As talked about here
, and here
, the Pacers held a cookout at Larry Bird's summer home for their season ticket holders. Through sheer luck (and thanks to my buddy G-Mo) I managed to attend and, completely out of character for this site, I can't say a single bad thing about it. It was quite awesome. I'd rank it up there with the invention of Guinness, the thong, the barbecued pig, and whatever else you wanna name.
I approached the event with what is commonly referred to as "cautious enthusiasm", which is fully realizing the cavernous gap in between how spectacular a given event should
be, and the disappointing soul-crushing flop it could
be. And I began to realize this when we were at the check-in. I had no idea the Pacers' target demographic were retirees and grandmothers. But, then again, these are also the unwavering, die-hard Pacers fans that have fondly remember the ABA championship days and stuck with the team through good times and bad. Especially the bad. But I boarded the shuttle not completely sure if we were going to a cookout or to Old Country Buffet to play bingo.
After an hour on the short bus, cynicism was in full force. Would any players even be
at this thing? My doubts were shot down like a JJ Redick trade demand when Larry Bird and Jeff Foster were waiting at the end of the driveway, welcoming guests and taking pictures. Larry greeted us with a handshake and a slap on the shoulder. 14-year-old-fanboy-from-1989-mode was in full effect.
But that's not all. Jim O'Brien, Mike Dunleavy, Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush, Josh McRoberts and Quinn Buckner were all there as well. And it was an unusually personable environment, probably even more casual than your annual office Christmas party. Burgers and margaritas. Players roaming around, taking photos and chatting it up with the fans. G-Mo half-jokingly asked Foster to put him in a headlock for a photo, which he of course did.As a side note: I hope Roy Hibbert cleans house this season, if only because he's so damn likable. He's about as unassuming as a 7'2" millionaire can possibly be. One fan mentioned he saw Roy fishing in Larry's backyard lake (Yes. Backyard lake. Larry's house is ginormous.) and he nearly impaled an elderly gentleman with the lure. Roy and G-Mo found they both have a fondness of commercialized Mexican cuisine. A good time was had by all.
In summary, it was undeniably cool. It was a level of player accessibility I didn't know existed. But I could be wrong. Have you had any "NBA players are just plain ol' folks" moments? Tell us about it in the comments!
Labels: fan loyalty, Indiana Pacers, Larry Bird