Larry Bird, the NBA’s reigning Executive of the Year — and the only man to be an MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, is stepping down as president of the Indiana Pacers.
Because of unspecified health reasons, Bird was “100 percent sure” he would not return, the Indianapolis Star reports, citing a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
There’d been rumblings about this since March and on Friday, the Star had reported that Donnie Walsh, Bird’s predecessor as president, would be returning in an undetermined capacity. After 24 years, Walsh left the Pacers in 2008 to become the New York Knicks’ president of basketball operations. Walsh lasted until June 2011 with the Knicks. Kevin Pritchard, the team’s director of player personnel, is expected to become general manager.
Bird, 55, and owner Herb Simon had a handshake agreement that they annually renewed and Bird sounded last month as if he’d like to re-up with the team, which lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and then some.
“I'd do it today if Herbie was here,” Bird joked last month, after the Pacers were eliminated. “We've got kids working out, we've got six free agents, we've got a lot going on right now. Obviously, I want to sit down with Herb as quickly as possible. I don't like this [uncertainty] at all. I'd like a three-year deal, but we have a handshake agreement. It's hard coming in here and not having the answers.”
The Star reports that Bird will take a year off before deciding wht he will do next.