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December 13, 2017

W. Quinn Buckner

Rick Fuson

Joe Hogsett

Eric Holcomb

Kevin Pritchard

Adam Silver

QUINN BUCKNER: Good afternoon. How are you this afternoon? Welcome to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home of the Indiana Pacers. I'm Quinn Buckner, TV analyst for the Pacers, and today we're here to share some exciting news that involves the NBA, the Pacers and the entire local community.

Indianapolis has played host to some of the most prestigious sporting events in America. Of course, there is the annual Indianapolis 500. It seems like you can't go anywhere in the city without running into an IndyCar. Even Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

In recent years, this proud city has had the Final Four for the men and the women. Here in Indianapolis, we've had the Super Bowl. Today, we focus on the National Basketball Association. We're honored today to be joined by some very special guests, and it's time to meet them right now.

First, he's the President and Chief Operating Officer of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, Rick Fuson.

Our next guest, President of Basketball for the Pacers, Kevin Pritchard. Now, please welcome the Mayor of the great City of Indianapolis, Mayor Joe Hogsett. And joining us today is the Governor of the great state of Indiana, Eric Holcomb. He is the owner of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Herb Simon. And finally, the gentleman who joined the NBA back in 1992, and now in his fifth season as the Commissioner, here to make today's official announcement, please welcome Adam Silver.

ADAM SILVER: Thank you very much, Quinn. I thought this was supposed to be a secret. But it is my pleasure to announce officially that the 2021 NBA All-Star Game will take place here at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

A few thank-yous are in order. Governor Holcomb, thank you very much for the support of you, your staff and the entire state. We're looking forward to being here.

Of course, Mayor Hogsett, thank you. Again, your city has been terrific to work with. We do this all over the country, and the reception has been fantastic.

From the Pacers’ organization, let me begin with Herb Simon. Herb is the longest-standing owner in the NBA. He's not the oldest owner in the NBA, but the longest-standing owner. And Herb became the owner with his brother Melvin in 1983, and shortly after we had our 35th NBA All Star Game here in Indiana. That was in 1985, so more than 30 years ago.

Interestingly enough, when we come back in 2021, it will be our 70th All-Star Game in the history of the league. We didn't exactly plan it that way, but thank you very much.

Kevin Pritchard, the new President of Basketball Operations here at the Pacers, you're new in that job, but you've done everything in this league. You've played, you've coached, general-managed. And now as the President, thank you very much for working with us on this.

Of course, Rick Fuson, who runs one of the great operations in all the league, as the President of Business Operations here, and who runs this building. Thank you, again, for your work. Jim Morris, the Vice Chair, who is a legendary host of all of us whenever we're here. If you have never been to one of his dinner parties, I highly recommend them. We're doing that later tonight. So thank you, Jim, we really appreciate that.

Just a few more things from me. A lot has changed since we were last here for an NBA All-Star Game in the 1980s. Then, it really was the NBA All-Star Game. It was an event that took place one day or a portion of one day, and it was one game. It then extended to All-Star weekend over the years where we, of course, added those additional contests, the three-point shot, slam dunk and those other events.

But what it's become now, modern era, it's truly an All-Star week of activities. That's where we look forward to working with the city and the state and the organization. There will be activities throughout the community. We saw a presentation this afternoon from Rick and Kevin and their staff on how you intend to sort of reinterpret Indianapolis, which is truly the heartland of basketball here in Indiana.

I think in terms of if cities and states have brands, part of the brand of this city and state is the sport of basketball. This is a game and a series of activities that will be televised. If there is still such a thing as television in 2021, technology is changing quickly, but somehow it will be transmitted to over 215 countries and territories. So there is no doubt for that week in February in 2021, the epicenter of basketball in the world will be here in Indiana.

With that, I want to thank all of you very much for your support. I'll be here lots of times between now and 2021, but I look forward to seeing you all then as well.

QUINN BUCKNER: Thank you very much, Commissioner Silver. No one is more excited about today's news than our next guest, who, along with his late brother Melvin, purchased the Pacers in 1983 to ensure that they stay here in Indianapolis. Let's hear from the owner, Mr. Herb Simon.

