The Indiana Pacers have been a good franchise since it was founded back in 1967, but they have not managed to win an NBA title yet. Even with great players such as Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal, and Paul George playing for the franchise; they never managed to get over the hump.
While it is extremely difficult to win an NBA title, the Pacers have been a steady enough franchise that should have at least one NBA title. However, looking through their history, it is clear why the Pacers have not won an NBA title yet.
Here are the main reasons why the Indiana Pacers have not won an NBA title.
Indiana Pacers vs. Michael Jordan, Shaq & Kobe
Perhaps the greatest team in Indiana Pacers history was led by Reggie Miller. They had a great squad including the likes of Chirs Mullin, Marc Jackson, Rik Smits, and Dale Davis among others. They had defensive stalkers and plenty of toughness throughout the squad. In any other circumstance, the Reggie Miller-led Indiana Pacers team would have been NBA champions.
However, they ran into a Chicago Bulls Dynasty led by the greatest player of all time in Michael Jordan. They could not defeat MJ and the Bulls (no one could) and so their great team went to waste in this regard.
They also ran into an extremely tough Lakers team that was led by a prime Shaquille O'Neal and a superstar Kobe Bryant. If it wasn't for these two great dynasties, the Indiana Pacers would certainly have an NBA title and Reggie Miller would not have gone down as one of the greatest players to never have won an NBA title.
The Malice At The Palace
Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, the most popular moment in their history was the “Malice At The Palace”. This was a very heavy altercation between fans and players that involved a raged Ron Artest (before he became a mellowed out Metta World Peace) jumping into the crowd to start punching fans.
This resulted in heavy suspensions for key players including Artest (who missed the season and playoffs), Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Ben Wallace. Losing Artest was especially damaging because he was a key defensive player and the main star at that time, and the Pacers never really recovered from that.
Having that sort of incident happen is obviously very disappointing, but the Pacers have had this moment scar their otherwise pristine reputation.
Key Injury To Danny Granger
The Pacers once again found themselves as title contenders when they had a young and up and coming Paul George partner an All-Star quality forward in Danny Granger. They even had a ton of height and size with Roy Hibbert and David West down low. This team was scary good in the East, and nobody wanted to play them.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, Danny Granger struggled with injuries and this effectively ended any title hopes that the Pacers had at that time. Granger was slowly developing into a superstar player, but his frustrating injury battles could not have come at a worse time for the Pacers as they never managed to make an NBA Finals.
Trading Kawhi Leonard For George Hill
Perhaps the greatest blunder in Indiana Pacers history was trading Kawhi Leonard for George Hill. Hill has been a very serviceable guard throughout his career and is a great two-way guard that can play both guard positions and defend both guard positions as well.
But he possesses nowhere near the amount of talent and skill of Kawhi Leonard, who is one of the top three players in the game today. If Indiana would have kept Kawhi Leonard and paired him with Paul George, they would certainly be NBA champions at some point. Now Indiana has to sit back and watch Kawhi and Paul George try to win together for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Facing A Miami Heat Superteam For Three Straight Years
Indiana had a very good squad led by Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and David West. They played tough defense, played team basketball, and could score the ball in the half-court. But they, unfortunately, ran into a Miami Heat super team that was created by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh during the off-season.
The Heat were dominant title contenders at that time and the Pacers truly stood no chance no matter how well they played defensively. While this is not any sort of negative mark on Indiana's history to lose to the Heatles, it's still a frustrating time for the Pacers because they felt they had a good enough team to win it all.
Key Injury To Paul George
Even when Paul George was healthy and ready to get going as the leader of the Pacers, he unfortunately suffered a gruesome injury that kept him out of action for a year. George is truly one of the best two-way players that we've seen in a very long time and the Pacers felt that they had at least had a chance to push for an NBA title with a healthy PG13.
But George missing action effectively ended all title hopes and the Pacers were left scrambling trying to find a way to survive without PG for a year.
Indiana Pacers vs. LeBron James Two More Times
The Pacers had to regroup without Roy Hibbert and David West, instead of having Paul George take all the pressure and lead the team going forward. With George at the helm, the Pacers were a pretty good team that unfortunately ran into the Beast of the East in LeBron James two more times. LeBron not only had a better team but he was just the greatest player in the world and he outmatched Paul George's impact over the course of their two meetings.
There seems to be a pattern here as a Pacers cannot get over the hump thanks to some all-time great players including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and most recently LeBron James.
Victor Oladipo's Recent Injury
The Pacers most recently acquired a budding All-Star in Victor Oladipo when they traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Oladipo as their best player and a ton of talented young players around him such as Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, they felt they could make a push in the Eastern Conference. But once again, the injury bug hit Indiana and they lost Oladipo to injury before the playoffs.
With Victor Oladipo out of action, the Pacers had zero shot to make an NBA Finals. Now, they hope they can manage to finally win one with Oladipo at the helm when he returns next season.