I have (finally) completed a book that was decades in the making, in time for the Pacers' 50th birthday.
"Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis" tells the story of the formation of the franchise in 1967 and its first two tumultuous seasons in the American Basketball Association -- seasons that laid the groundwork for the championships that followed. The first game was played on Oct. 14, 1967, so the timing is right to tell the story of the franchise that brought professional basketball back to Indy after a 14-year absence.
I have attempted to capture the dedicated effort to establish the franchise, the carefree, raucous nature of professional basketball at the time, and the unique stories of the players and other people involved with the team. It was an era never to be repeated, when a $6,000 down payment could claim a franchise, games were played in primitive arenas before a couple hundred fans, fights were commonplace, a player could toss a gun into his duffel bag and take it on a road trip and an 88-foot desperation game-winning heave could alter a life.
I grew up in Indianapolis and attended some of the games during these two seasons, and went on to cover the Pacers for The Indianapolis Star for 12 seasons, from 1996-2008, so I am familiar with most of the team's history. For this project, which goes deep rather than broad, I combed through the archives of several newspapers throughout the country, was given access to the personal files of one of the owners and interviewed dozens of players and other people connected with the franchise. I've exposed myths, revealed insights and told heart-warming, heart-breaking and hilarious anecdotes.
The book is 400 pages long and includes more than 50 photographs -- many never before published. Those who witnessed ABA games will enjoy reliving those days, and younger fans will find it hard to believe such a time existed.
"Reborn" is available at central Indiana bookstores and online sources. I encourage anyone living near Indianapolis to patronize a local bookstore if at all possible, rather than buying online.
I have conducted several signings, and have more scheduled. Next, I'll be at Georgetown Market on Indy's northwest side on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 1-2:30 (if not later). My brother, Rick, owns this store. I'll be appearing with former Colts safety Marlin Jackson, who will be collecting donations for his foundation's toy drive. Marlin's foundation does great work in the community, and deserves your support.