The basketball world was rocked with the emergence of the Indiana Pacers, specifically the newly minted superstar Paul George. The team that pushed the champions to the limit will be a force to reckon with next year. Yet, most people forget that the Pacers have even missed their highest scorer. Danny Granger talks about the possibilities.
Danny Granger, who missed all but five games this season, gave his first extensive interview to the media after the game. Here’s the Q&A from the media session.
Your thoughts on the team?
A: I’m extremely proud, especially the younger guys. Paul George, Lance Stephenson, the growth they’ve shown this year is really admirable. We lost me and we had to rotate how we were going to play. They stepped up. Roy had another great year, George Hill had a great year. It’s another step for us. We started three years ago. We kind of snuck into the playoffs against the Bulls. We got to the second round, lost to the Heat, lost to Heat again, but it’s building blocks. We keep building toward our final goal.
The joy in seeing the team grow after years of struggle?
A: I’m so happy, I don’t even know how to describe it. My wife was like, ‘You’ve been just so happy walking around here.’ It’s exciting to see us doing so well. I’ve been here through all the years we weren’t doing so well. We drafted Roy, we drafted Paul, we drafted Lance, the cornerstones of our foundation and it’s been impressive to see them grow.
What do you see in the possibilities with you and Paul together next year?
A: It’s scary. I think it’s really scary what we can do when we play together….For the most part, our future is very, very bright.
How confident are you that you’ll be 100 percent and able to contribute?
A: I’m confident. My rehab is probably another month and a half to two months, so I’ll be ready for the season. It’s just a matter of time.
How hard was it to sit and watch knowing no matter if it was you or Lance coming off the bench, you guys would have been a spark plug?
A: It hurts more so than when I actually tried to play and I knew I could do a little bit, but I couldn’t do everything. Then I had to shut it down again. It hurts, but I tried to tell myself don’t worry about things you can’t control. It just happened. It happened to me and I’ll come back from it.
What did you see out there during Game 7?
A: People talk about the Miami and they say they’re an old team, but they have a lot of experience. Ray Allen couldn’t make a shot for the first four or five games, and he gets to Game 7 and can’t miss. D-Wade starts making shots, Chris Bosh making 3’s. They’re a veteran team and when you have that veteran experience. They’ve all played in big playoff moments. It shows, they’re a young team and this was our first time really on the big stage in 10 years as franchise. The veteran leadership they had, the veteran experience really outweighed our young guys.
What will this series do for the team going forward?
A: I think over the last three years, the experience we’ve developed has led us to this point. Even when we lost to the Bulls in the playoffs, they beat us 4-1. The next year we lose to Miami in six and now we lose in the conference finals. All that experience builds. No team jumps to the forefront based on the talent that they have. You have to experience those moments. It’s just another building block.
What happened in Dallas when you were supposed to play in March?
A: It wasn’t the pain, it was that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. According to the MRI’s and everything, we saw what was in there. We thought I could play with it and I couldn’t. It was really small, they removed it and we just went on from there. I wasn’t going to play on one leg. Just wasn’t.
What did the doctors remove?
A: I had a piece of scar tissue in my patella tendon.
What role do you foresee for yourself next year?
A: I expect to be back in the starting lineup. We really didn’t have a drop off from the team before in this team. We lost to the Heat again and my role is kind of secondary to my health.