In the midst of a four-game home stand, which the Indiana Pacers are relishing, the team received better news on top of their blowout victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Head coach Frank Vogel, in his third full season at the helm, has been chosen to lead the Eastern Conference All-Star team in New Orleans next month.
The reward comes as the successes line up in a domino effect. First was a chance to be a head coach for Vogel. Mission accomplished in 2011: he led the Pacers to the playoffs as interim coach. Next came a new contract, followed by two consecutive playoff appearances including the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago (Indiana has made the playoffs every season since Vogel was named interim head coach in January 2011).
Finally, as the Indiana Pacers hold the best record in the NBA, Vogel is named the head coach of the East. With him on the trip could be some of his own players such as Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson.
Vogel credited Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird, along with Kevin Pritchard, for the job they’ve done of bringing in “high character guys.
“Not just staying out of trouble, but guys that bring it every night,” Vogel said. “It’s a team honor, and I’m really excited about it.”
Miami’s Erik Spoelstra is ineligible for the position because he coached last year’s team. No other club in the Eastern Conference is anywhere close to Miami and Indiana in the win-loss column, which determines who the coach will be. Thus, Vogel earns the spot nearly a month away from All-Star weekend.
George, who is almost a lock to be a starting forward in the All-Star game, praised his head coach.
“I’m happy for him,” George told reporters. “I’m looking forward to being down there with him. I came in here with him. He’s the one dude I respect the most on this team … So it’s amazing.”
All-Star weekend is slated for February 14-16.