NBA India Games 2019

NBA India Games 2019: Looking back at the history of the Indiana Pacers franchise

Indiana Pacers logo at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana Pacers logo at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Getty Images)

On Dec. 20, history was made when the NBA announced its first-ever NBA India Games 2019.

The announcement stated that the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers will face off twice in two days on October 4th and 5th, 2019 for the first-ever NBA preseason games in India.

It's time to get to know each of these teams better. It's time to take a trip down memory lane with the Indiana Pacers:

ABA Dominance [1967-1976]

Established in 1967, the Indiana Pacers are considered the most successful franchise in ABA history.

Led by superstars like Mel Daniels, George McGinnis, Rick Mount, Roger Brown, Bob Netolicky, and Freddie Lewis, the team won three championships [1970, 1972 & 1973] in four years and appeared in five of the ABA's nine Finals [a league record].

More: NBA India Games 2019 - History of the Sacramento Kings

Early struggles in NBA [1976-1989]

After the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, the Pacers were stricken with financial troubles that led to a lack of continuity for close to a decade.

In their first thirteen seasons in the league, Indiana only had one winning campaign (1980-81) when they sealed the last Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They were eliminated in the first round of the Playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers in a 2-0 sweep.

The tide began to turn a couple of years after they drafted a skinny kid from UCLA as the 11th pick in the famed 1987 Draft in Reggie Miller.

The Reggie Miller era [1987-2005]

It took the first couple of years of Millers' career for the Pacers to make some noise and qualify for the postseason.

From 1989 till the end of Miller's career (2004-05), Indiana, under six different head coaches (Dick Versace, Bob, Hill, Larry Brown, Larry Bird, Rick Carlisle, and Isiah Thomas), made the Playoffs all but one year (1996-97). Five of those 16 postseason appearances ended agonizingly in the Conference Finals (1994, 95, 98, 99, 04). In three of the five Conference Finals appearances, the Pacers were eliminated in the most disappointing fashion possible - a Game 7.

The one year they made it out of the Eastern Conference, they were beaten in the 2000 NBA Finals by the Western Conference Champions - the Los Angeles Lakers - in six games.

Miller considered the greatest Pacer ever, accumulated 25,279 points at 47.1% shooting in 1389 regular season games. As things stand, he ranks second on the all-time list for most three's made with 2560, second only to Ray Allen's 2973.

Within a year of his retirement, on Mar. 30, 2006, the Pacers retired Miller's #31 to the rafters to hang alongside the likes of George McGinnis (#30), Mel Daniel (#34), Roger Brown (#34), and Slick Leonard (#529.)

Miller was later inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

Danny Granger & Paul George era [2007-2017]

After Miller retired, the Pacers only made the postseason once in five years and it was a first-round exit at the hands of the New Jersey Nets in 2006.

The real revival began in 2010 with the player selected in that year's Draft - Paul George. Danny Granger had carried the franchise post-Miller but the lack of Playoff achievement was a dent in his resume with the franchise.

Once George arrived, Granger teamed up with him to slowly but surely turn the Pacers into a perennial Playoff team. Riding George's play for a majority of this span, Indiana made six postseasons in seven years from 2010 onwards. The one season (2014-15) they failed to make the Playoffs was when George was recovering from a broken leg injury and had only played six games.

The highlight of these seven years was the team's back-to-back appearance in the Conference Finals - 2013 & 2014, each time losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Larry Bird was the mastermind behind this roster and it all began in 2012 when everybody recognised and honored the 3-time Champion with the Executive of the Year Award. The achievement made him the only player in NBA history to have been named league MVP, coach of the year and executive of the year.

Towards the end of his second contract with the team, it seemed like George wanted to move on. Instead of losing him for nothing, the Pacers traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, the duo being a huge part of the team's current success.

Victor Oladipo era.....

During Victor Oladipo's two seasons in Indiana, the Pacers have gone 96-68 (.585), far beyond anybody's expectations, especially after the Paul George trade. In fact, Oladipo led the team to a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 1 of the 2018 Playoffs.

Since his arrival in Indiana, Oladipo seems to have completely transformed himself and it's spurring the team to get better and better.

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