Fans think with their hearts. That’s the fun of being a fan.
And back in the 1987 draft, the fans in Indiana wanted the Pacers to draft Steve Alford. He was Indiana born and bred, and Alford had just led the Indiana Hosiers to the national championship.
Donnie Walsh was the GM of the Pacers at the time and in speaking to the Indy Star admitted he felt the pressure to draft Alford. But Walsh’s eye had been drawn to a skinny West Coast kid playing at UCLA who could just flat out put the ball in the basket — Reggie Miller.
And with the 11th pick that year, the Pacers took him over Alford. Angering fans but proving smart as Miller went on to a career that lands him in the Hall of Fame this weekend. So, why Miller over Alford?
“Number one, Reggie was a two guard and we needed that position. We had a veteran there, but the guy was getting older and we wanted to try and build our team up….
“I went to (former coach) Jack Ramsey and I gave him a film of Reggie and told him to watch him because I felt like he was a much better basketball player than a shooter. He was a scorer and he incredible basketball smarts. I had been over to Hawaii and I scouted him a lot to know that. Jack, the next day, came to me and said, ‘Let’s take this guy. This guy is good. He’s real good. That’s what we did.’
“I knew Reggie was the guy at a certain point in the process. I wasn’t going to stand up and say it. There was a lot of fan sentiment for Alford because they had just won the championship. The fans weren’t happy the year before when we selected Chuck Person. Chuck won Rookie of the Year and I think it’s pretty obvious that Reggie turned out to be a good pick.”
Ya think? About as good a pick as they could have made.