The Indiana Pacers are a professional basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team is based in the state's largest city and capital, Indianapolis, Indiana, located in the center of the state. The Fever of the WNBA are the Pacers' sister team also owned by Simon Corp. and play at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Indiana Pacers also have 2 mascots at every home game, Boomer and Bowser, and often appear for NBA .
ABA years: DynastyThe Pacers began play in the inaugural 1967-68 season of the American Basketball Association, which was set up as an alternative league to the National Basketball Association. For their first six years, they played in the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, now called the Pepsi Coliseum. In 1974, they moved to the plush new Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis, where they stayed for 25 years.
Early in the Pacers' second season, former Indiana Hoosiers standout Bob "Slick" Leonard became the team's head coach. Leonard quickly turned the Pacers into a juggernaut. His teams were buoyed by the great play of players such as Mel Daniels, George McGinnis, Rick Mount and Roger Brown. The Pacers were the most successful team in the ABA's history, winning three ABA Championships in four years. In all, they appeared in the ABA Finals five times in the league's eight-year history.
Struggling through the early NBA years
The ABA folded in 1976, and the Pacers were one of four ABA teams invited to join the NBA beginning in the 1976-77 season (the other three were the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs). Financially, the Pacers were by far the weakest of the four ABA refugees. They had already begun selling off some of their star players in the last ABA season. It appeared that they edged out the financially stronger Kentucky Colonels because Indianapolis was a more lucrative television market than Louisville, home of the Colonels.
They finished their inaugural NBA season with a record of 36-46, and Billy Knight and Don Buse were invited to represent Indiana in the NBA All-Star Game. This was one of the few highlights of the Pacers' first 17 years in the league--a time in which they had but two winning seasons and six playoff appearances. After their first season, the Pacers were forced to resort to a city-wide telethon just to stay afloat.
A lack of year-to-year continuity became the norm for most of the next decade, as they traded away Knight and Buse before the 1977-78 season even started. They acquired Adrian Dantley in exchange for Knight, but Dantley (who was averaging nearly 27 points per game at the time) was traded in December, while the Pacers' second-leading scorer, John Williamson, was dealt in January.
As a result of their poor performance, the Pacers needed to resort to publicity stunts to attract fans' attention. Before the 1979 season started, they offered women's basketball star Ann Meyers a tryout contract and invited her to the team's training camp. She became the first and, to this date, only woman to tryout for an NBA team, but did not make the final squad. 
During this time, the Pacers came out on the short end of two of the most one-sided trades in NBA history. In 1980, they traded Alex English to the Nuggets in order to reacquire former ABA star George McGinnis. McGinnis was long past his prime, and contributed very little during his two-year return. English, in contrast, went on to become one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. The next year, they traded a 1984 draft pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for center Tom Owens. Owens only played one year for the Pacers with little impact. This trade looked even more horrendous three years later. In 1983-84, the Pacers finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. As a result of the Owens trade, they were left as bystanders in the midst of one of the deepest drafts in NBA history--including such future stars as Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.
The Pacers made their first appearance in the NBA Playoffs in 1980-81, falling in the opening round to the Philadelphia 76ers in two straight games. It was the team's only playoff appearance from 1977 to 1987.
Clark Kellogg was drafted by the Pacers in 1982 and showed tremendous promise, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting, but the Pacers finished the 1982-83 with their all-time worst record of 20-62, and won only 26 games the following season. After winning 22 games in 1984-85 and 26 games in 1985-86, Jack Ramsay replaced George Irvine as coach and led the Pacers to a 41-41 record in 1986-87, marking their return to the NBA Playoffs after a six-year absence. Chuck Person, nicknamed "The Rifleman" for his renowned long-range shooting, led the team in scoring as a rookie. Their first playoff win in NBA franchise history was earned in Game 3 of their first-round, best-of-five series against the Atlanta Hawks, but it was their only victory in that series, as the Hawks defeated them in four games.
Reggie Miller was drafted by the Pacers in 1987, beginning his career as a backup to John Long. Many fans at the time disagreed with Miller's selection over Indiana Hoosiers' standout Steve Alford. The Pacers missed the playoffs in 1987-88, drafted Rik Smits in the 1988 NBA Draft, and suffered through a disastrous 1988-89 season in which coach Jack Ramsay stepped down and eventually was replaced by Dick Versace on the way to a 28-54 finish. But the team did manage to make a trade that would eventually pay off, as they traded Herb Williams to the Dallas Mavericks for Detlef Schrempf.
