The Pacers are on a roll. They're on top in the woeful Eastern Conference of the NBA and their head coach Frank Vogel will be helming the Eastern squad in the league's All-Star game by virtue of the Pacers' excellent record.
Pacers guard George Hill is a hometown kid. The Broad Ripple high school grad attended IUPUI before being picked up by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Now a Pacer, Hill is taking a stab at radio: He joins 1260 WNDE's Jake Query and Derek Schultz for a two-hour evening roundtable on some Wednesdays.
I caught up with Hill during a live broadcast at Kilroy's, just a few steps away from his old school. Despite a steady snow, the bar was full of fans who'd turned out to hear Hill talk with Query and Schultz about the Pacers' season, their head coach and Hill's other true passion: fishing.
NUVO: Listening to you guys I'm not sure if this is a basketball show or a fishing show. What's the biggest fish you've ever caught?
George Hill: A 75-pound amberjack.
NUVO: You don't like fishing in the White River, do you?
Hill: No, I don't like fishing in that body of water. I've never heard good things about the White River ... you don't know what you're going to hook down there.
NUVO: You went to San Antonio, now you're back in Indy — what's your favorite fishing hole?
Hill: Right now I'm a big lover of deep-sea fishing. My girlfriend's from South Padre Island, so when I'm down there in the summer I go deep-sea fishing a lot.
NUVO: What's your "Moby Dick" — what do you really want to hook?
Hill: I want to catch a marlin. Either a marlin or just a big, big tuna.
NUVO: You're interested in opening a bait shop at some point? Is that correct?
Hill: Definitely so. This summer, I'm thinking about opening my own bait shop, just looking for a great name and a great location right now.
NUVO: Query and Schultz have pitched you a couple of names. Any favorites?
Hill: I've seen "Shake 'n' Bake," I've seen "Hill and Reels," "Master Baiters" ... it's pretty funny what people come up with.
NUVO: It seems like no one in this particular Pacers locker room takes anything seriously — you guys seem to be having a really good time, as evidenced by Lance Stephenson's Youtube video attempt to get All-Star votes.
(Editor's note: Take a one-minute break from reading this right now and take a look at Stephenson's video. We'll wait.)
Hill: There's a time to be serious, and I think when we're on the court, we're a very serious team, very smash-mouth, physical, in-your-face, don't-give-you-nothin' team, but off the court, you see our personality. [We] don't take anything personal or serious.
NUVO: That "smash-mouth" approach is something that Vogel preaches. You were saying on-air that the defense of this team really seems to feed the offense when you guys are on the floor.
Hill: Definitely so. We always try to be the team that hits first. I feel like we don't want be in a fight where we get hit first and get pushed back on our heels. We try to do the hitting first, to get you on your heels, and that creates great opportunities on the offensive end for us.
NUVO: Frank Vogel's going to be the coach of the Eastern Conference NBA All-Star Team. Are the guys going to give him crap about that? Is that the kind of relationship you have with Coach?
Hill: Pretty much. We told him he has to split the check with us. It's a great accomplishment for him and our whole team, but he has to split that money with us.
NUVO: Kidding aside, there's obviously a lot of mutual respect between Vogel and this team.
Hill: Vogel always goes to bat for us. Good or bad, he's always in your corner, always hopes that you do the best thing.
NUVO: What was a bigger thrill: getting drafted as high as you were, or coming back to Indy?
Hill: I don't know. Getting drafted to San Antonio was a great accomplishment ... to get to play for a coach like Greg Popovich, one of the best coaches in the history of the game and getting to play with teammates like Tim Duncan and Manu [Ginobili] and Tony [Parker] and all of them, but to get to come home to be with my family and friends — you have to wrap both of them up in a gift box.