12-8 • 4th in EASTERN CONFERENCE
The Indiana Pacers are an American professional basketball team that plays in the Central Division of the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference. The Pacers were established in 1967 and they play their home games in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.
Prior to the NBA merger in 1976, the Pacers plied their trade in the ABA during their early years. They dominated the league as soon as they arrived, making five trips to the ABA Finals in their first eight seasons. This resulted in three ABA titles for the Pacers (1970, 1972, and 1973). Indiana, however, has not won a championship in the NBA.
There have been more than a few great players that have taken part in the Pacers' rich history through the years. Among them are the likes of Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal, Rik Smits, Dale Davis, and Mark Jackson. Other players who have likewise earned legendary status with the franchise include Chuck Person, Vern Flemming, and Billy Knight.
Over the past few years, the Pacers have established themselves as perennial playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference. They are currently on a five-year postseason streak (six years if you count the upcoming 2021 playoffs), and they've only missed the postseason cut once since 2011. Unfortunately, all five of their recent trips to the playoffs have resulted in first-round exits. They haven't been able to take the next step and make a deep run into the postseason.
6-foot-11 big man Domantas Sabonis has emerged as Indiana's cornerstone star. Sabonis joined the Pacers in 2017 as part of the Paul George trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Playing alongside him in Indiana's frontcourt is Myles Turner, who the Pacers selected 11th overall in 2015.
Other key players on the squad right now are former Rookie of the Year winner Malcolm Brogdon (traded from the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019) and Caris LeVert, who joined the Pacers in January of this year as part of a blockbuster four-team trade that centered around James Harden making the move to the Brooklyn Nets.
According to NBA.com, the franchise decided to name its team the "Pacers" in honor of Indiana's renowned history with harness racing pacers as well as the Indianapolis 500, which features pace cars during its races.
The term was coined in 1967 when the team was first established, originally in the ABA. The decision was made by the franchise's original investors.
Last year, Indiana's season came to a disappointing end after they were unceremoniously eliminated by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers were actually the fourth seed in that matchup, which made defeat even more frustrating. To make matters worse, the Heat absolutely dominated them en route to a 4-0 series sweep.
The Pacers enter the new season with high hopes as they look to redeem what was ultimately a wasted season in 2020. At this point, however, it does not feel like this team has what it takes to go all the way to the Finals.
Indiana will be relying heavily on the success of their two best players this season, Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon. Sabonis, in particular, is a star in his own right, but he has yet to establish himself as a true superstar in the NBA.
The arrival of Caris LeVert is another step in the right direction for the Pacers, and guys like TJ Warren and Myles Turner are a couple of key players that will also help lead Indiana to success.
Nevertheless, this Pacers squad does not appear to be equipped to battle against star-studded squads such as the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. Indiana will also need to contend against teams like the Heat, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers to at least challenge those top two teams.
Right now, it seems that Indiana is one (or two?) superstars away from becoming a true contender in the Eastern Conference.
One of Indiana's most significant transactions in recent years was the Paul George trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder. After many years serving as the franchise's cornerstone superstar, it was time for George to move on in the summer of 2017 with Oklahoma City emerging as his destination of choice. In exchange, the Thunder received a star in the making in Victor Oladipo and a then-21-year-old Domantas Sabonis. Oladpio was the centerpiece of that deal for the Pacers, but as it turns out, Sabonis turned out to be the true prize for Indiana.
At this point in his career, Sabonis is already considered as one of the top big men in the league. The 6-foot-11 center earned his first call up to the All-Star team in 2020 after putting up career-best averages of 18.5 points (on 54.0 percent shooting), 12.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in a huge breakout year.
2020-21 could be the season that Domantas, son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, takes his game to the next level. There's no denying that he has shown potential to become Indiana's cornerstone stud, and this season might just be the year that he earns his stripes.
The Pacers have already committed their future to the 24-year-old, signing him on a four-year $77 million extension in 2019 which will have him remain in Indiana until at least 2024. Sabonis is already paying dividends on his big-money deal, and it goes without saying that his individual development will have a significant impact on the Pacers' success over the next few years.
According to Forbes, the Pacers have a net worth of $1.55 billion as of February 2021.
The Pacers are currently owned by Herbert Simon, who first purchased the franchise back in 1983. At that time, Simon shelled out just $10.5 million to own the rights for the team.
Forbes lists the Pacers' revenue (for the 2019-20 season) to be at $217 million over an operating income of $39 million.
The current owner of the Indiana Pacers franchise is Herbert Simon, an American billionaire who made his fortune in the real estate industry.
Simon, a native of the Bronx in New York City, purchased the Pacers in 1983 for a sum of $10.5 million from previous owners Sam Nassi and Frank Mariani. Simon also owns the WNBA's Indiana Fever.
Steve Simon, Herb's eldest son, is the heir to the franchise.
The Pacers come into the 2020-21 season with renewed hopes. This includes a new man at the helm for Indiana, with the front office deciding to bring on Nate Bjorkgren as the team's new head coach.
Bjorkgren has no prior experience as a head coach in the NBA, with the 45-year-old serving as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors over the past four seasons. Bjorkgren was notably part of Nick Nurse's coaching staff as they led the Raptors to that historic championship run in 2019.
