats of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Yes, this Indiana team has started a new era of Pacers basketball, but more importantly, this group has brought basketball back to where it needs to be: front and center in the hearts and minds of Hoosiers everywhere.

Together, they have put the NBA on notice.

The Indiana Pacers are back, and so is basketball in Indiana.

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Victor Oladipo contacted his off-season trainer just minutes after losing Game 7

“I don’t know how to take time off,” Victor Oladipo told a reporter after Game 7.

No kidding. About 16 minutes after the Pacers season ended with the Game 7 defeat to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oladipo texted his trainer about getting started on his workouts.

“When do we start?” Oladipo texted the trainer. “I’m ready to take it to another level.”

His trainer posted the message on Instagram.

His off-season workouts last season were a huge part of his success this year. He started eating right, famously quitting his favorite food joint Popeyes, and got into the best shape of his life. The Indiana Pacers couldn’t be happier with the player that Oladipo has become this season and he’s never satisfied, always looking to improve.

“Honestly, I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of how good I can be,” he said after today’s game.

 

Can the Indiana Pacers rise above expectations one more time and dethrone LeBron James?

The Indiana Pacers were supposed to win 30 games this year. Every media outlet said so. Even Kevin Pritchard, the person who built this roster, admitted that their expectations were similarly low on the televised broadcast of Game 1 in this series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

They’ve been shocking everyone since the beginning of the season. Can they do it one more time in a road Game 7 against the best player in the world in LeBron James?

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Victor Oladipo of the deciding game after the Pacers blowout win in Game 6. “There’s nothing wrong with a little challenge. Obviously, it’s a big challenge ahead but we’re looking forward to the game.”

Oladipo has relished the challenges all season and has done it with impressive positivity. He’s become a franchise cornerstone, making his first All-Star team and setting career highs in basically every meaningful statistic, while claiming Indianapolis as his city and the fanbase has happily enjoyed the ride and embraced him completely.

Continue reading Can the Indiana Pacers rise above expectations one more time and dethrone LeBron James?

The Pacers blew a golden opportunity but the series isn’t over

The table couldn’t have been set any better for the Indiana Pacers to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night.

George Hill was out of the game with back spasms, moving Jose Calderon, who didn’t play at all in Game 3, into the starting lineup. Kevin Love started the game with two quick fouls in the first quarter, forcing Tristan Thompson, who has been out of the Cavs rotation all series, into action.

But as the Pacers still couldn’t figure out their slow start problem and Cleveland built another double-digit lead in the first half for the third consecutive game, Indiana couldn’t complete the second-half comeback for the second time in four games.

Continue reading The Pacers blew a golden opportunity but the series isn’t over

The Pacers might shock the world but they aren’t shocking themselves

The Indiana Pacers are like the fictional African nation of Wakanda from Black Panther. Everyone else in the world thinks they are one thing, just a place you don’t need to worry about, live practice for a first-round contender, but now they’re shocking the basketball world with revelations of their elite technology and weapons that give them a chance against anyone as they go into the fourth game of the series with a 2-1 lead over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Indiana has been staying in obscurity all season, lurking in the shadows, appearing only once on national television.

Except the Pacers have been showing this all year. They weren’t trying to keep this a secret like Wakanda. They beat Cleveland three times this season. They swept the Golden State Warriors. It’s just no one was paying attention or perhaps not taking them seriously enough as a threat to care.

Continue reading The Pacers might shock the world but they aren’t shocking themselves

How will the Indiana Pacers respond to these possible adjustments by Cleveland?

The Indiana Pacers aren’t just happy to be in the playoffs. Victor Oladipo and company have been saying for awhile that they want to make a run in the postseason and shock the world.

The Pacers thoroughly destroyed the Cavaliers in Game 1 while introducing themselves to the national audience, but everyone knows a LeBron James-led team isn’t going down easy, especially in the first round.

Cavs coach Ty Lue will likely be ready with adjustments and how Pacers coach Nate McMillan and his staff are able to respond to those will determine how successful they can be through the rest of the series.

Here are a few likely adjustments from the Cavaliers and what the options are from there for the Pacers:

Continue reading How will the Indiana Pacers respond to these possible adjustments by Cleveland?

The Indiana Pacers introduce themselves to a national audience

For many NBA fans, yesterday’s blowout win for the Indiana Pacers over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first game of the series was an introduction to the team.

They were on national television exactly one time this season.

NBA fans, this is Indiana. Game 1 is what they’ve been doing to teams all year.

