by Kent Sterling
The newest Indiana Pacer is a thoughtful guy who appreciates the opportunity that he’s earned to be a significant contributor for a young team hunting a championship, and he has stated his intent to wear the number 22 for his late brother.
Vincent Alphaquan died six weeks after being hit by a drunk driver a couple of blocks from his home in Newark in 1997. Vincent wasn’t just Copeland’s brother – he was a mentor. At 22, he was dead, but the dream he instilled in his little brother lived for a long time before it was realized.
Every great story of will triumphing seems to have a change agent that fills the hero with the resolve needed to overcome adversity, which in this case included years and years in the NBDL, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Spain.
Last year, at age 28, he was invited to camp with the Knicks, and made the team as the 15th man. Some would have been satisfied with a dream realized, but Copeland kept grinding and earned a spot in the rotation, which led to starts in April, which led to important productive minutes against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Every time #14 with the dreads reported, Pacers fans winced. The guy could shoot, and by the end of the series, Indiana knew his name. And they knew he could shoot it.
As a result, Copeland became a free agent target of Pacers President Larry Bird, who signed him to a contract guaranteeing his $6 million over the next two years.
Indiana loves only one thing more than a story about a guy who overcomes adversity, and that’s a guy who can flat shoot the basketball. That means Pacers fans are going to love seeing #22 come into the game.
And they are going to know why he’s wearing that number – for a brother who died at that age, but not before making an impact on a boy who waited six years longer than most to see his dream come true.