January 25, 2012
On Friday, Indiana Pacers mascot Boomer gained more notoriety than he bargained for by obliterating the backboard at an Indiana high school on the first dunk of one of his trademark halftime shows. While the incident briefly put New Palestine (Ind.) High in the national spotlight, it also created some unique problems for a high school athletic department. "Where exactly are we going to get the money to replace our backboard?" for instance.
The answer, it turns out, is from the Pacers themselves. As reported by the Greenfield Reporter, Fox Sports Midwest and WISH-TV, among other outlets, a delegation of Pacers front office employees traveled to the Hancock County school to meet with school officials and immediately offered to replace the school's broken backboard. The team also refunded Boomer's appearance fee and said that the two sides would continue working together in good faith.
That was made easier by the fact that New Palestine doesn't host another basketball game until Feb. 2. The stretch of road appearances is expected to give the Pacers more than enough time to have a permanent new backboard installed at the school. In the meantime, the team has provided a temporary replacement.
"Once everyone realized that no one was injured and the game could go on, everyone had a good time with it," Pacers spokesman Greg Schenkel told WISH-TV. "It's been a very friendly situation."
While the replacement backboard may have created some inconvenience for New Palestine officials, students at the school have been having a heck of a week. After enjoying Boomer's rather smashing appearance on Friday and hanging out with the mascot during the second half of New Palestine's 70-45 victory against Triton (Ind.) Central High, some 100 of them received free tickets to Tuesday night's game from Boomer himself.
According to WISH, the mascot's official Twitter account invited any New Palestine students to be his guests at the team's home game against the Magic, and more than 100 took him up on the offer (the Magic eventually won the game, 100-83, on the back of an impressive 24-point performance by Ryan Anderson).
"For me, I was like, 'That just didn't really happen,'" Cooper said. "I was stunned and shocked."
"It was one of those circumstances where it was unforeseeable that that was going to be the case. We have breakaway rims. [Boomer] just hit it perfectly, and it collapsed. Luckily, we had no injuries that were pressing. We did have a young lady get a scratch, but it was nothing more than a band-aid. That was it."