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And Another Thing

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Those invisible Pacers

Roy Hibbert has done the manly thing, apologizing for a gratuitous gay slur he threw into his post-Game 6 comments for reasons that continue to escape rational examination.

Seriously, why, in 2013, do people keep going to that well? What's the thought process behind it, and what is it supposed to prove? In this day and age -- in any day and age, really -- it's as inappropriate as belching at a funeral. All it does is make you look ignorant and pathetic, someone more to be pitied than anything else.

So, good on Hibbert for recognizing as much. And for acknowledging it was wrong to drop an f-bomb later on, when asked how on earth someone who's destroying the Heat on the defensive end could have finished 10th in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.

Here's the thing about that, though: Don't let the poor choice of phrasing obscure the fact that Hibbert sort of brushed up against an essential truth.

Which is, yes, the major media organizations who drive perception in this country -- all of which are located largely on both coasts -- routinely overlook the Pacers, and it's not even subtle. Tune in ESPN during the New York series, and it was all about the Knicks losing, not the Pacers winning. Tune it in now, and it's all about the Heat and how LeBron's being forced to carry two-thirds of the Big Three, not about what Paul George and Hibbert and Lance Stephenson et al have done to force a Game 7.

So, yeah, Hibbert was dead on when he said the media "don't watch us play throughout the year, to tell you the truth." And if part of that is because the Pacers are more about team than star power -- think of them as the Eastern Conference version of the Spurs, without the championship pedigree -- part of it undoubtedly has to do with location.

This is, after all, Flyover America -- a term that originated, you bet, on the coasts. And which implies an inherent sense that it's off the radar and will always be off the radar.

No matter how big a blip it makes.

Ben Smith's blog.

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