HERB SIMON: How do you do. It's always an honor to have the Commissioner, one of the greatest commissioners of all time, visit our city. So anytime he comes here, it's a great day. But when he comes here and gives us an All-Star Game, that's a really great day. Thank you very much, very much.

I remember that. I was still here in 1985, right. It was really not a big deal. They gave it to us. We didn't have to beg them. Now it's become such an important thing, we really had to beg them to get this.

Last All-Star Game I took one of my sons to New Orleans. The difference between 1985 and the week they put on now is so incredible, so professional, so entertaining, that you're all in for a great, great week when we bring the NBA All-Star Game here. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm sure you'll all enjoy it. So thank you very much. Thank you.

QUINN BUCKNER: Our next speaker is the only person who can possibly boast about making a basket in 92 counties. Now that had to be quite a feat, I might add. How many shots did it take you? Ninety-two, got it. More importantly, he is the 51st Governor of the state of Indiana, please welcome Eric Holcomb.

ERIC HOLCOMB: Wow, what an exciting day. Thank you, Quinn. It's not every day I get to be introduced by an Indiana legend and icon. I feel like I should be the one who is introducing him.

Commissioner Silver, we're so glad you're here. We're so glad you're back in Indiana again. Thank you for choosing Indianapolis as the host city for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. As you know and you alluded to, basketball truly is and really is part of our DNA here in the Hoosier State. I don't know of any other governor in the country that can boast that they had a basketball court at their residence. I have a full court at my address, and it is because we do grow basketball here in the state of Indiana.

As you said, it's not just our brand or our profile, but it may be, in fact, our greatest state export, as evidenced by Larry Bird. So the word is out and about, from the Pacers to the Fever, to our historic college programs at Indiana University and Purdue, and Notre Dame, Butler, ISU, IUPUI, Hanover College's run this last year, I might add, and the list just goes on and on and on to our famous high school boys and girls championship games.

Basketball here is something that literally movies are made about. And just admit it, you've all seen "Hoosiers" a thousand times and so has everyone else around the world. So 2021 is really setting up to be a real extravaganza. A two-month-long celebration of basketball, I just can't think of anything that gets better than that.

We'll kick things off with the NBA All-Star Game, and then we'll have our high school boys and girls championship games a few days after that. Then we'll have the Big Ten women's basketball tournament, and that will be followed by the NCAA men's Final Four. Of course, that will be followed by a deep run from the Pacers, and another successful Fever season. So to all of you outside of Indiana, I would just recommend right now go online and book your hotel and your flights for that entire two months.

It takes a lot of teamwork, I get it. It takes a lot of teamwork to become an NBA champion. It also takes a lot of teamwork to host world-class events like this. I just want to put a shout-out right now to everyone that made this a happen, and that will make it happen. From the Pacers, obviously, to Visit Indy, to Downtown Indy and, most importantly, those army of volunteers that do this time and time again that prove we are the very best at exporting our Hoosier hospitality.

So, again, thank you, Commissioner Silver. Congratulations to the Simons, to the entire Pacers Sports & Entertainment team. I cannot wait for the 2021 All-Star Game tip-off. The ball is in our court. Thank you all very much.

QUINN BUCKNER: Thank you very much. Now please welcome to the podium a man whose past roles include Secretary of State, U.S. Attorney for the State of Indiana and he is now the 49th Mayor of the city of Indianapolis, Mr. Joe Hogsett.

JOE HOGSETT: Good afternoon. When I was told that Quinn Buckner would be introducing the Mayor of Indianapolis, I thought I'd have the afternoon off. Because from what I've been hearing, there is a new mayor in town and his name is Victor Oladipo. I'm only kidding, I hope. It's a great day to be with all of you as we celebrate the All-Star Game coming to Indianapolis in 2021.

And I would like to thank the Commissioner for joining us today, to Herb, a friend of many years, and to my friend and colleague Governor Holcomb. You know, like many Hoosier youngsters, I grew up with my own dreams of bringing the ball up the court. But for some reason that I still don't understand, Coach Bob Knight thought that Buckner was better than me. I don't know, Quinn. Maybe we'll have to play one-on-one.

