After everyone thought they got fleeced when they were forced to deal away Paul George, the Indiana Pacers were the surprise of the 2017-18 season. Most pundits predicted a win total in the 30’s with only the most optimistic Pacers fans holding out hopes for a playoff berth. Few, however, knew just how good of a player they had acquired in Victor Oladipo. In this interview published on NBA.com, Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard dives into what the Pacers look for in players, how Oladipo sets the tone in the organization, and how Larry Bird made everyone he played with better. In the article, Pritchard references Indiana’s “Three T. I did a little research and this refers to the organization’s three core values of Trust, Toughness and Togetherness.
We challenged him. Victor’s not the kind of kid that when I talk to him wants to hear how great he is. He’s got an internal compass that’s a strong confidence in himself and his abilities. I never worry about that. I don’t worry about his work ethic. I don’t worry about him as a great teammate. Of any player I’ve ever had, whatever his ceiling is, he’s going to get to it. He’s obsessed with becoming a great basketball player. He’s had a helluva off-season. He’ll go through some ups and downs like every player does in this league, but I have faith he’ll bounce back quick. I just think he’ll take the baton of leadership. My challenge to him is this. I played with Larry Bird. He was the best player I had ever played with. Him and Danny Manning in college (at Kansas). And those two had one specific thing that they did that was incredible, and that’s when they stepped on the court the other four players thought they were better. When I played with Larry I was just a little bit better. When I played with Danny, I was just a little bit better. That will be his next growth. He steps on the court and the other four guys go, “I’ve got this guy in my trench? We’re going to be OK tonight.” I don’t want to put it all on him, but good players do for themselves and great players do for others. He’s got the opportunity to do that.