Dream Team legend Bird steps down as Pacers boss: report

0
79

Dream Team legend Bird steps down as Pacers boss: report

Chicago (AFP) – Larry Bird is stepping down as president of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, the 1992 US Olympic “Dream Team” player having spent the past two decades with his home-state club, Yahoo Sports reported Friday.

Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ general manager since June 2012, will replace Bird in the post, according to the report, with Bird expect to remain a consultant with the team.

Bird won three NBA titles, three NBA Most Valuable Player awards and two NBA Finals MVP awards playing for the Boston Celtics from 1979-1992.

Nagging back pain forced him to retire, but not before the country-styled small-town Indiana “Hick from French Lick” joined such fellow icons as Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan on the gold medal squad in Barcelona that raised the sport’s global profile, the first to use NBA talent in the Olympics.

Bird, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, was named coach of the Pacers in 1997 and guided them for three seasons.

Under Bird, the Pacers lost the 1998 Eastern Conference finals to Jordan-led Chicago, the 1999 East finals to New York and the 2000 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers powered by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Bird was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1998, the only former NBA MVP to have taken the coaching award as well.

In 2003, Bird returned as the Pacers president of basketball operations, a post he kept until 2012 due to health issues. Bird was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2012, when Indiana lost to Miami in the second round of the playoffs.

Bird returned to the basketball operations presidency a year later, after Indiana lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. The next season, the Pacers again fell to the LeBron James-led Heat in the East final.

But Indiana missed the playoffs in 2015 and was ousted in the first round the past two seasons, last year by Toronto and this year being swept by James-led Cleveland after a 42-40 campaign. In the past three years Indiana was 125-121.

Bird, 60, made his public farewell to the Pacers on Monday in New York by driving an IndyCar five blocks in a publicity stunt to deliver Indiana’s bid to host the 2021 NBA All-Star Game to the league’s Fifth Avenue offices.

“Only in New York,” Bird said. “You go through your life and you grow up hoping you get to do something special. That was really special. I enjoyed that and being here in New York made it even more special.”

Larry Bird arrives for the 2014 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremonyat Symphony Hall on August 8, 2014 in Springfield, Massachusetts
Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File Jim Rogash

 

Leave a Reply