As I've noted in a previous post, the Indiana Pacers are endeavoring to put a new profile on a team that limped lethargically to a 41 - 41 record last season, bowed out of the playoffs and left their collective fanbase clammoring for the likes of Rik Smits.
As of 3:00am this morning though, Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh now have to figure out how to spin a strip-clup shooting and yet another physical altercation involving the supposedly reborn Stephen Jackson. Looks like the front office is going to have to do more than cut J.O.'s hair.
This is going to be a tough one though.
You see, it seems from most media reports that the Pacers involved in the incident - Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels, Jimmie Hunter, and even Stephen Jackson - were for all intents and purposes working to get out of a bad situation. The altercation opened up inside Club Rio (not the classiest joints, and definitely not in the classiest neighborhood) and the Pacers did what all crisis interverntionist would initially suggest; remove yourself from the scene.
Whatever thuggish-ruggish folks were on the opposing side of the argument (initial reports say that Marquis Daniels insisted The Graduate was the best coming of age movie, only to be rebuffed by a yokel demanding he acknowledge the merits of Stand By Me) pursued the Pacers into the parking lot, hit Jackson upside his grill and knocked him onto the hood of his Bentley with one of their cars. As a matter of self-defense, who wouldn't fire five shots from a licensed 9mm in the air at that point?
Reggie Miller wouldn't.
Therein lies the rub. These are our Indiana Pacers. They're in strip clubs at 3:00am on a Thursday, armed with handguns (legally), and carrying the residue of a dime bag (but nothing of a criminal measure) in their Bentleys. As holy as Reggie was, he was still a party animal (the guy loves John Mellencamp for God's sake) and the Simons gave him a Bentley of his own upon his retirement. Reggie never drug himself into a hip-hop malaise though, and these four could be vilified for just being near this incident, let alone playing the part of some pissed-off middle eastern kid shooting into the air.
Pacers fans are not yet ready to wrap their arms around this team, and no matter how many criminal charges get lopped onto the jerks that perpetuated this incident and how many times we hear that Jackson was acting in self-defense (which seems to be 100% true at this point, although the Pacers' website is quite mum), Indianapolis is going to have a tough time forgiving Stephen Jackson...again.
Maybe if they all wore 31...