The Journey is the Reward

The last few weeks I’ve resumed my quest to add an autograph for each player to take the court in a Pacers uniform. I’m missing cards of many, many players and have quite a journey ahead of me, one that I very likely won’t ever complete. But it’s fun to search out those cards, research the players, and reminisce on certain Pacers squads.

The Pacers have several starters out due to injury, and are struggling as a result. One bright spot has been Edmond Sumner, a 4th year wing out of Xavier. Sumner’s journey to NBA starter began with a two-way contract after being drafted in the 2nd round by the Thunder and traded to the Pacers in 2017. He mainly played for G League Fort Wayne during his rookie year, and was in and out of the rotation until this season. Sumner is getting his chance to start for the Pacers, and taking advantage. He’s scored in double figures in 4 of the last 5 games, and is a fun player to watch. He has great quickness and has been very efficient, shooting over 50% from the floor.

As one of my first Pacers autograph pickups in years, I added a 2019-20 Donruss Signature Series autograph featuring Sumner. I love the blue border on this card. Blue borders almost always look great on Pacer cards. I’m also a fan of this grey uniform. Do I wish the signature was written out? Sure. But these are how his signed cards look. Hope Sumner continues to play well. The Pacers sure need the help as they push towards a likely play-in game.

Shifting gears to an NBA veteran of 12 years, George Hill ranks as one of my favorite all-time Pacers. I was a fan even from his time on the Spurs, and was excited when the Pacers traded for him on draft night (at the time I didn’t know who Kawhi Leonard was that the Pacers had traded to get him). I’ve posted some of my favorite George Hill cards in a post back in 2017.

Hill is a player who’s had quite an NBA journey. He’s played for 9 NBA teams and will have a chance to contribute to likely deep playoff run for the 76ers. There’s a reason contending teams want to sign or trade for George Hill. He’s a dependable, playoff tested veteran who is an excellent outside defender and is a deadly corner 3 pt shooter. At this point in his career he’s exactly what you want in a backup point guard. In my mind he’ll always be a Pacer.

And while I have a small collection of George Hill, including several autos, none of those are in a Pacers uniform, until now. This autograph is from 2012-13 Hoops. It’s hard to tell from the scan, but it is in fact a sticker auto. I was hopeful when I purchased that it would be on-card, but with a little more research I would have known otherwise. Regardless, a sharp card and I’m glad to add it to my collection.

While I’m on the topic of journeys, I want to document a card I’ll be sending on a journey through the mail, with hopes of getting back signed. I checked in on sportscollectors.net to see if any former Pacers happened to have signed recently, and Bob Arnzen, who I briefly mentioned in my first post in a series on Pacers autographs, showed up on that list. I promptly went and picked up a 1971-72 Topps card featuring Arnzen, and I’ll be sending it out soon.

Looking back on my collecting history, and with the hobby landscape changing so much in the past year or so, I’m realizing that the fun in chasing that next card, the stories around acquiring certain cards, and the interactions with collectors along the way are what make the journey the reward.

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