| INDIANA PACERS HISTORY
Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Owner: Herbert Simon
Division Championships: 6(1995,1999,2000,2004,2013,2014)
Conference Titles: 1(2000)
NBA Titles: None
ABA Titles 3(1970,1971,1974)
Best Season: 2003-04 61-21 (.744)
Worst Season: 1982-83 20-52 (.244)
When professional basketball came to Indianapolis in 1967, one of the key decisions would be what to call the new American Basketball Association franchise.
According to Indianapolis attorney, Richard D. Tinkham, the nickname “Pacers” was decided on through a collective decision of the original investors. Tinkham, one of those investors, recalled that the nickname was a combination of the state’s rich history with the harness racing pacers (investor Chuck Barnes was a horse racing enthusiast) and the pace car used for the running of the Indianapolis 500.
Tinkham said the “Pacers” decision was an easy one, but the real debate was whether the team should be called the Indiana Pacers or the Indianapolis Pacers. Since one of the original ideas for the team was to have it playing throughout the state with its base in Indianapolis, the official team name became the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers are the only former ABA team that has not relocated or changed their names. The Nets began as the New Jersey Americans, moved to New York and became the Nets, moved again to New Jersey, and finally back to the state of New York to become the Brooklyn Nets. The Spurs began in Dallas as the Chaparrals before moving to San Antonio. The Nuggets began in Kansas City as the Larks, but were relocated before the start of their first season and became the Denver Rockets. When the merger with the NBA was imminent they changed their name to the Nuggets. The Pacers have always been the Pacers and been located in Indianapolis.
Before the ABA started the Pacers Indiana and Indianapolis had a history of high level professional basketball. The NBL had several teams in Indiana that included the Anderson Packers in Anderson; the Fort Wayne General Electrics and Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons in Fort Wayne; The Hammond/Whiting All Americans in Hammond; The Hammond Buccaneers also in Hammond; the Richmond King Clothiers in Richmond and the Indianapolis Kautskies
Of the early NBL teams only the Packers, Pistons and Kautskies seen any success. All three teams joined the NBA when it formed. The Packers lasted a couple of seasons before switching leagues and disbanding The Pistons joined the NBA and eventually moved to Detroit. The Kautskies too made the move to the NBA but folded after just one season playing as the Indianapolis Jets.
The NBA tried again in Indianapolis in 1949 when they created the Indianapolis Olympians but that team folded after just a few seasons.
In 1967 the Pacers founded one of the first dance squads in professional sports. Most college and high school athletics had cheerleaders, but very few had active dance squads. Now common place through out sports, the Pacers were the first professional basketball team to use a dance squad and became the first NBA team to use one when they joined the NBA in 1976.
History of early professional basketball in Indiana |
Before the Indiana Pacers joined the ABA and eventually the NBA, the state of Indiana was the hot bed of professional basketball. From 1935 until 1953 the state hosted no less than 11 different teams in the major professional basketball leagues. Unfortunately, almost all of them would end and leave the state with no professional basketball teams for nearly two decades.
Indiana is synonymy with the game of basketball. The University of Indiana is one of the most storied programs in all of college basketball winning 5 NCAA titles, but it was Purdue who would bring the state its first NCAA basketball title in 1932.
Through out the early years of basketball a lot of fly by night leagues and teams called Indiana home, in fact Indiana even had its own semi-pro league of teams completely made up of teams in the Indianapolis region. It was not until 1935 when the Midwest Basketball Conference formed did the state of Indiana start seeing regular professional basketball at the highest levels and quality
Indiana Hoops HOF