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Goodbye, Danny Granger. Hello, Nick Goepper.
The coming and going of two sports stars, a slopestyle-skiing Olympic medalist and an NBA pro, respectively.
With Thursday’s trade between the Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers, the City of Brotherly Love gets a player that 2014 All-Star Paul George calls his big brother. Danny Granger leaves Indiana after nine seasons, but he takes more than just his stat line with him. Through the good and the bad over the years, Granger has been, arguably, the heart and soul of the Pacers. He was an NBA All-Star in the 2008-09 season, led the team in scoring for five consecutive seasons, and became a mentor and friend to relative upstarts like George and Roy Hibbert, who have been vital to the Pacers more recently.
Even though we’re sad to see Danny go, the Pacers admittedly get a good return. Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen come to the Circle City from the Sixers. Allen, a 6-foot-9 power forward, will give the Pacers more depth with a long look at keeping LeBron James away from the rim in the playoffs. The 6-foot-7 small forward/guard Turner’s 17 points-per-game average didn’t matter much for Philly’s futile season but could be crucial to a Pacers title run—and his arrival helps locals cope with the slightly disturbing thought that Indiana might not be able to afford Lance Stephenson next season.
Even as Granger descends from the stage, taking his station in Indiana athletic history, another star finds himself in a prime position on a podium faraway, in Sochi, Russia. Lawrenceburg’s Nick Goepper returns stateside fresh off a bronze medal–earning performance in slopestyle skiing at the Winter Olympics. As a unit, he and his teammates swept the event's medals for Team USA. Goepper appears here on last night's Late Show With David Letterman with Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy, who won gold and silver medals, respectively:
Their showing in Sochi was inspiring enough—in a startlingly fast fashion—to land their faces on boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Says Kenworthy, “They’re all I eat now.”
Thus, as the 30-year-old Granger heads east to Philly, the Hoosier-bred Goepper, just 19 years young, is clearly ready to stake out his space in this state's sports lore.