Preceding Bjorkgren as Indiana’s head coach was Nate McMillan, who spent four seasons at the helm for the Pacers amassing a 183-136 record.
During the offseason, the Pacers parted ways with long-time head coach Nate McMillan. Indiana's front office took a considerable gamble by bringing in a rookie coach to take over the helm. 45-year-old Nate Bjorkgren, who had been an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors in the previous four years, was the man the Pacers deemed worthy of the recently-vacated post.
Under Bjorkgren are a number of assistants who will help him navigate through his rookie year as an NBA head coach, including Kaleb Canales, Bill Bayno, and Tyler Marsh. Bjorkgren also has a couple of former NBA players working under him in Greg Foster and Calbert Cheaney, who is also assigned as a player development coach.
In February of 2021, Bayno resigned from his role, citing mental health.
Having led the team to three NBA titles -- all of which came during the ABA era -- Slick Leonard is widely considered as the greatest head coach in Pacers franchise history.
In Leonard's first full season with the Pacers (1969-70), he led the team to the first of three memorable championships. Under Leonard's watch, Indiana went on to win the title two more times in the next three years (1972 and 1973).
In eight seasons with the squad, Leonard amassed a total win-loss record of 387 wins against 270 losses. He currently holds the franchise record for most regular-season wins. For all of his contributions to the sport, Leonard was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach in 2014.
Second on our list is Frank Vogel, who spent six years at the helm in Indiana. Before being promoted as the team's head coach in 2011, Vogel served as an assistant for the Pacers for four years under Jim O'Brien.
Vogel, who recently won the title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, logged 250 regular-season wins during his time in Indiana, good for second all-time. Vogel also led the Pacers to the postseason five times in six years, including back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014.
A couple of other greats who held the head coaching duties for the Pacers organization are Larry Brown and Larry Bird. Brown, who led the Pacers to the Conference Finals in his first two years at the helm, amassed 190 wins during his four-year tenure in Indiana. Bird, on the other hand, was awarded as the league's Coach of the Year in 1998 after leading his team to a 58-win season. The Pacers went all the way to the Finals in 1999-2000, only to be defeated by the three-peat-seeking Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
We start our list with All-Star point guard Mark Jackson, who spent six years with the Pacers in two separate stints. After joining Indiana in 1994, the team traded him to the Denver Nuggets in 1996 as part of a deal that saw Reggie Miller come to Indiana. The Pacers loved Jackson so much that they decided to get him back from Indiana in a mid-season trade just eight months later. It turned out to be an excellent decision by the Pacers, as Jackson ended up leading the league in assists that year.
Another all-time Pacer great is 6-foot-11 center Jermaine O'Neal, whose 1,245 blocks are the most in franchise history. O'Neal spent eight seasons with the Pacers, joining the team in 2000 to play alongside Miller in the twilight of Reggie’s career. During that span, O'Neal was named to the All-Star squad six straight years.
For the younger generations, there is no greater Pacer than Paul George, who almost miraculously resurrected his career after one of the most gruesome leg injuries in sports history. PG-13 was Indiana's cornerstone superstar of the 2010s and he put the team on his back for seven unforgettable seasons. During that span, George led the Pacers to six playoff appearances, including back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014.
We turn the clock back all the way to the 1970s for Hall of Famer George McGinnis, who spent seven seasons with the franchise in two separate stints. In just his first two seasons with the Pacers, McGinnis led the team to back-to-back ABA championships in 1972 and 1973. He is one of only six Indiana players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Last but certainly not least is the great Reggie Miller, who many consider as the greatest player in franchise history. Miller currently holds the franchise record in games played (1,389), minutes played (47,619), three-pointers (2,560), free throws (6,237), assists (4,141), steals (1,505), and points (25,279). Miller is also regarded as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, and while he never won a championship in his decorated 18-year career -- all with the Pacers -- it's hard to argue against the notion that Miller is the Pacers franchise’s GOAT.
The Pacers currently have five players who have the honor of their jersey number being retired by the franchise. All five are all-time greats, and there is no doubt that they've achieved legendary status for Pacers fans everywhere.
Melvin Joe Daniels and Roger William Brown were two central figures of the Pacers’ ABA dynasty. Together, this pair led the team to three titles in four years between 1970 and 1973.
George McGinnis, who himself is considered as one of the greatest players in franchise history, joined Indiana in 1971 and took part in two out of the three aforementioned title runs. Along with Daniels, McGinnis is the only other Pacers player with an MVP award (1975 - ABA).
Regarded by many as the GOAT, Reggie Miller is perhaps the legend among legends in Pacers folklore. Miller, one of the greatest shooters in league history, leads the team in several all-time franchise records including games played, three-pointers made, assists, steals, and points.
Slick Leonard never played a single game for the Pacers, but he still got his number retired: 529. That is how many wins the legendary coach amassed throughout an illustrious coaching career. Leonard was at the helm for the franchise for all three of its championships, including a memorable title run as a rookie coach in 1970. Leonard was inducted to the Hall of Fame as a coach in 2014.