Who could ever forget the 1999-00 Indiana Pacers team that made it to the 2000 NBA Finals?
That was the only Pacers squad that made it to the NBA Finals since they entered the league in 1976.
It was a special group that fell short of winning Indy’s first Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Since it’s NBA Finals Week, it’s a great time to relive the memories of the 1999-00 Pacers.
The 1999-00 Pacers Were A Savvy Veteran Squad
The 1999-00 Pacers were loaded with veterans sprinkled with a dash of youth.
First off, shooting guard Reggie Miller was the undisputed heart and soul of the team.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 2, 2022
His buddy Mark Jackson ran the point guard position with fifth-year man Travis Best backing him up.
Lefty small forward Jalen Rose helped take the scoring load off the 34-year-old Miller’s shoulders.
Ten-year veteran power forward Dale “Double D” Davis feared nobody down low – he could intimidate, block shots, and snag rebounds with the best of them.
Rik Smits, the 7-foot-4 Dunking Dutchman, was a reliable shooter from 15 feet and in.
Although Smits wasn’t known for his defense, his low-post scoring prowess was invaluable to the Pacers’ cause.
Derrick McKey was a long-limbed and poker-faced defensive menace who could score the occasional three-pointer.
Austin Croshere was the unsung hero off the Pacers’ bench during their improbable NBA Finals run.
Another lefty veteran, Sam Perkins, proved he still had a sweet stroke despite being almost 40 years old.
Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington, Jeff Foster, Chris Mullin, and Zan Tabak languished mostly on the bench but stepped up when coach Larry Bird asked them to.
Reminiscing The Pacers’ Journey To The 2000 NBA Finals
The 1999-00 Pacers earned the East’s top seed by virtue of their conference-best 56-26 win-loss record.
They won an impressive 36 games at their brand-new Conseco Fieldhouse.
Thanks to Travis Best’s corner trifecta in Game 5 of the opening round, they narrowly beat a young Milwaukee Bucks squad that featured guys like Sam Cassell, Glenn Robinson, and Ray Allen.
Miller and co. then defeated Allen Iverson‘s Philadelphia 76ers in six games in their second-round series.
Arguably the highlight of that series was Miller and Rose scoring 40 points apiece in their lopsided 108-91 victory in Game 1.
Beating the hated New York Knicks in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals was sweet in several regards.
The Pacers avenged the painful playoff loss to New York a year earlier – a stinging defeat that highlighted Larry Johnson‘s four-point play off an Antonio Davis foul.
They also made their first NBA Finals appearance in their 24th year of existence in the league.
The Pacers took on Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 11, 2020
Shaq picked up the slack for a hobbling Bryant who had a sore ankle during the Finals.
O’Neal averaged 38 points and 16.7 rebounds per game on his way to earning 2000 NBA Finals MVP honors.
Although Smits was three inches taller, Shaq’s heft and strength in the low post were simply too much for him to handle.
For their part, Miller and Rose averaged a combined 47 points per game in the Finals.
Croshere stepped up big time and averaged 15.2 points off the bench for Indy.
Alas, their efforts weren’t enough to prevent L.A. from winning its 12th NBA title and first of three consecutive championships.
After their 2000 NBA Finals defeat, the Pacers blew up their core nucleus.
First, head coach Larry Bird stepped down after the Finals series loss to Los Angeles.
Smits retired after 12 NBA seasons due to nagging foot injuries.
On the other hand, Jackson bolted for the Toronto Raptors in free agency and joined his former Pacers teammate Antonio Davis north of the border.
The Pacers then traded Dale Davis to the Portland Trail Blazers for youngster Jermaine O’Neal in the offseason.
Mullin returned to Golden State in 2000-01 to finish off his legendary 17-year NBA career.
The Pacers haven’t returned to the NBA Finals since that memorable 1999-00 campaign.
They almost made it when they won an incredible 61 games in 2003-04.
Unfortunately, they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games.
Nonetheless, that 1999-00 Indiana Pacers team will forever live on in the hearts of Blue and Gold fans everywhere.