The Pacers’ 2000 NBA Finals team was unique for ages


(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Who could ever forget the 1999-00 Indiana Pacers team that made it to the 2000 NBA Finals?

It was the only Pacers team to reach the NBA Finals since entering the league in 1976.

It was a special group that didn’t win Indy’s first Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Since it’s NBA Finals week, it’s the perfect time to relive the memories of the 1999-00 Pacers.

The 1999-00 Pacers were a team of savvy veterans

The 1999-00 Pacers were loaded with veterans sprinkled with a hint of youth.

First off, shooter Reggie Miller was the undisputed heart and soul of the team.

His buddy Mark Jackson held the point guard position with a fifth-year man, Travis Best, backing him up.

Small left-handed forward Jalen Rose helped relieve the 34-year-old Miller.

Ten-year veteran power forward Dale “Double D” Davis feared no one – he could intimidate, block shots and grab rebounds with the best of them.

Rik Smits, the 7ft 4in Dunking Dutchman, was a reliable shooter from 15ft.

Although Smits was not known for his defense, his low post scoring prowess was invaluable to the Pacers’ cause.

Derrick McKey was a long-limbed, poker-faced defensive threat who could score the occasional three-pointer.

Austin Croshere was the unsung hero off the bench for the Pacers during their unlikely run to the NBA Finals.

Another left-handed veteran, Sam Perkins, has proven he still has a good shot despite being almost 40 years old.

Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington, Jeff Foster, Chris Mullin and Zan Tabak languished mostly on the bench but stepped up when coach Larry Bird called on them.

Reminiscing on the Pacers’ journey to the 2000 NBA Finals

The 1999-00 Pacers earned the top seed in the East due to their conference-best 56-26 win-loss record.

They won an impressive 36 games at their brand new Conseco Fieldhouse.

Thanks to Travis Best’s trifecta in Game 5 of the first round, they narrowly beat a young Milwaukee Bucks team of guys like Sam Cassell, Glenn Robinson and Ray Allen.

Miller and Co. then defeated Allen Iverson’s Philadelphia 76ers in six games in their second-round series.

Perhaps the highlight of this series was Miller and Rose scoring 40 points apiece in their lopsided 108-91 Game 1 win.

Beating the hated New York Knicks in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals was enjoyable in many ways.

The Pacers avenged the painful playoff loss to New York a year earlier – a stinging loss that highlighted Larry Johnson’s four-point play on a foul by Antonio Davis.

They also made their first NBA Finals appearance in their 24th year in the league.

The Pacers faced Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals.

Shaq took over for a limping Bryant who suffered ankle pain in the final.

O’Neal averaged 38 points and 16.7 rebounds per game to earn 2000 NBA Finals MVP honors.

Although Smits was three inches taller, Shaq’s weight and strength at the low post was just too much for him to handle.

For their part, Miller and Rose averaged a combined 47 points per game in the Finals.

Croshere stepped up and averaged 15.2 points off the bench for Indy.

Alas, their efforts weren’t enough to prevent LA from winning their 12th NBA title and the first of three consecutive championships.

The following

After their NBA Finals loss in 2000, the Pacers blew up their core.

First, head coach Larry Bird quit after the series finale loss to Los Angeles.

Smits retired after 12 NBA seasons due to persistent foot injuries.

On the other hand, Jackson flew to the Toronto Raptors in free agency and joined former Pacers teammate Antonio Davis north of the border.

The Pacers then traded Dale Davis to the Portland Trail Blazers for youngster Jermaine O’Neal in the offseason.

Mullin returned to Golden State in 2000-01 to end his storied 17-year NBA career.

The Pacers haven’t returned to the NBA Finals since that memorable 1999-00 campaign.

They almost made it when they won an incredible 61 games in 2003-04.

Unfortunately, they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games.

Nonetheless, that 1999-00 Indiana Pacers team will forever live on in the hearts of Blue and Gold fans everywhere.




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