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Larry Bird is leaving Indiana Pacers, Walsh to step in

Jun 26, 2012, 9:44 AM EDT

Former NBA player Bird attends premiere of Magic Bird in New York Reuters

It had long been the thought around the league that this was Larry Bird’s last year as president of the Pacers. Bird denied it. Directly. More than once.

But in the end, he was ready to leave the Pacers.

Bird is stepping down as team president, reports the Indy Star.

Bird is “100 percent sure” he will not return as president of the team, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Star on Monday. Bird, 55, is expected to meet with owner Herb Simon today to finalize his departure…

Bird, who is dealing with some health issues (back and shoulder), will likely take a year off before deciding if he wants to return to any sort of front-office position.

He almost certainly will be replaced by Donnie Walsh, who is returning to the team he lead for many years before going to New York. While this has not been confirmed it makes perfect sense.

The Pacers are a team on the cusp — they had the third best record in the East last year, led by a young core including Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said recently he was more nervous when he team was down 2-1 to Indy than when they were down 3-2 to Boston. On top of their core, they have a lot of cap space to lure a free agent — if they can land a star they could be contenders in a crowded East.

There also has been buzz that Kevin Pritchard will be bumped up to general manager of the Pacers. Which is a good hire. There is a lot to like for Pacers fans, this should be a smooth transition.

  1. jimbo75025 - Jun 26, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Larry Bird is 55? Suddenly I feel very old?

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 26, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      You, and he, are not!

      • florida727 - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:06 PM

        I have suits that are older than he is :)

  2. miamatt - Jun 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Hate to see Larry Legend go, but glad that Donnie Walsh is back in the game, after the screw job he got in NY.

    The Pacers would be intriguing if they can lure a go-to scorer, but I’m not sure if there is a good fit out there in this year’s FA class. They could throw everything at Steve Nash, but I doubt he does it.

  3. metalhead65 - Jun 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    please say that walsh returning is wrong. the guy was responsible for the the thugs and bad contracts that Bird had to get rid of to rebuild the pacers and they want him back?

    • gostlcards5 - Jun 26, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      Yes, but Donnie Walsh was also responsible for the Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Dale Davis, Chris Mullin (with Antonio Davis off the bench) team that went to the NBA Finals in 2000. I’m more than willing to give him another shot.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:30 PM

        Absolutely. And Haywood Workman too. I loved that guy!

  4. thetooloftools - Jun 26, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Good Luck Larry Bird. You are a class act and a fine example of how a super star should carry themselves.

  5. jaysfan64 - Jun 26, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Best wishes to Bird, who is one of the most down to earth, refreshing people in pro sports…

  6. florida727 - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Whatever Bird’s plans are going forward, nothing but good wishes that he finds enjoyment in his next endeavor. Class act that did wonders for the Celtics’ organization, but even more impressive was the way he guided the Pacers back to respectability, and did it mostly without ever drawing attention to himself. In today’s sports world of me-first attitudes, that’s pretty refreshing. I was never a fan of his, the Celtics, or the Pacers per se, but congratulations, Larry, for a career that was certainly fun watching. Major respect.

  7. stlouis1baseball - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Yes Kurt. It will be a smooth transition. If Larry has to be replaced by someone I am glad it is Donnie.
    But that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

  8. badintent - Jun 26, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Still wish we had him back in NYC !!! Damn Isiah.

  9. dhillca - Jun 26, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    For gods sake Larry change your hair, 40 years of that is too much man

    • 28loose - Jun 27, 2012 at 1:56 AM

      3 titles, 3 MVPs, coach of the year and gm of the year gives you a license to have your hair any way you want it.

  10. vstyle23 - Jun 27, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    Breaking news!!! Larry’s coming to coach D12 and the Orlando Magic!!! Well, at least it sounds good

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