The Sports Guy is in town for the Super Bowl and stopped by what he still calls Conseco Fieldhouse to talk hoops with Pacers media director David Benner
Conrad Brunner of Pacers.com. During the chat, Bill Simmons confirms something all Indiana fans should know: the 1998 Pacers were better than the 1998 Bulls.
Here are some of Bill’s quotes from their video conversation.
- Simmons on his belief that Larry Bird should make a trade this year: “I still think they need to make a trade. I know everybody likes the team and likes the nucleus, but they have the cap space and they actually have a chance to make the Finals. I think the East is wide open … So I would like to see them do something to add one big contract or one big piece. I’m not sure what that piece is — it kinda depends on how it shakes out — but I would love to see them go after Steve Nash. I just think he would be a great fit in so many different ways here.”
- Simmons on whether Bird actually will shake up the roster: “For Indiana, it’s like they don’t need to do anything this year. I think it would be good if they got in the playoffs, got tested, got the experience. They have the cap space. I don’t think there’s the urgency [that] it’s a make-or-break season or anything like that. But I think [Bird will] smell it if he feels like they can actually win the East, he’ll make a move. But I don’t think we know that yet because we don’t know what’s going on with Miami. It kind of looks like they’re teetering. It just looks like it’s not a great situation there. Those guys have now played together 120 games or something, and it just doesn’t look like they’ve figured it out.”
- Simmons on Bankers Life Fieldhouse: “I loved it. I love the practice court. I’m actually gonna sneak on there after we do this interview and maybe take some jump shots.”
- Simmons on his affinity for the Pacers dating back to when Bird joined the franchise as a coach: “I’m always rooting for the Pacers. I’m always rooting for The Legend. I was full-in in ’98 and 2000. And I still think that 2000 Finals was closer than people remember. People seem to think that those Lakers teams just walked through that era and it just wasn’t true. You watch those games on ESPN Classic — especially game four — Kobe played just out of his mind in the overtime. It was probably his single greatest moment as a player, I think. And that was it. I think if the Pacers had won that game, I think they would have won the series. They really matched up well with that Laker team, I felt like. And the other thing with them is, the ’98 team, they were better than the Bulls. And Jordan and Pippen just wouldn’t let them lose. But they had a better team that year. It just came down to the fact that they were going against the greatest player ever and he wasn’t ready to lose his stance yet. But I don’t think you can come closer to winning the title and not win than that team did that series.”
When it came down to game seven in 1998, more so than Jordan and Pippen — who shot a combined 15-of-48 (31.3%) in the deciding contest — “not letting” Chicago lose, it was actually the Pacers inability to get a goddamn rebound (they gave up 22 offensive rebounds).
But who really remembers?
(Me. I remember. That’s who. BOX OUT FOR CHRISTSAKE.)