“We’ve been playing like this all year,” said Victor Oladipo, who finished with 32 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and a block. “We’ve been playing hard on both ends all year. It just hasn’t been magnified. It’s the playoffs now … and everybody sees it, so it’s kind of shocking to everybody I guess you would say.”

Continue reading The Indiana Pacers introduce themselves to a national audience

Oladipo’s positivity pushes the Pacers to surprising season

The Indiana Pacers have a chance to finish with 49 wins tomorrow night. It’s hard to find any outlet that predicted they win more than 35 games and no one was picking them to make the playoffs let alone finish the regular season as a top-5 seed.

It’s no coincidence that the best ways to describe the season and the team are all with positive adjectives:

  1. Fun
  2. Resilient
  3. Together
  4. Surprising

The positivity shines through from the Pacers leader and All Star Victor Oladipo and it’s affected the entire team.

“He’s one of the most positive teammates I’ve ever had,” Thaddeus Young recently said. “I think a lot of the stuff we’re able to do this year is from his positivity.”

Continue reading Oladipo’s positivity pushes the Pacers to surprising season

Victor Oladipo says he’ll eat Popeyes again when the Pacers win the championship

After the Indiana Pacers dominated against the Golden State Warriors, Victor Oladipo was asked about his old favorite fried chicken joint, Popeyes.

“I ain’t had that in so long,” Oladipo told the reporter. “Don’t mention that.”

Oladipo said he hadn’t had it in around a year, but that he may have it for a special occasion over the summer.

It would be shocking if the Pacers won the NBA title to just about everybody outside of that locker room, but they’ve been shocking the world all season.

Side note: Oladipo’s claim that he last ate Popeyes about a year ago appears to be false as he seems to have eaten it over the All-Star break according to this Sports Illustrated article:

Over the next 96 hours, he would host one party at a club with Cardi B, another with Snoop Dogg and Floyd Mayweather. He’d sing with Jamie Foxx, dunk with Black Panther and toast Michael Jordan’s birthday at a $100 million mansion in Bel-Air. He’d play Jenga in a sneaker store stock room with someone who goes by The Shiggy Show, an apt moniker for the weekend, and he’d dance alone in front of 1,000 people at a practice. He’d eat sushi from Katsuya and chicken from Popeyes. He’d ride in enough Mercedes Sprinters to fill a presidential motorcade, protected by three security guards and primped by two stylists. They would present him with approximately 40 ensembles, a dozen of which he would wear. He’d wake up early to toss 12-pound medicine balls and do plyometric pushups in the J.W. Marriott fitness center, and at 9 a.m. Sunday, he’d watch online the weekly sermon delivered by Pastor John K. Jenkins at First Baptist Church of Glenarden back home in Maryland.

The Indiana Pacers blowout the defending champs

INDIANAPOLIS–The Indiana Pacers blew out the defending champion Golden State Warriors by 20 points and swept the season series 2-0.

Now, read that again. Pinch yourself. This is not a dream. It’s just another day in what’s been a terrific season.

Yes, the Warriors didn’t have Steph Curry tonight and this game won’t affect their playoff seeding. This game meant basically nothing to the Warriors. No one cares. This was an impressive effort.

“I thought it was a big test tonight,” said Head Coach Nate McMillan. “I was really looking forward to playing them with their roster tonight, just to see where we were.”

Continue reading The Indiana Pacers blowout the defending champs

Glenn Robinson III to return Friday, Victor Oladipo’s unused dunk revealed

The wait is almost over. Glenn Robinson III will return to game action for the first time with the Indiana Pacers this season.

After his first full practice with the team, Pacers Coach Nate McMillan said he looked great and much improved from last season.

Continue reading Glenn Robinson III to return Friday, Victor Oladipo’s unused dunk revealed

How Victor Oladipo sets the pace for the Pacers

Nothing speaks louder for Victor Oladipo’s impact on the Indiana Pacers than his team’s record with and without him.

With him, the Indiana Pacers are 33-19.

Without him, they are 0-6. Simply put: no Victor, no victories.

One of the biggest differences that he makes when he’s playing is how much faster Pacers play. While the impact is only little over a couple of possessions per game when he’s on the floor, that’s the difference between ranking 16th in pace overall when he’s on the court and 26th when he’s off the court.

Continue reading How Victor Oladipo sets the pace for the Pacers

By surpassing expectations, the Pacers earn the chance to stick together

Kevin Pritchard has had a long career working in NBA front offices, but this year’s deadline was different than the rest.

