Did ESPN’s Colin Cowherd really just call Indiana Pacers fans racist?

ESPN SportsNation hosts Colin Cowherd (left) and Michelle Beadle during the Madden 13 cover unveiling on the set of SportsNation at Times Square. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Cowherd, television host of ESPN’s SportsNation and radio host of The Herd, blamed the poor attendance at Indiana Pacers basketball games on a racist culture in the Hoosier State.

“You’re holding an organization to a standard that happens because of race,” he said recently on his nationally broadcast show. “There’s no other explanation why people don’t go to Pacers games.”

Before we take a few grand moments to absolutely shred Mr. Cowherd’s commentary, let us first get to know the man behind the quote first.

In 2005, Sports Illustrated named Cowherd the radio personality of the year. He was named the state of Nevada’s top sportscaster five times, and in 2012 he was rated the nation’s best pundit by Pundit Tracker.

The dude is no slouch.

However, in this case, the usually erudite Cowherd should fess up to either his total ignorance on the subject of Indiana basketball or his pandering for on-air attention.

We are sort of hoping it was the latter. There has been no shortage of shock-radio personalities out there who have proven they will say and do anything to get people to listen. Conservatives hate Howard Stern, liberals hate Rush Limbaugh, but the fact of the matter is that both will always have a home on the radio because both enjoy high ratings.

Was Cowherd looking for some shock value here?

The Pacers enjoyed one of the most raucous home crowds on Earth back in the days of Reggie Miller’s epic battles with Michael Jordan of the Bulls and John Starks of the Knicks. Jermaine O’Neal became a superstar center in Indiana.

Heck, this fan base even rallied around Ron Artest after the Malace in the Palace — if that isn’t true fan loyalty, not to mention the furthest thing from racism out there, then we don’t know what is.

The Pacers were decent last year, but stunk up the court for the five years previously. In these tough economic times, who would spend the extra thousands of dollars on season tickets to watch a subpar team play? Especially when you can spend 500 bucks on a slick high-def TV and enjoy the games from home, eating reasonably priced snacks and staying away from the $9 beers?

Indiana’s not racist. Cowherd just felt the need to put a little word vomit out into the public sphere, simple as that.


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