Roy Hibbert is upset.
The big man tweeted this yesterday after the Pacers big road win in L.A.:
No disrespect but come on. We slip past them? Click the link n my boys get no highlights. Dunks r nice wins r better pic.twitter.com/rDX5knwlj5— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) December 2, 2013
He's right. The Pacers led for most of that game by 8-12 points. They held off a late Clippers' rally, but only trailed twice the entire afternoon. They won, and were the better team for about 42 of the 48 minutes.
All of that said, I couldn’t possibly care less about what ESPN says about the Pacers.
The Pacers are off to a 16-1 start. They just kicked off a five-game road swing by handing the preseason Western Conference #2 favorite (according to Vegas) their second home loss of the year. They lead the league in the two biggest defensive categories (points allowed and opponent FG%) by a huge margin. Indiana isn't some plucky upstart hoping to get to 50 wins and the Conference Semifinals. They're a legitimate NBA Title contender. They’ve officially graduated from caring about what their perception is nationally.
Despite winning four championships and reaching five NBA Finals in the last fifteen years, the Spurs have lived off of the national radar. You think Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich care about the exposure they get on ESPN? No. It’s not about that for them. They have a goal, and it isn’t getting “national love” – it’s winning championships. That’s what winning teams care about.
If the Pacers want to be flashy and get their highlights on SportsCenter, they can trade places with the Clippers, who burn out in the First Round of the playoffs every year. Would Indiana prefer to be the Knicks? I see them on SportsCenter all the time. They’ve lost nine straight and are in last place in the NBA’s worst division. It’s a shame the Pacers aren’t talked about as much as the Lakers, who are a sinking ship, led by an aging, overpaid, and injured Kobe Bryant and a roster of cast-offs. Man, I wish the Blue and Gold could trade places with those guys!
I like that Hibbert gets fired up, and that the team plays with a chip on their shoulder. Terrific. But, the days of sweating the small stuff are over. If the Pacers and their fans regard themselves a championship-level team, it's time for them to focus solely on that goal rather than worrying about what the folks in Bristol think.