Kevin Pritchard apologizes for insinuating Pacers don’t have a star
Pacers president Kevin Pritchard, via Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
That quote might not have sat so well with Pacers big Domantas Sabonis, who has made the last two All-Star games.
Pritchard is backtracking.
1/Although I don’t respond much I thought I would give my 2 cents. First of all, I believe in all our players and hold them to the highest of order. In all honesty I believe we have multiple “stars” on our team but we all know we need more. We have challenged our players to be— Kevin Pritchard (@PacersKev) December 13, 2021
2/better. The point specially was so believe we can close games at higher levels and if we do our record will reflect it. Could i have used a better word than “stars” probably. When you get interviewed for hours your prob gonna slip up.— Kevin Pritchard (@PacersKev) December 13, 2021
3/ I speak with our players everyday and i felt bad for using that word.— Kevin Pritchard (@PacersKev) December 13, 2021
4/ an appropriate apology was sent. No one believes more in this team…— Kevin Pritchard (@PacersKev) December 13, 2021
Pritchard committed the classic blunder: He told the truth.
Sabonis is a very good player. But he has significant defensive limitations, and his bullying offensive style doesn’t translate quite as well against better opponents.
Consider Sabonis a low-end star? That’s reasonable. Consider Sabonis a notch below? Also reasonable.
You don’t have to defer your star judgments to Eastern Conference coaches who seemingly wanted to reward Indiana’s balanced team success by assigning outsized credit to a single player. Sabonis was the last pick in the 2020 All-Star draft. Last season, he was an injury replacement. Hardly definitive.
Paul George led the Pacers to back-to-back Eastern Conference finals and went toe-to-toe with LeBron James, pushing the eventual-champion Heat to seven games in 2013. Oladipo was an efficient go-to scorer while still playing tight defense. They were no-doubt stars, “real stars.”
But nothing confers star status more than actual All-Star selections. And Sabonis has two in the last two years.
I appreciate Pritchard’s initial candor, and his clarification is reasonable. “Star” is a vague subjective term, as is “real star.” “Superstar” might land closer to what Pritchard meant.
Pritchard’s job isn’t just speaking publicly, though. He must manage players’ personalities. We’ll see how far his apology goes with someone already rumored to want a trade.
When a report emerged in 2019 Indiana was looking into trading Sabonis, he said, “I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now.” If Sabonis already believed the organization doesn’t fully value him, Pritchard’s quote probably didn’t help.