Since the Pacers won last night, we should all prepare for a great deal of talk about the current losing streak the Pacers have going for them down in Atlanta. NBA analysts on ESPN and FSN and everywhere else will bring it up each time they talk about the game. The news paper and radio will ask the players about it leading up to the game. All we are going to hear about for the next 36 hours or so is the losing streak the Pacers have going on down there. Talk about how to "break the streak", talk about what they need to do differently, talk about why they just can't seem to win down there, talk, talk and more talk. For any one who has played a sports, you know that thinking about struggles, or what can go wrong, or a curse or a streak is the worst thing you can do. Quoting 'Bull Durham' "Don't think, it's bad for the ball club". And it's true, the worst thing a player can do is acknowlege a slump, or a streak or anything like that, because it admits he's thinking about it. Now with Pacers, and it's only 13 games (mind you Hibbert is still seeing a psychologist about his struggles there). Think about how it is for the Cubs, or the Red Soxs (pre-2004). Fans almost make a point to tie everything that happens back to the curse. In the Cubs case, the last time they were in the playoffs, the manager brought an orthodox priest to the field to "cleanse" it, because, you know, that's not distracting. Or how about years before that, bringing a goat out on the field before a game... that helps the focus.
What does it take to really break a curse? You have to be dumb enough not to believe in it. We all want to blame someone or something when things start to go bad, it's natural. But when you are in a slump, or can't hit a shot, or can't get a break, you start to think about it. You start trying anything you can to make it go away. It starts to change the way you play... and here's the worst part... that is the last thing you want to do. You start trying to pull the ball at the plate when you are a natural opposite way hitter, you start to force shots when normally you pick and choose you places, you gamble a little bit more on a pass... and then it doesn't work... and the problem compounds itself. The elephant in the room just continues to get bigger, and bigger, until it's no longer something in your head, it has become a tangible thing. That's why I say, you have to be dumb enough not to buy into it. They guys who never go into streaks are the guys who just go out there and play. Something bad happens and they shrug their shoulders and try again next time, next year. They let the random chance in sports work itself out, rather than trying to fix it themselves.
So as you hear all the talk the next few days about the Pacers heading into Atlanta, don't contribute to it. Just hope and pray the Pacers come out and play like they do in Indy every night, or in pheonix or whereever the heck else that they don't struggle to get wins at... because that's all they need to do. Just go out and play like it anywhere else.
Have a great day,
-T.O. signing out