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Home at Last: Pacer Jeff Teague’s “Dreams Come True” on Return to Indy

How does Jeff Teague want to be identified?

“Just a kid from Indianapolis,” he said today at a press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The 6’2″ point guard admitted that when he got the call from his agent that he’d been traded to the Pacers, he couldn’t believe it. He had always dreamed of playing in Indianapolis again, where he starred at Pike High School, but he thought he might someday come via free agency. It never crossed his mind that he would be traded, especially not home.

“I guess it just ran its course,” he said about his time with the Hawks. He said the trade felt almost bittersweet, as Atlanta was extremely welcoming for his first seven years in the NBA.

The three-team trade that brought Teague to Indiana moved another Indy native, George Hill, from the Pacers to the Utah Jazz. Teague said that, as one of Hill’s good friends, he would have enjoyed playing alongside him. If fact, Teague approached Hill when the latter was traded to the Pacers in 2011: Hill discussed the pressure of playing in his home state, but conceded that pressure follows wherever he plays.

Teague has always felt passionate about his hometown—and has the ink to prove it. He got a Colts tattoo on his left arm a few years ago, then added the Indianapolis skyline, the 317 area code, and I-465 to his Hoosier sleeve.

Teague loves his city and acknowledges the impact it made on who he is. It is his belief that Indianapolis is the best basketball city. Each driveway has a basketball court. Each city park has a kid playing the game.

“I’ve always embraced Indiana,” he said. “I know most people go visit Miami offseason, or go live in L.A. or wherever, but I come to Indiana.”

Now that the trade is official, Teague is excited about the opportunity to play alongside Paul George, C.J. Miles, and the rest of the players on the Pacers roster. But he knows there will be challenges in adjusting. He believes his biggest challenge coming into the season will be getting in rhythm with the rest of the team. Playing against the Pacers for seven years has familiarized him with each player’s capabilities, but as a point guard he will need time to adjust to what makes them comfortable—how to deliver the ball to they can be most effective.

Ultimately, Teague is optimistic about his future with the Pacers. “The sky’s the limit for us,” he said.

 

Since first joining Indianapolis Monthly in 2000, West has written about a wide range of subjects including crime, history, arts and entertainment, pop culture, politics, and food. His feature stories have twice been noted in the Best American Sports Writing anthology and have received top honors from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. “The Collapse,” West’s account of the 2011 Indiana State Fair tragedy, was a 2013 National City and Regional Magazine Awards finalist in the category of Best Reporting. He lives on the near-east side.
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