Mar 20, 2013, 11:21 AM EDT
George Hill says he didn’t want to insult Pacers fans, he just wants to see more of them.
The Los Angeles Lakers came to Indiana last Friday and, as happens most places the Lakers visit, there were a lot of L.A. fans in the building. The Lakers are one of the NBA’s handful of national brands and they have fans everywhere. But Hill said after the game that there were too many Lakers fans and, “We’ve been trouble free. Been out in the community shaking hands, we’re winning. It shouldn’t feel like an away game, especially with an important like this.”
As you might imagine, that didn’t go over well — Hill got ripped on twitter, on sports talk radio and in the papers by Pacers fans who felt insulted.
Back home Tuesday before the Pacers rolled the Magic, Hill was asked about it all and tried to clarify his comments, speaking with the Indianapolis Star.
“I’m not saying you can’t be somebody’s fan,” said Hill, an Indianapolis native who went to Broad Ripple High School and IUPUI. “I was a Michael Jordan fan growing up, but when I did go to the games, I always rooted for my hometown team.
“You root for who you want to root for, but I know one day that we’re going to get it like it used to be at Market Square Arena. That’s my dream, that’s my goal from when I first got here, to help bring fans back. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
Hill was frustrated after a Pacers loss to the Lakers and vented. Which really isn’t the best way to get the fans back in the building. But the native son wasn’t booed by the Pacers faithful Tuesday either.
Indiana fans know basketball. They supported this team wildly back in the Reggie Miller/Mark Jackson era, but that was a winning team that was exciting to watch. This Pacers team is starting to win and fans are starting to return.
Make it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals this year and you’ll see a lot of support, Hill. But it’s going to take a little more offensive punch from the Pacers to get there.