In 1989-90 the Pacers parlayed a fast start into the team's third NBA Playoffs appearance, and Reggie Miller was voted to the All-Star team on the strength of his 24.6 points-per-game average. But the Pacers lost all three games in their 1990 NBA Playoffs experience, falling to the Detroit Pistons, who would go on to win their second consecutive NBA Championship.
In 1990-91, the Pacers returned to the playoffs with a 41-41 record, and Schrempf was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. The Pacers had a memorable series against the highly favored Boston Celtics that they managed to extend to five games before losing Game 5, 124-121. The Pacers returned to the playoffs in 1991-92 and met the Celtics again, but this time the Celtics left no doubt who was better as they swept the Pacers in three straight.
Chuck Person and point guard Micheal Williams were traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason, and the Pacers got Pooh Richardson and Sam Mitchell in return. For the 1992-93 season, Detlef Schrempf moved from sixth man to the starter at small forward and was elected to his first All-Star game. Miller, meanwhile, became the Pacers' all-time leading scorer during this season. The Pacers returned to the playoffs with a 41-41 record, but lost to the New York Knicks in the first round, three games to one.
Larry Brown was brought on as Pacers' coach for the 1993-94 season, and Pacers' general manager Donnie Walsh completed a highly-criticized (at the time) trade as he sent Schrempf to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for Derrick McKey. But the Pacers, who began the season in typically average fashion, kicked it up a notch in April, winning their last eight games of the season to finish with a franchise-high 47 wins. They stormed past Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic in a first-round sweep to earn their first NBA playoff series win, and pulled off a tremendous upset by defeating the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the Conference semi-final.
It was during the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals that the Pacers - particularly Reggie Miller - finally became a household name, as Miller's clutch performances helped the Pacers push the Knicks to the brink of elimination before the Knicks won the next two games and the series. Reggie became an NBA superstar overnight, and was even named as a tri-captain of the USA Basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1994 World Championship of Basketball.
Mark Jackson joined the team in an offseason trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, giving the team the steady hand at the point guard position that had been lacking in recent years. The Pacers enjoyed a 52-30 campaign in 1994-95, giving them their first Central Division title. The team swept the Hawks in the first round, finally dispatched the hated Knicks in the semi-finals, and pushed the Magic to seven games before falling in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pacers duplicated their 52-30 record in 1995-96, but were hurt severely by an injury to Reggie Miller's eye socket in April, from which he was not able to return until Game 5 of their first-round series against the Hawks. Reggie scored 29 points in that game, but the Hawks came away with a two-point victory to put an early end to Indiana's season. This 1995-96 team did manage to go down in history as the only team to defeat the Chicago Bulls twice that year, a Bulls team which made history with an all-time best 72-10 record.
The Pacers could not withstand several key injuries in 1996-97, nor could they handle the absence of Mark Jackson, who had been traded to the Denver Nuggets before the season (though they did re-acquire Jackson at the trading deadline). The Pacers finished 39-43 and missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years, after which coach Larry Brown stepped down.
Return to Glory
The Pacers selected Larry Bird to coach the team in 1997-98 and they posted a new franchise record, finishing 58-24. Chris Mullin joined the team in the offseason and immediately became a valuable part of the Pacers lineup-- and their starting small forward. Assistant coaches Rick Carlisle, in charge of the offense, and Dick Harter, who coached the defense, were key in getting the most out of the Pacers' role players such as Dale Davis, Antonio Davis and Derrick McKey. Reggie Miller and Rik Smits both made the All-Star team that year, and in the playoffs, the Pacers breezed past the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks before falling to the Chicago Bulls in an epic seven-game Eastern Conference Final.
In the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, the Pacers won the Central Division with a 33-17 record and swept the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers before falling to the New York Knicks in a six-game Eastern Conference Finals series. The Pacers traded popular forward Antonio Davis to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for first-round draft choice Jonathan Bender, which remains to this day a subject of controversy among Pacers fans. But in the Playoffs, after a 56-26 regular season, the Pacers survived the upset-minded Bucks in round one, handled the 76ers in the second round and finally broke through to the NBA Finals by virtue of a six-game East Finals victory over the New York Knicks.
Their first NBA Finals appearance was against the Los Angeles Lakers, who proved too much for them to handle as they ended Indiana's championship hopes in six games. However, the Pacers dealt Los Angeles their worst playoff defeat up to that time by a margin of 33 points in Game Five.
