Although we'd like to pretend that the changing of the guard is as seamless of a process as the most popular narratives often suggest, transitions of that kind are often unspeakably clumsy.
In NBA terms: quasi-stars often falter, promising rookies stall, young head coaches fail to grasp their new, more complete responsibilities, and interim general managers act as placeholders while a franchise looks for the most suitable alternative available.
What we've seen in the Indiana Pacers' front office has been far more efficient and deliberate. First came the report earlier this month (via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports) that Pacers general manager David Morway would soon be unseated by Kevin Pritchard, and that report was followed more recently by one from Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:
Larry Bird has decided to call it quits as president of the Indiana Pacers.
Bird is “100 percent sure” he will not return as president of the team, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Star on Monday.
His departure comes just three days after The Star reported that Bird’s predecessor, former CEO Donnie Walsh, is expected to return to the franchise in some capacity. There’s a possibility Walsh will take Bird’s title of president.
The duo of Walsh and Pritchard (who was already in-house as director of player personnel) is a nice tandem, considering the expediency of this process. The Pacers may not have had any immediate need to replace Morway, but Bird's rather sudden departure—after entertaining the idea of staying in the Pacers' front office—opened up a job that fits Walsh perfectly.
Bird may very well return in a year, but even if not, this is a pretty remarkable success considering Indiana's front-office turnover; with the snap of a finger, one accomplished team president has been replaced with another, and a successful general manager—whose ousting is still fairly strange—too, was succeeded by a relative equal.
This process unfolded as neatly as it possibly could, and while that in itself is only the first step of a pivotal offseason for the Pacers, it's a pace toward the kind of order and carefully laid plan that Indiana most certainly needs.
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