Indiana Pacers – Founded in 1967, the Indiana Pacers joined the NBA in 1976 after a highly successful stint in the ABA. Indiana reached the ABA Finals five times in eight years and it captured the championship in 1970, 1972 and 1973 under the direction of head coach Bobby Leonard.
The Pacers transition to the NBA was a rough one, though, as they qualified for the playoffs just two times between the 1976-77 and 1988-89 seasons. And the lost in the opening round on both occasions.
However, the franchise’s fortunes turned in the late 1980’s with the acquisition of Reggie Miller. The 11th overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, Miller led the Pacers to the postseason 16 times in his 18 year career and six times the advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to his tremendous ability and leadership.
When Miller retired following the 2004-2005 season, he was Indiana’s career leader in games played, minutes played, field goals, field goal attempts, three-point field goals, free throws, assists, steals and points.
Indiana has reached the NBA Finals on just one occasion, doing so in 2000 with Larry Bird on the sidelines. Bird guided the team to a 56-26 regular season record and Indiana went on to defeat the Bucks, 76ers and Knicks in the Eastern Conference Playoffs before falling in six games to the Lakers in the championship round.
Bird, who garnered NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1998, coached Indiana for just three seasons, but he is the club’s all-time leader in regular season and playoff win percentage at .687 and .615, respectively.
Along with Miller’s No. 31, the following Pacers have also had their numbers retired: George McGinnis (30), Mel Daniels (34), Roger Brown (35) and Bobby Leonard (529).
Leonard’s 529 represents his career regular season win total; he coached the team from 1968 to 1980 and presided over the club’s three ABA titles.
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