The offseason brought sweeping changes to the Pacers' lineup, as Rik Smits and coach Larry Bird retired, Chris Mullin returned to his old Golden State Warriors team, Mark Jackson signed a long-term contract with Toronto, and Dale Davis was traded to Portland for Jermaine O'Neal, who went on to average 12.9 points per game in his first year as a starter. It was a rebuilding year for the Pacers under new head coach Isiah Thomas, but the team still managed to return to the playoffs, where they lost to the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in four games.
In the midseason of 2001-02, the Pacers made a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bulls that sent Jalen Rose and Travis Best to Chicago in exchange for Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Kevin Ollie and Ron Mercer. Brad Miller and Ron Artest would, in the next few years, go on to be All-Stars for the Pacers. The trade bolstered a team that had been floundering, and the Pacers managed to return to the playoffs, where they pushed the top-seeded New Jersey Nets to five games before losing Game 5 in double overtime. Jermaine O'Neal made his first of what would be several All-Star appearances this year, erasing any doubt that trading the veteran workhorse, Dale Davis, to Portland for him was a good idea.
The Pacers got off to a 13-2 start in 2002-03, but hit the wall after the All-Star break thanks in no small part to Ron Artest's multiple suspensions and family tragedies befalling Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and Austin Croshere. O'Neal and Brad Miller both made the All-Star team and the Pacers made a substantial improvement as they finished 48-34, but they suffered a loss to the underdog Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Pacers' New Era
In the 2003 offseason, the Pacers managed to re-sign O'Neal for the NBA maximum and inked Reggie Miller to a modest two-year deal, but they could not afford to keep their talented center, Brad Miller. He was dealt to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Scot Pollard, who spent much of the following year watching from the bench and backing up Jeff Foster. But the Pacers signed Larry Bird as team president, and Bird wasted little time in dismissing coach Isiah Thomas and replacing him with Rick Carlisle.
The Pacers responded to Carlisle extremely well, and had a breakthrough 2003-04 season in which they finished 61-21, earning the best record in the NBA as well as a franchise record. O'Neal and Artest made the All-Star team, and Artest was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.
The Pacers swept the Boston Celtics easily in the first round, and squeezed by a scrappy Miami Heat team in the conference semi-finals. But the Detroit Pistons proved an impediment to Indiana's championship aspirations, as they defeated the Pacers in six games on their way to the NBA Championship.
Al Harrington, a small forward who had established himself as one of the best sixth-men in the NBA, was dealt in the offseason to the Atlanta Hawks in return for Stephen Jackson after Harrington allegedly demanded that the Pacers start him or trade him. Nevertheless, the Pacers started off the 2004-05 season in extremely strong fashion–until the infamous events of November 19, 2004.
Towards the end of a Pacers victory over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Ron Artest committed a hard foul against the Pistons' Ben Wallace, which Wallace took exception to. It escalated to a full-scale brawl, with fans and several Pacers taking part. Pistons fan John Green threw a cup of beer at Artest, causing him to charge into the stands. Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal both got into fights with fans before the Pacers left the floor, and the game was called with 46 seconds left on the clock . Artest was suspended for the rest of the season without pay for his role in the 'basketbrawl.'
Several of the involved players were suspended by NBA Commissioner David Stern, but the hardest hit were Artest (suspended for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs), Jackson (suspended for 30 games), O'Neal (25 games), Wallace (6 games) and the Pacers' Anthony Johnson (5 games). (O'Neal's suspension was later reduced to 15 games by arbitrator Roger Kaplan, a decision that was upheld by U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels.) O'Neal was charged with two counts of assault and battery, while Artest, Jackson, Johnson and David Harrison were charged with one count each.
After the brawl and riot that followed, the Pacers fell downward into the Central Division. They went from a legitimate title contender to a team that hovered around .500 in winning percentage. The Pistons eventually became the Central Division champions. Despite the difficulties with the suspensions and injuries, the Pacers earned a sixth seed in the playoffs with a record of 44-38. An important reason for their strong finish was the re-acquisition of Dale Davis, who had been released by New Orleans after being traded there by Golden State. He played the final 25 games of the regular season and every playoff game, contributing a strong presence at center. And Davis' signing coincided with an injury to Jermaine O'Neal that would knock him out for virtually the remainder of the regular season—indeed, O'Neal's first missed game due to his injury was Davis' first game back with the Pacers.
