INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Pacers aren’t banking on all-stars this postseason. They are banking on one hot hand who also owns an ice cold stare.
The same player who was introduced last season to reporters in the bowels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, just a hallway to meet a little-known small forward who might be a starter. Might be.
Fast forward to the 2019 postseason and Bojan Bogdanovic is the Pacers’ only hope of giving Boston a run for its superstar East Coast money.
“I thought ‘Bogey’ was mean as hell when I first met him,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said. “He looked mean and acted like he didn’t want to speak to me. We ended up becoming really good friends and great teammates. He always cracks jokes. He is just awesome.”
Bogdanovic is the type to draw a good laugh whenever he chimes in. He picks his spots, like the time earlier this season when the rest of the locker room was riding him for wearing a spiffy red sportcoat. A witty response about the Pacers being dropped by national television in favor of another game drew a roar.
“I have always had that in me, but I didn’t show it until this season,” Bogdanovic said.
You don’t remember when Bogdanovic signed because it was the same day Paul George showed up to a reception in Oklahoma City like he was George Harrison: Screaming fans everywhere.
Pacers fans, let it be.
But fans will remember Bogdanovic’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse playoff debut: 30 points, including a flurry of key 3-pointers in what became this Croatian’s “Hoosier Coronation.”
“It is a basketball city, basketball country and we have great fans,” Bogdanovic said. “It is kind of quiet. It is a perfect situation to play your best basketball.”
Bogdanovic speaks four languages thanks to his previous professional stops overseas. He claims to adapt to any environment and this starting role in Indiana, his first in the NBA, is working beautifully.
The 29-year-old will finish the regular season with career-highs in points per game (18.0), rebounds (4.1) and assists (2.0) along with field goal percentage (.497).
“It is every day — not every other day — every day he comes to work,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. “He gives you everything. I don’t have to worry about him.”
“I love him to death, like a brother,” Young said. “Any team I am on, I would love to have ‘Bogey’ with me.”
A unique opportunity awaits: a chance to slay the Celtics star power in round 1.
For the Pacers, it is ‘Bogey or Bust.’