By CLIFF BRUNT
As a black man, I was fascinated by the overwhelmingly negative response on Twitter to Indiana’s selection of Miles Plumlee. Many of them, from my Caucasian brethren, focused on the untrue belief that outgoing team president Larry Bird had once again found a slow, unathletic white guy to add to the roster.
Yes, the Pacers have had more white players than most teams over the years, but two things hold true. The ones the Pacers have chosen have been productive, and several have been fairly athletic.
I’m pointing out as food for thought that my light-skinned friends in the Hoosier state often hate these guys on draft day, then love them once they start playing. They like the idea of the next Larry Bird, they just don’t want the Pacers to actually draft or trade for anything that resembles him. In any way. As someone who is not from Indiana (Omaha, Neb.), it is an absolutely mind-boggling thing to witness.
Just for fun, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 white guys who have played for the Pacers since Bird became team president in 2003. They are not all Bird’s responsibility “ some joined the team before he became an executive, some were brought in by Donnie Walsh. All get connected to Bird by association (that’s how Pacers fans do it). I’m counting foreign players, too. And, yes, there were enough to leave people off the list (Sorry, Primoz Brezec, Rasho Nesterovic and Kyrylo Fesenko).
We’re not counting the white guys who played while Bird coached, but out of respect, I’m giving shout-outs to Chris Mullin, Brad Miller, Detlef Schrempf and Rik Smits.
To be clear, I have no issue with white guys as long as they can play. I’ve played team sports for years, and some of the most athletic guys I’ve played against are much lighter than myself. Back in 1992, my hoop-it-up team got dunked on by a 5-10 white guy named Brian Hart. The fastest guy on my varsity football team was David Alderman. We called him White Lightning. He played for Nebraska and has rings. Pretty athletic guy.
Feel free to comment, but keep it clean or your thought will never see daylight. Remember to click the links to continue through the list.
10. Scot Pollard, C, 2003-2006 (Kansas)
Pollard gained a cult-like following for his unique hairstyles and facial hair. He was a tough player who started 52 games in his three years with the team. In his best season with Indiana, he started 32 games in 2007-08 and averaged 3.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
9. Travis Diener, G, 2007-10 (Marquette)
Diener was a solid backup point guard who could shoot. He started 21 games in 2007-08 and averaged 6.9 points and 3.8 assists that season. The next year, he averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 assists and shot 39 percent from 3-point range. He played briefly for the Pacers in 2009-10.