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August 07, 2014  |   By IMS

MotoGP Stars Take Their Shots at Banker Life Fieldhouse

Dani Pedrosa took a teammate’s pass and drove through the right side of the lane at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, laid it in righthanded and got a smattering of applause.

Not bad for a man who makes his living on a motorcycle.

Pedrosa was among a half-dozen MotoGP stars who spent an hour on Thursday afternoon at the downtown Indianapolis home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers as part of a MotoGP “cultural event.” At every stop during the racing season, riders are treated to a local attraction and for previous years of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, that has meant visits to the Major Taylor Velodrome, Lucas Oil Stadium and other area landmarks.

For the Spaniard Pedrosa, who has shot a few basketballs in his day, the chance to play in an NBA arena was a thrill.

“It’s a dream to be on the floor of a famous stadium,” said the Repsol Honda rider, second in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship standings. “It’s just a fun time.”

Pedrosa, fellow Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Luis Salom, Finland’s Mika Kallio and Americans Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden visited Bankers Life Fieldhouse, met the Pacers’ mascot Boomer and members of the Pacemates and received personalized jerseys with their racing numbers.

Hayden couldn’t take part in an impromptu 3-on-3 game due to recent surgery on his right wrist (Boomer filled in for him), but the Kentuckian enjoyed tossing up some lefthanded shots on the side in a “home” cultural event.

“In other countries we play rugby, cricket, stuff I don’t know the rules for,” the 2006 world champion said. “I wish I could have played (in the pickup game), I could have held my own there.”

Edwards certainly did, showing off the best ball-handling skills in the group and trying to get his court teammate Lorenzo involved as much as possible.

“I’m 40, I’m too old for this,” Edwards joked afterward, having worked up a good sweat. “They’re young and exuberant, they want to learn.”

Come Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the riders will have a reconfigured road course to learn. But that was far from their mind on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse hardwood on Thursday afternoon.

Basketball was calling.