Larry Bird said yesterday he plans to step down as coach of the Indiana Pacers at the end of the 1999-2000 season when his three-year contract expires.
"Do I expect Larry to coach after next season? No," club president Donnie Walsh said of Bird's statement, adding he hasn't sat down with Bird since last season to discuss his future plans.
Speaking during a recent news conference in Indianapolis to promote his book, "Bird Watching: On Playing and Coaching the Game I Love," Bird confirmed he had no plans to coach past the upcoming season.
"I said that to Donnie when I came in. Three years is enough for a coach in any one place. After the three years I told him I'd probably be done," Bird said yesterday in a satellite interview from Naples, Fla., with Indianapolis television station WTHR.
"It's been a great experience for me. It's not something I dreamed of doing," said Bird, named NBA coach of the year in his rookie season on the Indiana bench when the Pacers reached the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals before losing to eventual NBA champion Chicago.
The Pacers followed up by winning the Central Division championship last year, but were upset in the Eastern Conference finals by the New York Knicks.
"It's been an unbelievable experience for me. Now it's time to move on," Bird said.
"The bottom line is I'd like to see him continue with the franchise in some way," Walsh said. "I'm extremely pleased with everything he's done as a coach, and if he doesn't want to coach, then I'd love to have him with us in another role.
"Larry and I have to sit down and discuss his desires. We haven't had any recent conversation about his future, and I've told him that I'd like to have one when he gets back in town."
"We really haven't had a sit-down talk and discussed his future desires," Walsh said. "He's frequently said he had no plans to coach past his contract, and he knows we want him in the organization. . . . I'm not going to comment on his desire to continue coaching. That's up to him, and also I'm not going to respond to help him promote a book."