INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Fans are excited and the nation will be watching. The Indiana Pacers are just one win away from the NBA Championship series.
Win or lose on the court, the team has already won the hearts of Hoosiers and others who had all but given up on the blue and gold.
This season has been a comeback for a team that has been trying to recapture Pacer pride since the brawl in Detroit back in November of 2004.
At noon Monday, the line outside Banker's Life Fieldhouse was long, and game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals is being played all the way in Miami.
"We're here for the Pacers party and all of the kids wanted to come down and see what's going on," said one Pacers fan.
It is an optimistic sign for a team that has been trying to win fans back for nearly a decade.
"We've come a long way since Reggie Miller days and it took us awhile to get a good team together, finally a good young team," another fan told 24-Hour News 8.
That good young team is suddenly in the national spotlight.
Dan Dakich, former college basketball player and coach, and now host of the Dan Dakich Show on 1070 the fan, says he thinks this Pacers team will hold on to the fans it's won on this playoff run.
"In Indiana, which is why I love Indiana, you know we understand about winning the right way. We understand about winning with good guys. That's important as well," says Dakich.
But Roy Hibbert's foul language and gay slur after the win at home Saturday, threaten the good guy image of the team. Dakich says that hurts the teams efforts to keep fans on board.
"Think anytime you have a group of people that have potentially been splintered from your fan base, you have to make sure you reach out to them and make them understand what you're really about," says Dakich.
Loyal fans are the ones most likely to forgive and forget. But the Pacers, so close to putting a bad decade behind them, want fans to talk about winning, not words.
The Pacers play Miami Heat at 8:30 p.m. Monday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
A winter storm warning is in effect for most of Central Indiana.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
The Indiana Department of Transportation and Indiana State Police say they're ready for the wintry weather conditions. Thursday's transition from mild temperatures and rain to freezing temperatures and snow made efforts more difficult.