From Legend to Coach? Five Reasons Why Larry Bird Should Not Return to Coaching
NBA greats often follow their successful careers as players with a franchise to the sidelines. In NBA history, plenty of players have turned into coaches and assistant coaches.
Not every transition has been a good one. Although there have been enough coaches that were former players that have achieved the ultimate goal of a championship as a head coach, it is not for everyone.
Larry Bird is an NBA legend and will forever be remembered as one of the best players to have ever played the game. Although he did try coaching a few years back, returning to the sidelines should be avoided by Bird in the near future.
Recently, the Cleveland Cavaliers reached out for Bird to return to coaching just to be quickly dismissed. Here are five reasons why Bird should dismiss any other coaching offer that comes his way.
5. Not The Right Fit
Nowdays in the NBA, coaches are still underrated professionals. Outside of greats like Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan, among others, members of the NBA family only focus on the talent of the players and how they fit together and not the coach.
Just like any basketball player, a coach also provides a certain mindset to a team that also needs to be accounted for when a team is looking to maximize its production. For example, Mike D’Antoni would not be very effective coaching a team like Boston or Detroit. A coach like Doc Rivers would have a hard time coaching Phoenix or Golden State.
Bird brought a good blend of offense and defense to the team that excelled in the half-court offense and was also strong defensively. The offense was slow-paced and driven by ball movement.
Assuming Bird desires to give coaching a try again if things do not work out with coach Jim O’Brien, it would result in a dramatic change in style that could potentially regress the development of the Pacers' team identity.
4. Friends and Family
At the age of 53, Bird is probably not looking to be in a situation where he would have to move around the nation from game to game. For coaches to do that, they need commitment from their family to support them through the process.
This does not imply the Bird family would not support it again, but the lack of interest from Bird could implicitly state that this is nothing he wants to put his family through.
Despite family commitments, coaching is also not a very secure job in the NBA. Time and time again, great coaches with great accomplishments have been fired for a lack of success in a season or two. Bird does not want an unfortunate situation to affect his family.
3. No Desire For The Spotlight
It is safe to say that unlike plenty of other NBA legends, Bird was not a player chasing the spotlight. Bird was not quiet player on the court by any means. Actually, he was as good of a trash talker as they come but not driven by attention.
The same way he was as a player, he was as a coach. He had plenty of success coaching the Pacers. Not many people remember that he did give coaching a shot back in 1997 when he coached the Pacers for three straight seasons. In those three seasons, his Pacers went 147-67.
Even with the level of success he had coaching the Pacers to three straight conference finals and an NBA finals berth, he commonly credited his success to his assistants and his players.
2. Comfort Level
It is no secret Bird was not at his desired comfort level while on the sidelines with the Pacers. Actually, he implied it by quickly dismissing the Cavaliers attempt to hire him, something that was so quick it did not even make the news until weeks after.
At the front office, it could be argued that Bird has not been very successful. It could be respectfully argued that he was even more successful as a coach as he has been as president.
In all fairness, not many presidents have gone through what Bird has gone through with the Pacers. The amount of effort needed to rebuild a franchise that went through a horrible image degradation is immense. Bird and his crew have been able to clean house and bring young talent to the team slowly but efficiently.
The fact that Bird has overcome these obstacles shows that he is comfortable right where he is. And that is the way it should stay.
1. Pacers Future
The Pacers have not been a successful franchise in the last few years, and they are probably another few years from being considered contenders.
Regardless, the Pacers have the best group of players they have had in a long time. They have young talent with All-Star potential in Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison. They also have a captain in Danny Granger that looks ready to embrace his role as team leader and franchise player.
Bird has built the Pacers through the draft and development of young talent. He has the chance to watch these young players develop into stars and someday take the Pacers back to their days of glory. Having the opportunity to experience such a story would be a dream come true to any franchise president.