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The Pacers 2021 – 2022 City Edition Uniforms are here, and the team says they are the most exciting ones yet!

Danny Lopez, Pacers VP, joined us today to tell us all about them, how they came up with the design and more.

Watch the video above for all the details.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Pacers fans on Thursday got a look online at new security scanners coming to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

A limited number of tickets will be available for fans at Pacers home games starting with the game against the Raptors on Jan. 24.

Team mascots Boomer and Freddy Fever shared a video Thursday to demonstrate 15 new scanners installed at the Fieldhouse. They will scan guests and their bags while reducing direct contact between fans and staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

The games will also have other COVID-19 requirements for fans that include masks, physically distanced seating, and digital tickets.

For more on getting tickets and what protocols to expect at the games, visit the team’s website.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Donnie Walsh, the Indiana Pacers team architect who originally took over personnel decisions in 1986, has retired.

Walsh, who will turn 80 next March, served as a consultant to the team for the better part of the last decade.

Walsh’s legacy began with the decision to draft Reggie Miller, a string-bean sharpshooter from UCLA, with the 11th overall pick in 1987.

Together, Walsh, Miller and the Pacers built the best clubs in franchise, halted only by two of the greatest dynasties in NBA history: Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers.

On the news Wednesday, Pacers Owner Herb Simon wrote, “Over my thirty-year relationship with Donnie, I have been amazed to watch him help lead this organization to what it has become. He was certainly the right leader at the right time, and the invaluable wisdom and counsel he has provided over the decades extend well beyond the lines of the basketball court. For that, I owe him an incredible debt of gratitude. While he may be stepping away, Donnie will always be part of the Pacers family and I am personally excited for him as he transitions to his next chapter.”

Pacers fifth-year center Myles Turner shared these words: “The success (Donnie Walsh has) had over the past several years here has been incredible. He’s been able to bring a small market team into contention every year, and a lot of regular season success, and that’s something that just doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger.”

Donnie Walsh, a true Indiana Pacers legend. 

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indiana Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren went right to work Wednesday.

Less than 24 hours after accepting the job, the 45-year-old former Toronto Raptors assistant started explaining his plan.

He expects the Pacers to move the ball and take more 3-pointers. He wants the defense to be more disruptive. He promises not to get locked into rotations and will be willing to take risks. Perhaps most important, he believes there needs to be more communication between coaches and players.

Those are exactly the traits president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard hoped to find when he embarked on a coaching search two months ago and Bjorkgren became the perfect fit.

“There are people in this world who bring energy and you like being around them,” Pritchard said after introducing Bjorkgren on a Zoom call. “I think the litmus test is when those guys call you, you can’t wait to pick up the phone. Nate has those characteristics, and when he went through his presentation he created a vision that I could physically see in my mind how he was going to coach. We knew he was the right guy.”

The proof will come in time.

But the first-time NBA head coach certainly presented a different kind of vision, one Pacers fans may embrace after watching years of stodgy, half-court basketball.

Bjorkgren wants to shatter those norms. He prefers an evolving style that conforms only to circumstances.

“We’ll be a fun team to watch,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of movement on both sides of the ball, different guys handling the ball, pushing it up the floor. We want to utilize the 3-point line. My approach to defense is you change and change quite frequently, between quarters, after timeouts, during an 8-0 run, I think that’s the disruptive part.”

Bjorkgren developed his coaching style working largely with Raptors coach Nick Nurse.

Nurse first hired Bjorkgren as an assistant in 2007 with the Iowa Energy. Following their first season together, Bjorkgren described how he and Nurse held daily whiteboard sessions to discuss strategy.

It was there, in the G-League over the next seven seasons — three as Nurse’s assistant, four as a head coach — where Bjorkgren learned the value of flexibility. With small coaching staffs and ever-changing rosters, Bjorkgren managed to go 126-74 with the Dakota Wizards, Santa Cruz Warriors, Energy and Bakersfield Jam before joining the Phoenix Suns in 2015.

“You have to adapt very early and quite often,” Bjorkgren said. “You could be at a shootaround and two guys get called up and another is going overseas so you have to coach on the fly. You have to know the next guy will be there and that’s the part of the coaching, keeping everybody ready at all times.”

He put those lessons to work when he was reunited with Nurse in Toronto two years ago.

In Bjorkgren’s first season with the Raptors, Kawhi Leonard led the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed to its first NBA championship. Leonard’s departure in free agency last summer didn’t change much in terms of philosophy or success.

