Pacers impressed by turnout for FanJam 2017; Anigbogu wins Rookie Show

Thousands of fans packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse on a rainy, cool day in Indianapolis on Sunday. The Colts were off, and by design, the Pacers could reintroduce themselves to fans in Central Indiana.

At their annual FanJam, free for all, fans had the chance to see the new-look Pacers in action — along with the fresh paint job on the court, new lighting system … and enjoy the little things like photos with the Pacemates and team broadcasters, face painting, and other family activities.

“I got to say, since I’ve been here my past three years, this is the best crowd we’ve had,” Myles Turner told the estimated crowd of about 8,000.

I’m there every year and this year’s group of fans was surprisingly strong.

Surprising because they lack a star. Surprising because outside expectations are low. Surprising because they are just six players back from last season.

But for three hours on Sunday afternoon, thousands claimed their free “We Grow Basketball Here” t-shirt, free hot dog, soda, and bag of chips, and took their first glance at this new era of Pacers basketball.

“It’s probably one of the largest crowds that I’ve seen in the last few years,” said head coach Nate McMillan, who has coached here since 2013. “[It was] an opportunity for some of our fans to see our guys for the first time. Another fun day for our guys.”

The team scrimmage is always the highlight. No defense is truly played — sorry, Dan Burke — and it has more of an All-Star game feel to it than even a preseason game. It’s about having a good time and entertaining the fans. It’s also the last lighthearted moment before the team zeros in on what it needs to do for the 2017-18 season, which tips off on Wednesday.

Then, there’s the rookie show. Rookies in the locker room, including staff members, had to sing a song for fans that filled the lower and club levels. Oh, and this year Myles Turner provided the outfits.

Glenn Robinson III (left ankle surgery) and Al Jefferson (personal reasons) were the only two players not in attendance. But Robinson III Facetimed with Lance Stephenson, which was then shown on the giant video board overhead.

Anigbogu, the Pacers’ second-round pick (47) earn the loudest applause for his singing of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.” [Click here to hear Anigbogu pronounce his last name. You’re welcome.]

“It’s just amazing how, even here at a professional level, basketball in Indiana is on another spectrum of it’s own,” said IU product Victor Oladipo. “It’s just amazing how much they care about the game here.”

Coach McMillan, Oladipo, and Leaf on FanJam:

T.J. Leaf:

Ike Anigbogu, the winner:

Edmond Sumner:

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