ESPN shamefully forgets Pacers exist (but they soon won't)

One of the biggest media companies seemingly has a hard time getting on board with one of the most exciting teams in the league.
Tyrese Haliburton, Aaron Nesmith, Indiana Pacers
Tyrese Haliburton, Aaron Nesmith, Indiana Pacers / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

When discussing the NBA, it is clear that a big market bias exists at some level. Several of the biggest and most recognizable media companies only have interest in discussing the Lakers and Knicks, leaving small market teams like the Indiana Pacers left behind and wondering what they have to do in order to be talked about more.

Because the truth is, big market does not always equate to better basketball team. Plenty of smaller markets have built extremely high-level teams in recent years, like the 2021 Bucks and 2023 Nuggets, to use two recent champions as examples. There is certainly a natural draw for teams located in the big American cities, but to promote their brands over a good basketball product seems like negligence.

Plenty of fans are fed up with this, because it is not the way other profitable sports are marketed and covered. Pandering to teams like the Lakers year after year has gotten old. Thankfully, this year's conference finals in the NBA has given us several new up-and-coming teams from less-recognized markets to cheer on.

In the Western Conference is the Minnesota Timberwolves, making their first conference finals appearance in two decades. Then the East features an exciting Pacers team that is back in the conference finals for the first time in 10 years. However, Indiana is not necessarily getting their due recognition, even at this stage in the game.

Tim Legler explained ESPN's issue with the Pacers

Appearing on The Ryen Russillo Podcast, ESPN NBA Analyst Tim Legler explained why the network that many go to for their sports news and analysis has an issue with the Indiana Pacers. "I wish I had video of all the meetings I’ve been in this year at ESPN when I wanted to talk more about the Indiana Pacers," he said. "Particularly, after they got [Pascal] Siakam, and it's just not sexy enough [for them]."

While this is a disappointing development, it is hardly shocking for those that have been paying attention all along. The Pacers were only given six 2023-24 national TV games at the beginning of the season, behind plenty of teams that did not even make the playoffs. This includes the Warriors, who were awarded a whopping 41 national TV games.

Legler puts it perfectly when describing why it is such a shame that a big network like ESPN would undersell one of its better, more marketable teams like Indiana. "Number one, that's a fun style to play in ... but just how hard it is to guard. How hard it is to prepare when they have this many guys that can make shots, and they don't waste one dribble."

Regardless of the lack of recognition seemingly everyone at ESPN minus Legler has given the Pacers, they have succeeded anyway. Beating the odds after coming into the playoffs as the sixth seed, Indiana is only four wins away from an NBA Finals. Obviously, they are severely undermatched against these Boston Celtics. But the more the Pacers continue to win, the less big networks will be able to keep ignoring them.