So while fate took me a different route, there is nothing I enjoy more than being Indianapolis' biggest cheerleader. We sure do have a lot to look forward to, much because ever since our community came together 30 years ago and orchestrated the Pan-American Games, Indianapolis has been the epicenter for spectacle. And we're ready to once again solidify that status as the coming years read like a super fan's wish list.

The Big Ten football championship through 2021, return of the Big Ten men's basketball tournament in 2020. The NCAA Men's Final Four in 2021. The College Football Playoff championship in 2022, and now we have one more to add to that list, 2021, when our great city hosts the NBA All-Star Game. Now that is, indeed, an All-Star lineup. One that will not only entertain fans around the world but will also significantly uplift the city of Indianapolis as the All-Star Game will bring with it an economic impact of more than $100 million for our community. That's a lot of money.

That's why this is more than just good news to sports fans. Just as the players display their talents, Indianapolis will be ready to showcase our second-to-none hospitality, our venues and our amenities, to the entire world yet again. Indeed, the energy here this afternoon is only a taste of what's to come, as we get ready to welcome many of the world's finest athletes to the crossroads of America. I'm so proud. And Commissioner, should you need a last-minute substitution for the All-Star Game, it's never too late to fulfill this Hoosier's dreams. Thank you for being here. It's a great day for this great city.

QUINN BUCKNER: I don't think the Commissioner's going to quite get to you on that spot you're looking for. Just thought I'd let you know that. Our next speaker is a Bloomington, Indiana, native. After a successful front-office career with the Portland Trail Blazers, he came home and joined the Pacers' organization in 2011. He has served as the team's Director of Player Personnel and General Manager. He is now the President of Basketball Operations. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Kevin Pritchard.

KEVIN PRITCHARD: Well, it's really a great honor to be in front of everybody. Commissioner, thank you so much.

Governor, it's great to have you here. Mayor, it's been fun doing a few of these together with you, getting to know you.

I'm going to give you a little different perspective. I'm a native Hoosier. I remember the All-Star Game back in 1985. I remember the epic dunk contest between Dominique [Wilkins] and Michael Jordan. But I want to know if you guys remember, there was an Indiana [Pacer] who was in that dunk contest [Terence Stansbury] that did a dunk called the Statue of Liberty. Anybody remember that? Most amazing dunk I've seen in my life. And every Indiana Hoosier under 15 went home and tried to do that same dunk on an 8-foot goal, and I still couldn't. So it was a great dunk contest. It was epic.

I remember that Ralph Sampson was the MVP of that All-Star Game. I think there is somebody in the front row [Larry Bird] that should have gotten it. I think he's still a little awkward about that and is mad at the Commissioner.

I do want to thank, because I get this mental image in my mind right now, Larry Bird, IndyCar, 5th Avenue. Sometimes I go to bed at night, and that's still in my mind. But I know, Commissioner, that had a big impact because he is Indiana basketball. He lives and breathes it, and it is bone-marrow deep for him, and that's what we love.

The state of Indiana loves basketball. We love Indiana. So we're so proud to have it, and we are going to put on a great show for you. Thank you so much.

QUINN BUCKNER: Thank you very much, Kevin. Now if anyone knows how to bring a major sporting event to Indianapolis, and what it means to this city, it is our final speaker of the day. I happened to play football with him, by the way. He's a member of the Pacers' organization since 1984. He's the President and Chief Operating Officer for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Mr. Rick Fuson.

RICK FUSON: Let me tell you about Quinn. I worked for Herb for almost 35 years, but I've known Quinn for over 40 because we did play football at IU together. He was a star and I was a walk-on, but he's made us so proud over the years. To be working side-by-side with him so many years later is really an honor.

I am the last speaker, so I'm kind of going to be maybe like they have at the Academy Awards. Somebody gets up and, you know, wants to thank everybody in the world, and all of a sudden the music starts playing and they hook you. I'm hoping since I run the building they won't hook me with the music. But I've got a lot to say and a lot of people to thank.

