Things change quickly in sports. Yesterday's idols are today's villains, and vice-versa.
Victor Oladipo is the Pacers' latest example. Remember how popular he was in the 2017-18 season, when he averaged 23.1 points and was an all-star and a first-team all-defense selection? Having come to the Pacers in the trade that sent Paul George - another hero-to-villain flip - he won over the fans by hitting clutch shots early in the season and celebrating by pointing downward to silently proclaim, "This is my city!"
He remained popular through his two major leg injuries, evoking deserved sympathy from the fanbase, many of whom wore his No. 4 jersey to games. It was by far the most popular jersey in Bankers Life Fieldhouse through the pre-pandemic 2019=20 season.
This clip is from Oladipo's dramatic return on Jan. 29, 2020, when he made his much-hyped season debut against Chicago. He received a standing ovation when he checked into the game midway through the first quarter. He didn't shoot well in his limited playing time, but capped it off by hitting a long three-pointer to force overtime.
At this moment, it seemed his run with the Pacers would last for years to come. It didn't. He fell out of favor when he said he wasn't going to play in the bubble in Orlando, then did, and then reportedly (but not necessarily accurately) asked for a trade.
He began the 2020-21 season with the Pacers and played well in most games, but was traded to Houston in a four-way deal that brought Caris LeVert to the Pacers. LeVert isn't as good as Oladipo, but it was a deal the Pacers couldn't pass up given Oladipo's age, injury history and impending free agency.
He'll always have this moment, however.