It's the 10th anniversary of a debut that derailed the Indiana Pacers' title hopes

The Indiana Pacers were rolling back in 2014 and ended up getting the number-one seed in the East. Yet, they made a signing that couldn't have backfired harder on them and derailed their title hopes. That player debuted for the team ten years ago.

Mar 15, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Indiana Pacers center Andrew Bynum (17) is defended by Detroit
Mar 15, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Indiana Pacers center Andrew Bynum (17) is defended by Detroit / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013-14 season was one that held a lot of hope for Indiana Pacers fans. Coming off a season in which they were one game away from making the NBA Finals, the Pacers were a juggernaut. They felt like the difference in that series with the Heat was home-court advantage, which Miami had.

All season long, the Pacers were hellbent on getting the number-one seed to lock up home-court. The organization believed that's what they needed in order to get over the hump and get to the Finals. They even started out that season 16-1, which is the best start in franchise history.

Right before the All-Star break, the Pacers decided to sign someone who would help torpedo their season and destroy the confidence of one of their all-star players. On February 1st, they decided to sign Andrew Bynum. He made his Pacers debut on this day ten years ago.

The signing of Andrew Bynum sunk the Pacers' run at an NBA title

I was actually at Bynum's debut against the Boston Celtics. I sat in the upper deck with some of my friends and watched him actually play well. Looking back, he played too well. He had 8 points and 10 rebounds in just 15 minutes as the Pacers beat Boston.

At the time, we thought it was great! The Pacers finally have a quality backup to Roy Hibbert who can give some good minutes. He was a buyout guy, so he was a cheap, low-risk asset. Based on that debut, me and my friends thought this team just shored up their biggest weakness.

Boy, were we wrong. Bynum would only play one more game for the Pacers before his troublesome knee swelled up and took out for the rest of the year. Bynum hasn't played in the NBA since. That wasn't the biggest problem. The problem was what his signing did for the confidence of Hibbert.

Hibbert seemed to think that Bynum's signing threatened his status as the starting center for some reason, even though he was an all-star that year. He cratered after the signing. He averaged almost 10 rebounds a game before the Bynum signing. When the season ended, he averaged just 6.6 for the entire season.

We'll never know what happened in the locker room behind the scenes. The Danny Granger/Evan Turner trade was also a disaster so that definitely hurt Indiana too. All I know is that Hibbert, who is 7'2, couldn't lead the team in rebounds in 15 of the 19 playoff games the Pacers played that year.

This will forever be a flashpoint in Indiana Pacers history. Would they have been better off having never signed Bynum? Probably. Would they have been able to beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals without the move? Who knows. It's a frustrating fork in the road.


Tyrese Haliburton is trying to lead a new era of Pacers into title contention now. They haven't come close since that Heat series ten years ago.