Another year passes and the Indiana Pacers won’t win the NBA championship in 2023. But what is the history of the Pacers and the NBA championship? One of the biggest knocks on the franchise is a whole is that they have, in fact, never won an NBA Championship. They have however, been to the championship and won multiple ABA championships in their storied history.
The Pacers have been to the NBA championship game once in their franchise history. They have in fact only been to one NBA finals series, where they took on the buzzsaw of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The Pacers however put up a great effort, but ultimately lost the series 4-2 at the hands of the Lakers.
The Pacers have been close in the NBA a number of times
The Pacers have been close to the finals multiple times. They reached the eastern conference championship during the Reggie Miller era multiple times (94, 95, 98, 99, 00, 04) and during the Paul George era (13, 14). But have only crossed that line into the finals once.
However, that doesn’t mean the Pacers haven’t won any championships in their history, they actually were the class of the league during their time in the ABA.
A storied ABA franchise with lots of success
You may not remember, but while the Celtics were dominating the pre-merger NBA, the Indiana Pacers were dominating the pre-merger ABA, appearing in all but four ABA championship games (winning 3 of them, losing 2 of them).
The Pacers won the ABA championships in the following years:
- 1970 as the Eastern Conference Champion
- 1972 as the Western Conference Champion
- 1973 as the Western Conference Champion
Now some might say that the ABA was an easier league, but you’d be hard pressed to find data that supports that assumption. The ABA had a winning record against NBA teams as well as every time the champions of the two leagues met, the ABA champion won the matchup.
So as other NBA fans throw around insults that the Pacers haven’t won an NBA championship, make sure to remind them that the Pacers once dominated the league that was better than the NBA.