Larry Bird Returning to Indiana Pacers Front Office
UPDATE: Wednesday, June 26, at 5:05 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
CBS Sports' Ken Berger tweeted details about Bird's return:
Pacers announce Larry Bird agrees to multi-year deal as team president. Donnie Walsh will stay on as consultant, and Kevin Pritchard as GM.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 26, 2013
The Pacers also officially announced Bird's return via a press release on NBA.com:
The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday that Larry Bird will return to the team as President of Basketball Operations. Bird agreed to a multi-year deal and per team policy, no terms will be released. Donnie Walsh, who held that position the last year, will be a consultant to the franchise and Kevin Pritchard remains as the Pacers’ General Manager.
Pacers owner Herb Simon said:
We are all very happy to have Larry back. When he left last July, Donnie and I both told him the door would be open for him to come back when he’s ready. Larry had a huge impact on this team and where it is now so it’s fitting that he comes back at this time. Donnie has been a friend and a valuable contributor to the franchise and will continue to be both. I wanted him to agree to stay in some capacity as I believe with Larry and Kevin, it gives us three of the best basketball minds in the business.
Bird also added this:
The year off gave me a chance to reflect, to rest, to take care of some health issues and it re-charged me. Donnie and Kevin did a great job and I will lean on both heavily as we move forward toward the goal of competing for a championship.
---End of update---
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski had the news on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon:
Larry Bird is returning to the Pacers in a front office role, league source tells Y! Sports. Team has called a news conference for Thursday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2013
Bird is returning after a year away to run the franchise again, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2013
Rumored as a potential candidate for the Sacramento Kings' then-vacant general manager position, Bird removed himself from consideration in that search earlier this month. According to Jason Jones and Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, Bird reportedly wanted a $5 million salary and a stake in the franchise if he was moving to the West Coast.
Bird was also rumored as a candidate to return to the Pacers earlier this offseason. The chatter really picked up after Indiana was ousted from the playoffs following its Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat.
Owner Herb Simon: "We know Larry (Bird). Larry will make a decision shortly and let us know. I’m sure he’s checking out his options."— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNBA) June 7, 2013
Walsh: "I don't know what Larry [Bird] wants to do...I'd love to see him come back."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 13, 2013
Bird first joined his home-state franchise back in 1997, coaching the team for three seasons before bowing out after the 1999-2000 season. His Indiana teams had a winning percentage of .660 or higher in each of his three seasons at the helm, and he also took all three teams to at least the Eastern Conference Finals.
Indiana made the NBA Finals in 2000, but it lost to the Los Angeles Lakers shortly before Bird announced his decision to leave his post as head coach.
He rejoined the franchise as the President of Basketball Operations in 2003, a role he would hold until parting ways with the franchise again just one day before the 2012 NBA draft. Now, one year later, he comes back to the Pacers front office shortly before the upcoming draft.
What position should Bird and the Pacers address with the No. 23 pick?
His career highlights from his post-NBA career include winning NBA Coach of the Year in 1998 and NBA Executive of the Year in 2012.
Any NBA historian will also tell you Bird's long list of accomplishments as a player: three NBA championships, three NBA MVPs, 12 All-Star Games and 24.3-point, 10.0-rebound, 6.3-assist per game averages in 13 NBA seasons.
Responsible for decisions like drafting Paul George at No. 10 in 2010, trading for George Hill on draft night in 2011 and signing power forward David West as a free agent, Bird still had a big imprint on Indiana's success this year without being part of its braintrust.
He's also never been afraid of letting his personality come out in his front-office role (calling the Pacers soft after a playoff loss to Miami in 2012, for example).
The Hick from French Lick is now heading back home. With Indiana's success the past couple of seasons and the No. 23 pick in the draft on Thursday night, Bird could be rejoining the Pacers just in time to mark the beginning of a long stint atop the East.
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