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The Indiana Pacers are a professional basketball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are members of the Central Division in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Pacers were first established in 1967 as members of the American Basketball Association (ABA) and became members of the NBA in 1976 as a result of the ABA-NBA merger. They play their home games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The team is named after Indiana's history with harness racing pacers as well as the Indianapolis 500's pace cars.
The Pacers have won three championships, all in the ABA. The Pacers were Eastern Conference champions in 2000. The team has won eight division titles. Five Hall of Fame players - Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin, Alex English, Mel Daniels, and Roger Brown - played with the Pacers for multiple seasons. Early in the Pacers' second season, former Indiana Hoosiers standout Bob "Slick" Leonard became the team's head coach, replacing Larry Staverman. Leonard quickly turned the Pacers into a juggernaut. His teams were buoyed by the great play of superstars such as Mel Daniels, George McGinnis, Bob Netolicky, Rick Mount and Roger Brown. The Pacers were – and ended – as the most successful team in ABA history, winning three ABA Championships in four years. In all, they appeared in the ABA Finals five times in the league's nine-year history: a feat that was never bettered by any other ABA franchise.
The league charged a $3.2 million entry fee for each former ABA team. Since the NBA would only agree to accept four ABA teams in the ABA-NBA merger, the Pacers and the three other surviving ABA teams also had to compensate the two remaining ABA franchises which were not a part of the merger, the Spirits of St. Louis and Kentucky Colonels. As a result of the merger, the four teams dealt with financial troubles. Additionally, the Pacers had some financial troubles which dated back to their waning days in the ABA; they had begun selling off some of their star players in the last ABA season.