Their 101-94 win over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday night notwithstanding, the Indiana Pacers are a mess—“spiraling” and “splintering,” as center Roy Hibbert put it after his team's loss to the Spurs Monday night, per NBA.com.
Head coach Frank Vogel would like Hibbert—and everyone else in the Indy locker room, for that matter—to please keep those thoughts and feelings in-house. You know, like adults. Which these people ostensibly are. Per Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, Vogel said:
It bothers me. Guys should never air in-house stuff to the media. I talked to the team about it today (Wednesday)… It was a weird thing. Roy said it a couple of days ago (after the Washington loss) and nobody really caught onto it until (recently). So I made sure to tell them that A) I don't believe we have 'selfish dudes' in our locker room and B) whatever you might want to say about your teammates, don't say it to the media. We have to get that stopped.
There’s a genuine logic to Vogel’s thinking, of course. The last thing you want this late in the season with your team reeling and the playoffs looming ever larger is for bad blood to hijack what has been, on the whole, a promising season for the Pacers.
Situated as they are in a statistical dead heat with the Miami Heat for the East’s top spot, the Pacers still have a chance to finish the season with a bang and begin their quest for the franchise’s first NBA title since joining the league in 1976.
But they’ve got a lot of chinks to mend and cracks to seal before they can even think of escaping the Eastern Conference fray, most notably the ones involving the guy slinging all the dirt. From Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley:
Hibbert would lead us to believe ... that he's the offensive machine Pacers fans see when the Miami Heat are on the schedule (17.0 points in three games against the two-time defending champs), and not the one whose season stat line bears a striking resemblance to—wait for it—former draft flop Kwame Brown.
There’s a good chance Vogel and Hibbert have talked about this in person, of course. That’s what denizens of a decent organization do—and the Indiana Pacers are nothing if not that.
Let’s be honest. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll find ourselves laughing about this a month from now when the Pacers are bludgeoning their conference semifinal foes en route to their inevitable showdown with Miami.
In the meantime, however, let’s all remember that just because some adults are talented enough to play a kid’s game for a living, this doesn’t always stop them from acting a bit immature.