Indy columnist shoots down Cowherd’s comments about town’s race issues with Pacers

My old New Trier West classmate, Bob Kravitz (at least one of us made good), came out swinging today at Colin Cowherd.

The ESPN radio host, who is prone to making blanket generalizations (see: hockey writers, New Orleans), said the Indiana Pacers don’t sell out their games because Indianapolis has race issues.

“You’re holding an organization to a standard that happens because of race,” Cowherd said. “There’s no other explanation why people don’t go to Pacers games.”

Kravitz, writing for the Indianapolis Star, took offense to the suggestion. He wrote:

This was in 1999-2000, back before Indianapolis became a racist town. The Indiana Pacers, playing their first season at Conseco Fieldhouse, sold out every game.

This was in 2004-05, the season of The Brawl, but still well before Indy turned virulently racist. The Pacers averaged 16,994 fans per game and had more than 13,000 full season ticket holders or season-ticket-holder equivalents.

This was in 2008, before Indy’s latent, simmering racism reared its ugly head. The city, and the state, helped elect Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, the first time Indiana had gone for a Democratic presidential nominee in decades.

Kravitz pegged the attendance decline on the fallout from that ugly Detroit-Indiana brawl in 2004 followed by several years of bad basketball.

Here’s the big one: The NBA season-ticket-buying culture in Indianapolis is dead, at least for now. That has nothing to do with race. That has everything to do with six years of really bad basketball.

Here’s what Colin doesn’t quite get as he watches from afar in Bristol, Conn. After that 2004-05 season, pro basketball died here in Indianapolis. Ron Artest went crazy. Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley and others got in trouble. The team made the playoffs, but it was an unlikable team, and the Pacers were forced to trade off all those players in order to change the culture.

The result was five or six years of nice guys who couldn’t play a lick of basketball.

Then Kravitz posed this question:

Atlanta, another city with a pretty good team, doesn’t draw for the Hawks. And that is a much more populated city with a huge black population. Is it race there, too? Do they hate Zaza Pachulia?

Watch out, Atlanta. You could be next.


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