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The Pacers have to keep fighting.
With all of the adversity the Indiana Pacers have gone through this season, some are suggesting that the Pacers should throw in the towel for the rest of this season and concentrate on next season. After all, missing the playoffs would put the Pacers in a good spot for the 2005 NBA Draft.
I could not disagree more. The Pacers should certainly do what they need to do to make sure the players are healthy for next season and do not risk serious injury, even if includes sitting their best players for an extended period of time. But the Pacers must keep scratching and clawing, trying to find a way to win.
The answer is simple. David Stern and the NBA brass "car bombed" (to borrow a phrase from Governor Mitch Daniels) the Pacers' season with the excessive and unprecedented suspensions of Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson. David Stern proved in November how deep the corruption runs. No action was ever taken against convicted felon John Green, who is more responsible for the brawl with fans than anyone else. No action was ever taken against the Detroit Pistons organization for the inexcusable and criminal behavior of their "fans".
The Pacers have to keep fighting. This is about more than the fact that multi-million dollar salaries obligate players to work hard even when they are losing. Something more important is at stake here. The Pacers have to stand on principle and defend the honor of the league. Giving up on the rest of the season would be surrender to the corruption at the highest levels of the NBA. This isn't about basketball any more; this is about fighting a corrupt power structure in the NBA.
You also have to consider that the Eastern Conference is weak. Even if they enter the playoffs as the #8 seed, Indiana can still make it to the NBA Finals. The Pistons can be beat. The Miami Heat can be defeated. None of the teams in the Atlantic Division are anything to write home about. The New York Knicks went to the 1999 NBA Finals despite being a #8 seed, and this Pacers team is better than that Knicks team.