The Raptors still went 53-19, still earned the second seed in the East and still reached the conference semifinals before losing to Boston in seven games.

So when Pritchard saw Toronto’s 23-12 postseason record over the past two seasons and compared it to the Pacers playoff mark of 3-16 over the last four seasons, he was sold.

“I think it’s important to take risks in the NBA today,” Pritchard said. “We think that helps you down the line. Maybe not early, but down the line in the playoffs and that’s where we want to get better.”

The biggest offseason question for Pritchard is the future of two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo, who has been cleared to do his full complement of workouts. Oladipo can become a free agent after next season.

“He feels good about the team. He’s talked to me about how he thinks this tam can be very good,” Pritchard said. “We hear a lot of things, but until it comes to me, I don’t really worry about that.”

And perhaps Bjorkgren can help help convince Oladipo to stay with his new approach, too.

“I wanted this job so bad because of the talent on this team,” Bjorkgren said. “As you know they’re great basketball players, and they’re even better people. Just getting to know them more in the last 24 hours is really special to me, and I look forward to getting to know them more as we move forward.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — We Stand Together has been a series of stories giving leaders and the community an opportunity to share their voices.

Some say we could learn a lot from the sports community.

On Thursday night’s News 8 at 10, a special edition, as Our Community Link host talks with Rick Fuson, president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment.

Watch the video to see the interview.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Nate McMillan.

McMillan was 183-136 in four seasons. He was 3-16 in the playoffs.

“On behalf of the Simon family and the Pacers organization, I’d like to thank Nate for his years with the team,” Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement. “This was a very hard decision for us to make; but we feel it’s in the best interest of the organization to move in a different direction. Nate and I have been through the good times and the bad times; and it was an honor to work with him for those 11 years (in Indiana and Portland).”

The team had signed McMillan to a contract extension earlier this month.

Since then, the team was swept in the first round of NBA Playoffs by the Miami Heat.

The Pacers made the playoffs in all four seasons under McMillan, but never made it out of the first round. The team was swept three times.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that current Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni “will be an Indiana target should be become available.”

McMillan was associate head coach for the Pacers for three seasons before becoming head coach.

He had previous coaching stints with Seattle and Portland.

His overall coaching record is 661-558, with a playoff record of 17-36.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sports fans were forced to get creative during the coronavirus pandemic.

Basketball fans gathered Monday night at a baseball diamond to cheer on Pacers, all for a good cause. The Indianapolis Indians opened up Victory Field and turned on the scoreboard screen for a Pacers watch party for Game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs.

It was all done in a socially responsible way with the pandemic.

It’s probably the first time everyone at Victory Field had watched a basketball game from a baseball field, but for Lisa Eckleman and other Pacers fans, the effort was certainly worth it.

“I miss not being in the stands,” she said.

Eckleman was a few blocks away from her usual Pacers home game location at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but she didn’t want to miss it so she came alone with her young grandkids, who might distract her.

“It is so I can really focus on the game,” she said and laughed. “When I have to go by myself, I feel like I’m with my friends because we all have the Pacers in common.”

More than 400 people came for the sights and the sounds of the game. One day after an Indianapolis 500 without fans, it seems like this city has now seen everything.

“First-time ever,” fan Barb Weimer said. “This is a great way to come, get out and see some sports.”

Weimer came with her daughter and her sister, the one who convinced her to become an usher at Pacer games this year before they were both laid off this spring.

“We did it because we just love watching the games and thought that would be a great thing and it ended up great,” Weimer said.

The watch party came together in just days, a partnership between the Indians who take home the money from the concessions and the Indiana Sports Corp that is putting all proceeds from ticket sales toward its youth programs, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Temperatures were taken at the entrance. Masks were required when roaming around. No cash transactions were allowed. Families were placed in seats with plenty of distance between each other.

The Marion County Department of Public Health approved all plans.

“At the end of the day, Pacers fans are sports fans,” said Brett Kramer, director of public relations for Indiana Sports Corp. “If you’re a sports fan, you love baseball, you love the ballpark. Getting to watch it outside, that’s unique and that’s fun especially since it’s the playoffs. That can make the experience even better for them.”

With Pacemates, the Pacers High Octane Drumline and Pacers mascot Boomer, the in-game experience seemed familiar to Pacers fans. But Monday night, they were 400 feet and an outfield fence away from the action on the big screen.

