Fox59 Sports has been told that Larry Bird is returning to the Pacers front office.
Bird, the former President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers, is expected to make his official return at a press conference on Thursday for the same position. Bird took the entire 2012-13 season off shortly after last year’s NBA Draft due to health reasons. During his absence, Donnie Walsh held the position as Indiana finished the season with a 49-32 record and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
Bird, who returns to the position on July 1st, had this to say through a press release from the Pacers:
“The year off gave me a chance to reflect, to rest, to take care of some health issues and it re-charged me,” said Bird. “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.”
Walsh, who will stay with the team as a consultant, had this to say as well:
““I met with Larry when he wanted to leave last year and I said I would do this until he was ready to come back,” said Walsh. “Well, he’s ready and I couldn’t be happier. I had a great year last year with this team. It is a great group of guys who have the potential for some great things and to remain a part of this, with two people who I love to work with and respect greatly, is very special.”
Bird originally held the position starting in 2003, a few years after his stint as Pacers head coach that lasted from 1997-2000. During that span the Pacers reached the NBA Finals once, when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000.
The most memorable moments of Birds’ past tenure as President of Basketball Operations include some high moments and low ones.
During Bird’s first-year the Pacers reached the Eastern Conference Finals and lost to the Detroit Pistons in six games, but the following season the infamous brawl in Detroit at the beginning of the season left a heavy black-eye on the organization. Slowly but surely though, including four-years worth of non-playoff appearances, Bird helped mold a team that would be widely respected in the Association. It was mostly Bird’s blueprints and vision that helped mold the team into two straight playoff runs during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, and during his last season he was voted the league’s Executive of the Year.
Bird can be credited for piecing most of the puzzle for the players that were around for the Eastern Conference Finals run this past season as well.
Among Bird’s biggest decisions will be what to do with free-agent David West, but many believe the Pacers will not have a problem resigning the starting forward.
Larry Bird is most famous for his play with the Boston Celtics, when he was a three-time NBA champion and three-time NBA Most Valuable Player. Many consider Bird to be one of the top players in league history, and is the only player to have won an MVP award, an NBA Finals MVP, Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year award, and an Olympic gold medal.
Bird is originally from French Lick, Indiana, where he played varsity basketball for Springs Valley. There he would become an Indiana All-Star, averaging 30.6 points per game and leading the team to a Regional championship. Bird would play his collegiate basketball at Indiana State, where he would lead the squad to the National Championship game.
The Pacers expect to have a press conference at 10:00 AM on Thursday morning at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Fox59 will be carrying it live on both WXIN Fox59 and Fox59.com.
The organization will also be in the news on Thursday night, when the team makes their selection in the first round of the NBA Draft with the twenty-third pick.