I want to start with the Commissioner. Herb talked about begging him. It's true. Every time I saw the Commissioner at every meeting we went to, I was right there like a little puppy: Commissioner, we really want to have it here. We really want to to have it here. So I can't thank you enough.

But he has a staff that is amazing. We talk to many of them almost every day. Mike Bass is here, and Kelly Flatow. Kelly Flatow has worked with us all along the way. When we went to London, she tried to help guide us to do the right things related to the bid. So we're very grateful.

Peter Fink and Barbara DeCristofaro and Kenny Payne and Britt Sellers and Rick Buchannan. The last two are the lawyers. So we were still dealing with them as late as yesterday, but it got all worked out.

To Herb Simon, who has let me work for him for all that time, I had the great honor of being the operational person for the All-Star Game in 1985 for the Pacers. To be able to bookend part of my life, to be able to serve through the All-Star Game in 2021, is really an honor to me. I thank you for all you've done for the city and for all of us as employees and for giving us this opportunity. So I'd like for everyone to give Herb one more round of applause.

You know, we started talking about this over two years ago. Herb said maybe it's time that we get in it. We had a few times over the years where we said, Oh, you know, we've got a lot of other things to do, Herb. So we finally sat together and said, Yeah, it's time to do it. Let's go after it, and we did.

It's been almost a year since we've been working on this bid. As you well know, I think Indianapolis does things the right way. We just don't do things independently. We call our friends and call all those people we know can help put on a great event for Indiana and Indianapolis, and that's what happened here.

I just want to name a number of those people who nine months ago or so got in the room and said, Yes, we can do this. We can find a way to do this, and will help in any way they can.

So let me start with the CIB. Kobi Wright, Barney Levengood and Melina Kennedy. I'm so grateful to the CIB, who was in that room and helped us so very much. We appreciate it. Thank you. The folks from Visit Indy, Leonard Hoops, Schnette Queisser, Jeff Robinson and Susie Townsend. An unbelievable group who pushed this city across this world. Named the number one Convention Center by USA Today. I mean, it's unbelievable. Who thought Indianapolis would be the number one Convention Center and city any place in this country? Congratulations and we thank you.

To my friends at Indiana Sports Corporation, Ryan Vaughn and Susan Baughman. These folks have put on so many events. We work with them on the Big Ten and so many other things. I'm very grateful to you. Susan Baughman has probably done more bids in this city than anybody. So we thank you very much for all you do for us.

Mr. Governor, you have a wonderful staff. I know you know. Great people who came together to help us. Our friend Earl Goode and Jim Schellinger and Jane Jankowski who answered the call and said, Yes, we'll support this, and we'll do what we can to support you. We thank those friends from the state of Indiana.

Mr. Mayor, likewise, you have a great staff as you well know, and your Chief of Staff Thomas Cook was there for every meeting to try to help us go through whatever permits we needed and the things we needed to do. So to you, and to Thomas and the other folks on your staff, we're very grateful to the city of Indianapolis.

You know, it's amazing how many people have to help us. But I want to personally thank Jim Irsay and Pete Ward and the whole Colts organization, because we couldn't do this at Lucas Oil Stadium without their help. So, please, round of applause for our Indianapolis Colts.

It's been amazing the response we got from the hotels, and the hoteliers here, we're grateful to you. The restaurants who have already committed their space, and the other venues in town that we're holding who all committed to say, Yes, we'll hold our space for official events for the NBA All-Star Game.

So for all our partners, hotels, venues, restaurants, thank you all very much. We certainly couldn't do this without our Pacers Sports & Entertainment staff. Mariah Bird, who is here, she's done a great job. Just a wonderful job from the time we did the bid all the way through today, and will be here and hopefully helping us make this the best place for anything we've ever done NBA All-Star-wise. John Ball, Todd Taylor, Bill Benner, Frank Pulice, Quinn Buckner, who helped us with the bid as well. And this last young lady who is our Senior Vice President of Facilities, Mel Raines. I'd ask her to stand. She will serve as the President of the Local Organizing Committee.

