Pacers’ McMillan wants players to be ready to return


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It has been nearly two months since the NBA shut down indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As teams wait to hear when they can return to action, Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan is encouraging his players to be ready to compete whenever that day should come. 

“My message to the players is be in the mindset of playing basketball,” McMillan told media Tuesday.

McMillan says he has not been a part of any conversations about whether teams would consider resuming play without fans.

“If we’re not playing in front of fans, it’s still basketball,” he said. “Once you get on that floor and lace them up and there’s another opponent, you can play this game.”

The team’s practice facility, the St. Vincent Center located downtown, remains closed. So, the Pacers are unable to train together. Many players have access to private gyms, but that is not the case for everyone on the roster.

“More of your vet players have access to facilities, where they’ve done this over the last few years. Maybe they’re in the state they go to in the off-season,” McMillan said. “A guy like Goga (Bitadze) is living in an apartment, everything is shut down for him. He doesn’t have that same access.”

McMillan said he is spending some of his spare time keeping up with “The Last Dance,” a ten-part sports documentary about Michael Jordan. Parts seven through ten will air over the next two Sundays on ESPN.

McMillan spent his entire 12-year playing career with the Seattle SuperSonics, and recalls tension he felt before facing Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. 

“He was a guy who you didn’t sleep much the night before the game knowing you had to play against him,” McMillan said.

According to the Pacers website, tickets purchased can be used for rescheduled games. Single game ticket refunds can be obtained through point of purchase.  

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