You’re Next, Bird


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You bet I’m going there!  It is only fair that I contemplate GM Larry Bird’s future with the Indiana Pacers now too, right?  He’s not getting off the hook so easily.  Everyone is accountable for the poor performance on the court,  especially the guy who puts all the pieces together.  Bird is now in his seventh season as the Pacers GM, having his hand in everything that is the Indiana Pacers.

This can best be broken into pieces, as Bird has been around for a long time.

Coaching Days

Larry Bird first walked on board when the Indiana Pacers hired him as head coach in 1997.  He took over an already seasoned, veteran squad, led by Indiana icon Reggie Miller.  Bird quickly established himself as a good coach, showcasing his high basketball IQ vividly through his players.  His accolades earned him Coach of the Year, making him the only person to win it combined with an MVP award as a player.  Eventually he would lead the Pacers to their first and last NBA Finals to date, in 2000.  The Pacers were defeated by the Los Angelos Lakers, and Bird retired from coaching after a bright three years of success.

In those three strong  years of basketball, Bird proved his presence in the NBA was still highly relevant.  Enough proof that the Pacers were delighted to bring him back in 2003 to start working under former CEO Donnie Walsh.  It came by no surprise, though.

Bird is a winner.

Rookie Mistakes

The current mess that we call our Indiana Pacers is a direct result of poor decisions by Bird in his early years of management.  I’m well aware Donnie Walsh is part to blame as well, but Bird should have seen and diffused the disaster before it happened.  Loading a team with top-heavy contracts in favor of some lazy, uninspired athletes was the beginning of an implosion.  Bird knows better than anyone the key components of forming a team that can contend with anyone, yet he put his money on blind faith and fell into the trap of a new era in the NBA, where players don’t pull their weight when they get payed.

You can’t even rank the poor decisions in order, they were all equally as bad. 

Jamaal Tinsley anyone?

Still paying him $10 million per year and he plays for another team.

Ron Artest?

He still cares more about being a rap artist.  Oh, and this. Yep.

Don’t exclude Jermaine O’Neal…

He was making more money than Kobe Bryant at one point.  Um, what?

Putting His Best Foot Forward

Since has Bird cleaned house.  He was swift in getting rid of all the poisonous players in effort to start with a fresh image.  Unfortunately, the price payed to ship all those guys out was very steep.  Bird had to take on another handful of athletes with over-loaded contracts (Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford).  Then with the release of Jamaal Tinsley because no team would make a trade for the troubled player, the Pacers got nothing in return and are still sending him checks.

It was hard to do but it had to be done.  Bird did what was necessary in all reality.  He has patiently positioned the organization to be a player in the market soon, by standing pat and not making lucrative deals for more underachievers.  On the other half of the equation, he has brought in some bargain athletes like Dahntay Jones, Earl Watson and Josh McRoberts (I was in his graduating class at Carmel High School, ha).  Bird has also put together a few solid drafts, acquiring Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush, A.J. Price and Tyler Hansborough, all of whom have plenty of room to improve.

He has a vision; he must.  Bird is trying to piece together a team the state of Indiana can be proud of, and he’s not taking any shortcuts.  That’s a good thing, trust me.

I think it’s safe to say Bird has learned from his past mistakes and is making great strides in building the team that will give Indiana Pacers’ basketball a good name again.

Also seen at Nick From Naptwon