Roy Hibbert is an NBA All-Star Center for the Indiana Pacers. Have you seen him by any chance?
Hibbert, after helping the Pacers to the best record in the East this season and home court advantage for the playoffs, has seemingly disappeared offensively and defensively. In fact, the once mighty Pacers limped into the postseason and lower seeded teams were fighting to get their shots at the “beasts” of the east. There have been four games in the 2014 Playoffs when Hibbert was held scoreless with only a handful of stats to even prove that he was in the building.
This is the same Roy Hibbert who signed a lucrative contract extension just last year. The same Hibbert who, prior to the stellar rise of fellow All-Star Paul George, was slowly making the Indiana Pacers his team. All of that, like his offense, seems to be forgotten.
After a game four loss to the defending champion Miami Heat, Hibbert pointed fingers at everybody but himself. Gone is the blocking machine that started the first two weeks of the season on a historic tear, when he led 19 other NBA teams in blocks. One man had more blocks than 19 teams. Missing is the bravado that turned the opposing team’s paint into a battle zone. Roy Hibbert has turned into a long-armed liability who now seems to flop more than he dunks.
The Indiana Pacers feel the loss of their center. Without an inside presence–on both ends of the court–shooters like David West and Lance Stephenson are forced to play hybrid positions and the entire team suffers. The once unstoppable Pacers, who dominated all of basketball for the first half of the season, have dropped to a series of question marks, and now sit on the verge of elimination in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Roy Hibbert isn’t the only problem with this team as cracks can be seen in all five starters. Paul George has made some terrible turnovers, George Hill has been rendered completely ineffective, and Lance Stephenson is more adept at running his mouth than playing his game.
It’s Hibbert’s fall that is the longest and hardest. And that fall has dragged down a team, an organization, and an entire city that was dreaming of ticker tape parades and hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy high into the sky as champions. Those dreams are now gone.
Just Like Roy Hibbert’s game.