I'd also like to thank Conrad Piccirillo and Terry Lingner. These two young men are unbelievably creative souls. They help us all the time with what you see inside before a Pacers game and so many other things around the city. I know they worked on the Super Bowl. They've worked on so many other events, and they've helped us put this bid together. When we did the bid, this is the bid package we put together, flanked by the All-Star Game piece from 1985. But we went up there and they did some virtual reality. They did a lot of different things that really wowed some people. So we thank you.

I know Kevin Pritchard thanked Larry Bird. But we were in a meeting one day and said, How are we going to deliver that bid? And I said, I'd really like for Larry, and he was sitting at the table, and I said I'd like for Larry to deliver it in New York in an IndyCar. Herb looked at me like, I can't even believe you asked that. But Larry said, OK.

We took him out to the Speedway, and he got in that car and says, Yeah, I can do it. He was a little afraid of the brakes. We were hoping to get it done. But unbelievable for him to roll up at the NBA office. So, Larry, thank you for making this happen. Thank you.

As we go forward, there are a lot of years, but the planning starts today. So I want to announce four people who I'm very proud will serve with us as co-chairs for our Local Organizing Committee. First, on my left, please stand, Aasif Bade, the President of Ambrose Properties.

Our friend will be a Hall of Famer, she's the Director of Player Programs and Franchise Development and founder of Catch the Stars Foundation, our friend, Tamika Catchings.

This next young lady used to be a member of the Pacers' staff. She worked hard. It's been a while. But our friend, our civic leader and philanthropist, and our great friend, Cindy Simon Skjodt.

Last but not least, the man, Rafael Sanchez. He's the President and CEO of Indianapolis Power and Light. He keeps us warm, keeps our lights on.

This will be a wonderful group. It's a dream team for me to be able to have these folks who will help run this every day, and we'll do a lot of things.

One thing we promise is that we're going to do our best to redefine the All-Star Game. We know we have a lot of things to do because the NBA wants us to do them. But we want to redefine it for future host cities, so they'll remember that Indianapolis did this. So they'll have to do this better than we did. But we'll see.

Finally, I've had the fortune, as we've said, to be part of this team and this league for nearly 35 years. It continues to amaze me how we all come together in times of need. And because we have friends who can help in times of need, we're here today to celebrate Herb's great friend Stephen Berman.

Stephen, if you'll stand, please. He's the CEO of JAKKS Pacific Toys. We'll celebrate Stephen tonight, because for the ninth year in a row, he has supplied us with thousands of toys that we have been able to distribute throughout cities in Indiana to children who otherwise would not have them, working with the Indiana National Guard in those cities that we've gone to. So, Stephen, we're very grateful.

But he took it one more step this year. We're close teams, and we have three brethren teams in the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets who all suffered in their communities this year, obviously, great tragedy because of the hurricanes. Stephen said to us one day as Herb and I were talking on the phone, he said, You know, I'd like to give toys to those three teams as well, and he did that.

So, because of the relationship with Herb, because of the relationship with the NBA, we were able to also serve through those teams underprivileged kids and kids who really needed it in other cities. So, Stephen, thank you very much.

We're grateful to all of you for coming out today. We look forward to seeing you at all the Pacers games between now and 2021. We'll sell you a four-year ticket, no problem at all. We look forward to the game tonight and thank you all very, very much.

QUINN BUCKNER: That wraps up today's special announcement on the NBA All-Star 2021. I'd like to thank all of our special guests along with everyone in the audience here today, those joining us on NBA TV and Fox Sports Indiana, as well as those watching live and live streamed on NBA.com, the NBA App, Pacers.com, the NBA and Pacers FaceTime Live -- I love it, I love it.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this exciting announcement on social media using #IndyAllStar2021. Again, that's #IndyAllStar2021. Anyone interested in learning about Indianapolis All-Star Game 2021, including volunteer opportunities, can visit Pacers.com/All-Star 2021. That will do it from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I'm Quinn Buckner, so long from Indianapolis.

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