The Pacers picked eleventh that year. For a basketball team, that's some prime speculative real estate to be giving up for someone who'd spent his college years playing within a highly mechanized system, seldom responsible for creating his own shots off the dribble. Still, when you consider how highly esteemed Alford was, how highly localized his heroism, it's easy to understand why Pacers fans might have been outraged by their selection. Race, too, must have been a big source of the outrage, but this is about much more than race.
So I went to Alford's memoir, Playing for Knight (1989), to see what Alford himself had to say about all this. To hear Alford tell it, he wasn't nearly as upset about being passed up by the Pacers as he was by the Pacers denigrating his worth in the press: everything from his smallness to his slowness to his defensive ineptitude, in addition to his limited offensive repertoire. But there's a reason the Pacers had motive for doing that, and it's a motive Alford understands, even if he doesn't at all endorse their succumbing to it:
The Pacers were on the spot. They had the eleventh pick in the first round, and there was pressure from Hoosier fans to pick me, the local hero. To justify skipping me, the Pacers apparently thought they had to downgrade me publicly. There are no hard feeling today, but I was very unhappy at the time and made some very un-Alford-like comments. (I said I had a Clint Eastwood "hit list" of people I would prove wrong!)That list was safe in his back pocket. The only people Alford proved wrong, in his pro career, were those who had gone bloodthirsty when the Pacers didn't draft him.