“It’s fun,” Eckleman said. “It’s close enough, especially with all the other fans around.”

The fan total was 426, with tickets sold out in the upper-deck Club Level seats.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — T.J. Warren kept up his red-hot restart with 34 more points, helping the Indiana Pacers pull away from the Washington Wizards for a 111-100 victory.

Two nights after scoring a career-best 53 points in the Pacers’ first game at Disney, Warren had 16 points in the third quarter to spark a 22-2 run after Washington had fought back into the game.

Warren shot 14 for 26 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who improved to 2-0 since resuming the season.

They played without star guard Victor Oladipo, who rested on the first night of back-to-back games.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — You may remember News 8’s first visit two years ago with the NBA’s brand new professional videogame league.

A collection of the top six video game players in the country, masters at NBA 2K 2020, represents us here in Indianapolis.

The team, Pacers Gaming, is in its third season of national completion and recently — they hit it big.

“I can’t believe I was playing on ESPN2 last night,” said former Pacers Gaming No. 1 overall pick Bryant Colon. “It definitely hasn’t hit me, but it is a dream come true.”

Colon, known inside the NBA 2K 2020 world as Wolf, carries quite the following online. 

“I am hovering around 10,000 (followers) on Twitter, and on Twitch I am close to 10,000 as well,” Colon said. “A lot of people stream. A lot of people watch me play.”
“I have blown out of the water since I joined the (NBA 2K 2020) league.”

The leader of this crew is Cody Parrent, head coach of Pacers Gaming, and his following on Twitter is just shy of 30,000.

As you can tell by these numbers, the gaming world is no long shot in terms of long-term viability. 

Given the lack of professional sports on television due to the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN2 recently picked up weekly broadcasts of NBA 2K contests.

“A lot of eyeballs on us right now because there are no traditional sports out there,” Parrent said. “So, I think it is just a great way to show what we have.”

Pacers Gaming is grabbing a sliver of the spotlight and working to make it count. 

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Excitement is great. Positivity is necessary. And hope, in April, is a foregone conclusion for the 24 NBA teams stuck watching the conference semifinals on the couch. 

Indiana Pacers President Kevin Pritchard and Head Coach Nate McMillan delivered all of it Wednesday after a week-plus of silence following a “sour” sweep at the hands of Boston. 

“I am more excited about the draft and free agency than I have ever been,” Pritchard said. 

Seven members of last year’s Pacers team will be free agents. Pritchard will have $43 to $45 million in salary cap space at his disposal this offseason.

Let’s be clear. There was really no reason for real excitement Wednesday. Yes, pricey free agents will triple their bank accounts over the summer, maybe one here in Indianapolis, but the big announcement didn’t come down. 

Victor Oladipo’s season-ending quad injury still doesn’t have a return date, and don’t expect that to change this summer. 

“In Victor’s style he has promised to come back 200 to 300 percent of what he was,” Pritchard said.  “I remember leaving that dinner on Sunday saying, ‘We are going to be really good next year.'”

But, for the meat of the meeting: “When he is back next year? I am not sure yet,” Pritchard noted.

McMillan reiterated how proud he was of this year’s team. Left without their lone all-star, the team told him they wanted to chase down the No. 3 seed. A valiant run hit a miserable March schedule and the Pacers finished fifth, a solid achievement sans Oladipo.

Going forward, there is no use in getting tied up on which of the seven free agents may return to McMillan’s arsenal next season. The results next season ultimately hinge on one player.

“I kind of look at Victor being out. He is really the engine. He is the engine that helped us go,” McMillan said. “He is a very big part of this team and the things that we try to do out on the floor.”

Chemistry carried the Pacers the last two seasons, but that Celtics playoff series was a reminder to Pritchard that talent wins in the playoffs. Playing at a faster tempo and shooting more 3-pointers are two points of emphasis from McMillan. 

The recruiting will fall on Pritchard, General Manager Chad Buchanan and their staff.

The top names are sexy and presumably unlurable: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard. 

But, a tier of all-star caliber players will be worth serious consideration.

“We will go after them. We aren’t afraid and we are willing to think big,” Pritchard said. “It may happen, it may not happen.”

Domantas Sabonis starting alongside Myles Turner? That’s looks like it might be a good bet. As for the rest of the hoopla, “We are going to have to call audibles. This is the audible summer,” Pritchard said.

Don’t go snoozing this summer. It is time to roll the dice and see what happens.