Pacers owner Herb Simon breaks his silence, shares his thoughts on the team and desire to rebuild 'on the go'
He invited several writers into a conference room for a discussion about his team and where they're headed.
Herb Simon is tired of reading what he supposedly said and decisions he reportedly made about the Pacers, the NBA franchise he’s proudly owned in 1983. So he decided to do something he can’t remember the last time he did.
“This is my first discussion with the press in three years, four years, five years…”
I’ve been on the beat since 2012 and let’s just say, it’s been a while.
He invited Fieldhouse Files, along with four other media outlets, for an open conversation about the organization inside the still sparkling $50 million practice facility on Wednesday.
We were on the fourth floor and fittingly, inside the Simon Conference Room. We filled every other seat, ready for Simon to arrive on a warm, yet gloomy winter day with clouds filling the downtown Indianapolis skyline.
He arrived a few minutes early, sharply dressed with a navy sport on top of a black sweater and blue button-down shirt. He had coffee in a white cup and a green glass bottle of Perrier water on the table to his left, and three Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups sitting in front of him.
Simon, who turned 87 years old in October, sat down at the head of the table — of course — removed his mask and had a lot to share.
“I don’t think my job as owner is to be involved with the press all the time, but not to avoid it either,” he began. “And to be quite frank, I was a little concerned about some of the articles in the paper that said what I said to this and that — without calling me and asking me did I say that or did I do that.”
One week ago, The Athletic published a story reporting the Pacers are “are moving toward a substantial rebuild…” That led to president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and head coach Rick Carlisle gathering the core four players into the office for a conversation after practice.
“It’s the reason why we’re here,” Simon said.
He was asked about the story and whether the organization is moving toward a rebuild or retool? “That’s not correct,” he said to the reporter. “And I would have told you that if you called me.”
So at last, he made himself available to answer any questions. During a 41-minute conversation, he answered 38 questions ranging from his willingness to rebuild the roster to poor attendance and challenges of being in a small market.
To start, he was seemingly disgusted with the idea that his team would tank or consider a serious rebuild.
“We are not a franchise that is going to dump to get a better pick,” he said. “We’re going to try to win every game. Sometimes we’ll develop rookie players, which may cost us a game, but we’re never gonna to go into a game to lose while I’m an owner. I don’t believe in it. Some teams do, but I don’t believe in that.
“If you remember, going back to Donnie Walsh, we always built without tearing down. We built on the go. We can do the same thing. We can have a good team and get better rather than break it up to get better. As a fan, I don’t want to do that. And I don’t believe our fans deserve to see a team that’s purposely losing. I don’t ever want to be accused of that.”