So despite the adversity they had gone through, the Pacers made the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years. In the first round, Indiana defeated the Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics in seven games, winning Game 7 in Boston by the decisive margin of 97-70.
The Pacers then advanced to the second-round against the Detroit Pistons, in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals. The series featured games back at The Palace of Auburn Hills, the scene of the brawl that many assumed at the time had effectively ended the Pacers' season. After losing game 1, the Pacers won the next two games to take a 2-1 lead. However, the Pacers could not repeat their victories against the Pistons and lost the next 3 games, losing the series 4-2.
The final game (game 6) was on May 19 2005; Reggie Miller, in his final NBA game, scored 27 points and received a huge standing ovation from the crowd. Despite Miller's effort, the Pacers lost, sending Miller into retirement without an NBA Championship in his 18-year career, all with the Pacers. Miller had his #31 jersey retired by the Pacers on March 30, 2006.
In 2005, the Pacers got off to an average start. On December 10 2005, Ron Artest told a reporter for the Indianapolis Star that he wants to be traded, saying "the team would be better off without me". Various Pacers, including Jermaine O'Neal, soon denounced him, as O'Neal did not want to talk about it. On December 12, the Pacers placed Artest on their inactive list and began seeking a trade for the troubled star. On December 16, the NBA fined Ron Artest $10,000 for publicly demanding a trade, which is similar to "degrading the league".
After that, the team had gone on a 9-12 tailspin and was 22-22, a far cry from the beginning where people mentioned that the Pacers would be one of the NBA's elite. On January 24 2006, it was said that Artest would be traded to the Sacramento Kings for Peja Stojakovic, when the trade was declined suddenly. The following day, however, the trade was accepted, and Indiana finally cut ties with the troubled All-Star. On February 1 2006, they managed to beat the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, keeping the high-scorer below his average. Jermaine O'Neal was also sidelined with a torn left groin and missed two months. The Pacers finished the season 41-41.
Despite the Artest saga and many key injuries the Pacers made the playoffs for the 14th time in 15 years. They also were the only road team to win Game 1 of a first-round playof series.. However New Jersey won game 2 to tie the series at 1-1 heading back to Indiana. In game 3 Jermaine O'Neal scored 37 points as the Pacers regained a 2-1 series lead. The Nets, however, won games four and five to take a 3-2 series lead. In Game 6 Anthony Johnson scored 40 points but the Pacers' season came to an end as the Nets won 96-90.
2006 Offseason--"Restoration" Project
The 2006 offseason saw big changes to the Pacers roster. They drafted Shawne Williams and James White . Additionally on July 1 2006 they completed a sign-and-trade with starting small forward Peja Stojakovic to the New Orleans Hornets for a $100 million (sic) trade exception. . The trade raised questions around the league, as Stojakovic was a free agent and did not need to be traded for. Some believe the Hornets made the trade so the Pacers could use the exception to re-acquire Al Harrington in a sign-and-trade, keeping the top free agent away from the Western Conference. On August 22 the Pacers completed the trade for Harrington and John Edwards in exchange for a future first round pick. 
In July, forward Austin Croshere was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for guard/forward Marquis Daniels . The Pacers also made another trade with the Mavericks acquiring Darrell Armstrong, Rawle Marshall, and Josh Powell in exchange for Anthony Johnson .
However, the "restoration project" took a major image hit when player Stephen Jackson and some teammates decided to visit a strip club on October 6, 2006. Upon leaving the club, Jackson was involved in an argument during which he was hit by a car. In response, Stephen pulled a gun out and began shooting.
The Pacers finished the 2006-2007 season on an up and down note at 35-47 and had an 11 game losing streak in the process. Injuries to star player Jermaine O'Neal and poor defensive efforts have led to the team's struggles. The April 15 loss to New Jersey Nets knocked the Pacers out of the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-1997 season.
On January 17, 2007, the Indiana Pacers traded Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius, and Josh Powell to the Golden State Warriors for forward Troy Murphy, forward/guard Mike Dunleavy, Jr., forward Ike Diogu, and guard Keith McLeod.
On April 25, 2007, the Indiana Pacers announced the firing of coach Rick Carlisle, with the Pacers' first losing record in ten seasons being the main reason for the coach's dismissal. Pacers' president Larry Bird noted that Carlisle has the opportunity to return to the Pacers franchise in another role.
Per 48 Minutes
Notable Former Players
Recent Draft History
Coaches and Others
Previous Indianapolis NBA teams
Record Per Season