Pacers fans should be thrilled with Victor Oladipo’s reaction to coaching hire

Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Indiana Pacers fans should be thrilled with Victor Oladipo’s response to the head coaching hire

On Wednesday afternoon, the Indiana Pacers formally introduced their new head coach, Nate Bjorkgren. His introductory press conference was incredibly energetic and optimistic. He’s excited about the new role and it’s clear that everyone in the Pacers organization is excited to have him as well.

But perhaps the most important positive reaction came from a player, one who has been said to be on the outs from the team for some time — Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo has been rumored to want out of Indiana since the season ended, something that has been confirmed by multiple reporters. At this point, his situation is dangerously close to a Paul George-like outcome, which the Pacers certainly would like to avoid.

Victor Oladipo’s reaction to Nate Bjokrgren’s hire is great for Pacers fans

As told in Wheat Hotchkiss’s column on Bjorkgren’s introduction, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard had this to say about Oladipo’s reaction to Nate Bjokrgren’s first meeting (Zoom call) with the players:

"“We did a Zoom with the whole team yesterday and Victor spoke up and was as positive as I’ve ever seen him,” Prichard said “…We have a great relationship. He feels good about the team. He’s talked to me about how he thinks this team can be very good.”"

As far as Oladipo’s interaction with Bjokrgren himself? He was one of the first to text him and presumably congratulate him on the hire. He picked up the phone and started talking shop with Oladipo right away.

For Pacers fans, this is a breath of fresh air compared to what has come out of the Pacers rumor mill as of late. Maybe now the Oladipo trade speculation will slow down (likely not) since he seems to be a bit more on board with the Pacers after the coaching hire.

If there’s one word to describe Bjokrgren’s early impression on the Pacers organization, it’s “infectious.” Everyone speaks highly of him and approves wholeheartedly of the hire. His high energy and excitement for the role come across, even through a Zoom call. In 2020, that’s saying something.

Pritchard called the hire a no-brainer.

And let’s remember one of the main reported reasons for why Nate McMillan was fired — Poor relationship building with players:

And let’s hear what Bjorkgren has to say about that first phone call with Oladipo:

"“I called him right back,” Bjorkgren said. “He was just getting ready to work out. We had a great talk. We talked about what I thought he could do, what I thought he could bring to this team, how he could make this team better, and how he could make himself better…I like his energy. I feel like our energy fed off each other a little bit there during the phone call.”"

A coach doesn’t need to be a player’s best friend off the floor to have a good relationship. But showing interest in Oladipo and what he can bring to the team right off the bat when Bjorkgren admitted he was getting a text every five second for hours on the day that he was hired is a good first sign.

It’s probably not the end of the road for the Pacers and the Oladipo drama. But it sure feels like a step in the right direction, doesn’t it?

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