90s nostalgia. It’s all the rage these days (for us millennials anyway). With each passing year, a bunch of kids born in the 90s become adults. With their new found time, money and independence; they choose to re-live the halcyon days of their childhood.
This is my generation, we like the 90s because it reminds us of a purer, more free time in our lives. It’s not just about innocence per se, it just seemed from our youthful points of view, that things just worked. The games seemed better; Pokemon, Zelda, Mario, Sonic, and Spyro were the staples of a lot of child hoods. The cartoons seemed better too; Dark Wing Duck and Courage the Cowardly Dog will always be some of the best TV I’ve watched in my life.
- From left to right: Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola, Lance Stephenson, George Hill, and Paul George
So it stands to reason that basketball of the 90s seemed better. It’s teams seemed more cohesive, especially compared to those of the late 2000s. The defenses were certainly better as they were allowed to get away with more. The rivalries were nastier. There was also some guy named Michael Jordan. MJ, a man who defined 90s basketball, and is compared to no other superstar before and is the standard for every superstar that followed (even Lebron James who doesn’t play like Michael at all). The 90s were also the last years that big men really reigned supreme. Maybe things weren’t better back then. Maybe that’s just how we remember it, but then again, that’s the point of nostalgia. What nostalgia does is cover everything that used to be in a veneer of perfection, and that very same reason is why we love the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers are 90s nostalgia but better. They exist now. And they’re very go. Indiana is a prototypical 90s team. Heady, aware point guard? George Hill, check. Two large temperamental big men in the paint? David West and Roy Hibbert, check and check. Versatile offensive and defensive impact player? Paul George, check. The wild card? Lance Stephenson, check.
To be fair, and you’ll have to forgive me for taking off my nostalgia colored glasses, most 90s team had all of the “essential” parts but most of those teams had some of them.
Let’s face it though. Most nostalgia is in fact quite pointless. It’s all about the feelings, there’s no practicality at all. The actual application to one’s life of watching Boy Meets World again is nil. Which is the other reason we like the Pacers. Their Clinton era roster is one that is capable of being a contender in today’s NBA on a championship level.
Indiana’s practically proof that the 90s were better. Paul George continues to grow as a player. The way he plays defense and then runs the floor makes him look like Scottie Pippen redux. Roy Hibbert is just so fundamentally sound on the low block with his ability to make hook shots, especially his running hook, that he may as well be an alien compared to guys like DeAndre Jordan and Al Horford, no disrespect to either but they don’t play big. Roy also comes off as a rather mean guy which a lot of modern big men, and players in general, just are not.
While they seemingly represent an era that is past, the Pacers play in the here and now. They play in the era of fast break and offensive juggernauts. They play in an era with Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and most importantly Lebron James. The way the Pacers play is not only a throwback but a statement. What’s the statement?
The road to the finals goes through Indianapolis.