Larry Bird is Happy With What the Pacers Accomplished This Year, But is More Excited About the FutureMay 18, 2011 – 8:15 am by Eric Schmoldt
Larry Bird has been around the NBA long enough to know a good thing when he sees it. And the Indiana Pacers’ team president had a lot to like in watching his team come together to make the playoffs this season.
But Bird has also been around long enough to know that a 37-45 season isn’t really something to party about. In the East, that was enough for the Pacers to earn the eighth seed, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in five games. Sneaking into the playoffs in such fashion was a good step in the rebuilding process, but now that process must continue.
Indiana owner Herb Simon has put full trust in Bird to make that happen. First up, he’ll have to decide whether to keep interim coach Frank Vogel at the helm. Bird spends most of the following interview saying that he likes what Vogel and the team did this past season, but also makes a point to note that many contracts are up in terms of staffing, so who knows what direction Bird is thinking of going.
Larry Bird joined 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis with Grady and Big Joe to discuss his decision to remain a part of the organization, Simon basically putting him in charge as long as he wants to be, the Pacers’ front office, the coaching search and where he’d like to see his team improve.
On his decision to remain on board with the Pacers:
“I think it was with the players. I had more fun during the playoffs this year than at any time I’d been here. When we got here, we had a pretty good team and expected them to get where they was going. This year, finishing up strong and playing in Chicago and competing the way we did and watching our young players improve and having fun, it has to bring excitement to you.”
Was he surprised that owner Herb Simon basically told him he could be in charge as long as he wants?:
“Me and Herbie go back a long way. I know his brother Melvin, played a lot of golf with him years ago. We’ve always had a good relationship. My question was, how does he feel? Does he feel like we’re doing the type of job and is this franchise going the direction he wants it to? He assured me he it was. He’s happy. Obviously you can’t be too happy winning 37 games, but we knew three years ago, when I took over, it was going to be a rough go.”
Is he happy with the way things are situated with the front office?:
“Everybody’s up. I’ve got all of our scouts with their contracts up, all of the coaches, and we’ve got a lot of work to do here. I’d like to get the coaching situation done here as quick as possible, but I know it’s going to take some time. I’m very happy with the job that Frank [Vogel] did, putting him in the situation we put him in with no experience. … Hopefully we can move forward and give some stability to our franchise.”
After saying publicly that Vogel, the interim coach, is the front-runner to take over, are there other coaches he’ll reach out to?:
“I don’t really want to name them. I’m sure it’ll get out. I have contacted a few of them to see their interest in the job. There’s a lot of interest in this job because they see the situation we’re in. But I think Frank did the type of job I liked. Obviously, there are some things I’d like to see changed and we’re going to discuss all that and we’re going to try to get this thing done as fast as we possibly can.”
In what areas would he like to see his roster improve?:
“If you watched us play, you can see some areas we’d like to be a little stronger in. I liked the growth of our young players and I don’t want to bring people in that take their positions and not develop them. If you really look at our team, you know what we need. I think there are some guys out there that would fit with us really well.”
His view of the Eastern Conference Finals between Chicago and Miami:
“It always helps to have that bench. Even on the good teams I played on, we had a strong bench. If you look around the league, Dallas has a strong bench. Even though Miami has great, great players, a team always beats individuals. But they’re good, they’re two of the top players in our league, so we’ll see what happens.”