Commentary

Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 96

Indiana Pacers

Updated: July 1, 2009, 12:19 PM ET
By Andy Kamenetzky | ESPN The Magazine

Last Year's Rank: 112
Title Track: 111
Ownership: 92
Coaching: 104
Players: 94
Fan Relations: 114
Affordability: 58
Stadium Experience: 70
Bang for the Buck: 70

The Pacers finished at exactly the lottery-bound 36–46 they posted in 2007-08, so how did they jump in our Standings? Well, this year's whole may not have been any better, but fans liked the parts a lot more. Team brass jettisoned dour franchise face Jermaine O'Neal and gave up on Shawne Williams' potential after one too many run-ins with the local law. Larry Legend was even willing to risk the wrath of the Players' Association to keep Jamaal Tinsley indefinitely separated from the squad. (Tinsley didn't even get a page in the team media guide.) None of the subtractions added even one victory, but they squelched the appearance of an inmate-run asylum. The Pacers also get points for $8 parking at Conseco Fieldhouse (second lowest in the league), a sweet deal in harsh times. Overall, attendance jumped from an atrocious 67% of capacity in 2007-08 to 77%, and if the Pacers can get Danny Granger to help down low, that number will surely continue to rise. The Pacers are hoping that the more things stay the same, the more they will change.