Six players came to the Pacers President of Basketball Operations and told him to keep this team together, which be said had never happened before in his basketball life. One player in particular made a strong plea for the group.

“We deserve to see this thing through,” said the mystery player according to Pritchard. “No one believed in us. No one thought we’d be any good. We deserve this.”

Continue reading By surpassing expectations, the Pacers earn the chance to stick together

Victor Oladipo puts on yet another show as Pacers beat Knicks

INDIANAPOLIS–Victor Oladipo flirted with a triple double. Lance Stephenson rocked out on the air guitar a few times during a fourth-quarter run. It was just your typical night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse as the Indiana Pacers (32-25) took care of business against the undermanned New York Knicks (23-34) with a 121-113 victory.

The Pacers defense was a little late to the game after giving up 37 points in the first quarter and 62 at halftime but they still led by six at the break.

“We still didn’t establish ourselves defensively, certainly not in that first half,” said Pacers Coach Nate McMillan. “If we weren’t scoring and shooting the ball at such a high percentage, this could have been a different outcome.”

Continue reading Victor Oladipo puts on yet another show as Pacers beat Knicks

It’s official: Victor Oladipo will participate in the dunk contest

The Indiana Pacers confirmed the rumors tonight: Victor Oladipo will participate in the NBA’s Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend.

Oladipo, the first-time All Star, will defend the Pacers reigning dunk title as Glenn Robinson III will be unable to do so himself as he continues to make strides in his rehab from ankle surgery.

The other participants will be Aaron Gordon, Dennis Smith Jr. and Larry Nance Jr.

Oladipo has been in a dunk contest before when he did a 540 and finished in second.

All-Star weekend will be a “field trip” for Oladipo and Sabonis

The Indiana Pacers will be well represented in the NBA All-Star weekend events this year as Victor Oladipo was selected as an Eastern Conference representative and Domantas Sabonis was chosen to play in the Rising Stars Challenge as a member of Team World.

“It’s just like when your brother is going with you on a school field trip or something,” Oladipo said of having his teammate with him. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it.”

Continue reading All-Star weekend will be a “field trip” for Oladipo and Sabonis

With Kemba Walker available, should the Pacers make a deal?

Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has been made available in trades according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Hornets would be looking to unload one of their bad contracts (they have a lot of them) in any potential deal that included Walker, who is averaging 21.7 points and 5.8 assists, according to Wojnarowski.

Any time an All-Star caliber player (Walker was selected as an All Star last season), every team, including the Indiana Pacers, has to consider whether or not they should pursue that player. Kevin Pritchard and company will have to do their due diligence and weigh the pros and the cons of any possible Walker deal.

Continue reading With Kemba Walker available, should the Pacers make a deal?

Victor Oladipo is everything the Indiana Pacers could have possibly hoped he’d be and more

You might be surprised at Victor Oladipo’s performance this year, but he isn’t.

He expected to be this good.

“Y’all might be surprised,” Oladipo told reporters after his 47-point night against the Denver Nuggets earlier this season. “I put in the work. I work every day. I have no limit to how hard I work. I’m trying to be great. There’s no in-between and I can’t settle for anything less.”

He did try to warn us.

Continue reading Victor Oladipo is everything the Indiana Pacers could have possibly hoped he’d be and more

The Indiana Pacers can’t stop making comebacks

The Indiana Pacers were down 34-12 at the end of the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We all should have known at this point what would happen next.

The Pacers came back to defeat LeBron James and the Cavaliers behind a spark from Bankers Life Fieldhouse’s own court jester, Lance Stephenson, and yet another big shot from Victor Oladipo.

Continue reading The Indiana Pacers can’t stop making comebacks

An iPacers Tale: King Victor Returns

Disclaimer: None of what you are about to read is real. The quotes are imagined. The scenes are fiction. The characters are real(ish). Welcome to an iPacers tale.

If you missed the first episode:

FADE IN:

THREE DAYS EARLIER
INT: LOCKERS OF VISITORS IN THE REALM OF DEER AKA BMO HARRIS BRADLEY CENTER

The Pacers of the Round Ball have just lost their fifth straight game by a final score of 122-101 to the Bucks of Milwaukee. The Pacers sit dejected and in silence, pondering how to fix all that’s gone wrong. King Victor has been gone for a fortnight while tending to a wounded knee and the team has suffered many defeats in his absence.

SIR NATE MCMILLAN, THE KING’S HAND: 
We have fallen yet again. What more can be said? We don’t know how to defend our goal, how to attack their basket. We have forgotten who we are.

Continue reading An iPacers Tale: King Victor Returns