In an earlier column I outlined a few of the reasons why the Pacers might not be able to financially afford resigning their superstar forward Paul George to a new contract. There was also speculation that his hometown team, the Los Angeles Clippers, the team he rooted for as a kid would make every effort to bring George back home to play for them. This last Sunday, George’s agent Aaron Mintz dropped the bomb that Paul George would depart from Indianapolis after the 2017-18 season but it will be to join the Los Angeles Lakers! The timing of the announcement is devastating coming just before the NBA draft and free agent signing seasons.
The news blindsided the Pacer front office which is still reeling from Larry Bird’s departure. They had revealed a plan to build a team around George that would hopefully be a challenger for the NBA championship. Well, that plan is now down the tubes. George has developed into a top notch offensive player but it’s his ferocious defensive play that opponents fear. He has been called the best two way player in the game and this has come very quickly. At 6’ 9” and 220 pounds he is certainly an imposing physical specimen. He is without a doubt the Pacers’ most talented player since Reggie Miller.
Some local sports journalists have denounced George for the timing of his declaration, noting it’s devastating effect on the team. Others claim that George owes the Pacers nothing but his best performance on the court in the upcoming season. It’s certainly in his best interest to play the best that he can in the 2017-18 season and he says that is exactly what he will do.
For the Pacers, the departure of Paul George will put them back to square one, a total and complete rebuild. Pacers fans will more than likely go through some serious pain and suffering before their team will be able to operate as contenders again. They have been there before. Someday a NBA Championship banner will hang from the rafters of Bankers Life. I just may not live to see it.
The Supreme Court has awarded the Washington Redskins the right to trademark their name and logo. In 2014 the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office removed the Redskins trademarking rights “because they despaired persons or brought them into shame or disrepute.” The name “Redskins” has been at the center of controversy for the last 20 years. The SCOTUS ruled this a violation of the Redskins’ free speech and they must be allowed full trademark rights to their name. This is a big win for the team and for other entities with controversial nicknames. In 2014 the Redskins were a bad and losing team and the controversy about the Redskins name being racist and derogatory was going full tilt. In 2017 the Redskins are a winning team and appealed to fans and the controversy has died. Nothing succeeds like success.
A Chicago Bear season ticket holder is suing the Chicago Bears over his right to wear Green Bay Packers paraphernalia at Soldier Field during fan participation events. Russell Beckman is a Chicago small business owner and has held season tickets to Bears games since 2003. He grew up in a Milwaukee suburb, however, and is a lifelong Packers fan. When the Packers came to play in Chicago last season, Beckman was refused access to the field for a pregame fan event because he was wearing his Packers gear. Beckman claims the Bears violated his right to free speech. He wants damages and the guaranteed right to wear his Packers stuff anytime and anywhere on Solider Field, no matter what the circumstances. I hope this very important issue is quickly settled so that we can move on to the less important and mundane issues such as player and fan safety and canceling sports team’s tax free status.