Skip to content

Larry Bird says Pacers are ‘all in,’ believes they can compete for a title

Sep 25, 2013, 8:49 AM EDT

NCAA Championship Game: Michigan State Spartans v North Carolina Tar Heels Getty Images

The Pacers took the eventual champion Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, and reloaded with plenty of reserve talent this summer.

In addition to the return of Danny Granger to the lineup, Indiana added Luis Scola, Chris Copeland, and C.J. Watson in order to solidify the bench unit for another run deep into the postseason.

External expectations for the Pacers are at an all-time high, but it’s no different within the organization. Larry Bird believes the team is poised to compete for a championship as early as this season.

From Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star:

Larry Bird doesn’t play around. He doesn’t soften expectations, doesn’t keep goals artificially low so he can say at season’s end, “See, we overachieved.” So the question was asked of the Indiana Pacers president just a few days before the start of training camp Saturday.

“Does this team have the potential to win a world championship?’’

He never blinked.

“Yes,” he said. “We’re all in.” …

“Anything less than (a Finals appearance or a conference finals appearance) would be a disappointment,” he said. “I think anything over 50 wins is a good season, but I believe we’re built more for the playoffs than we are for the regular season. Because we’re deep and we’ll have time to prepare. It’s hard to beat 10 or 11 guys.”

When Phil Jackson coached those Bulls and Lakers teams to a total of 11 NBA titles, he never coached game-to-game; he always coached each minute as if he was looking at an overview of the entire championship season.

That seems to be what Bird is suggesting here — just get through the regular season as a top-four seed, and prepare your players, schemes, and rotations for the two-month grind of the postseason.

The Granger question is the one of most interest to the Pacers entering the season. If he can coexist with Paul George and fit into Indiana’s team concept, he’ll likely stick around. But if Granger isn’t a match for a team that’s been transformed during his injury-forced absence, it’s quite possible that he could be dealt at the trade deadline for players who could immediately help contribute to Indiana’s championship cause.

Latest Posts
  1. Al Jefferson got two shots in his injured foot, left arena in walking boot, plans to play through it

    Apr 21, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Charlotte Bobcats  vs Miami Heat Getty Images

    Charlotte already had a slim margin for error against Miami (if that) and their star being hobbled is not helping matters.

  2. Monday NBA playoff previews: Expect a different looking Clippers/Warriors game.

    Apr 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin, Darren Collison, DeAndre Jordan Blake Griffin, Darren Collison, DeAndre Jordan

    Hopefully the refs let the Clippers and Warriors play some playoff basketball this time around. Thunder/Grizzlies Game 2 as well on Monday.

  3. Sunday NBA grades: Nene, Aldridge lead day where big men shine

    Apr 21, 2014, 2:32 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game One Getty Images

    Aldridge set a Blazers record with 46 points in a playoff game. Nene reminded everyone why he

  4. Bulls have no answer for Nene as Wizards take Game 1

    Apr 20, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT

    Nene, Carlos Boozer Nene, Carlos Boozer

    Nene gets his first start since February and the Wizards steal Game 1.

  5. Charlotte is scrappy but Heat have too much in comfortable 99-88 win

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh

    Bobcats were scrappy, but with Al Jefferson hurting Miami just had too much LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

  6. Gregg Popovich interview with Craig Sager Jr. actually a get-well wish (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    popovich sager1

    Touching moment as Gregg Popovich delivers a heartfelt message.

  7. Spurs use huge 4th quarter run to come back and win Game 1 vs. Mavericks

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT

    Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan

    Spurs close the game on a 19-4 run after trailing by double digits.

  8. NBA issues statement saying Chris Paul was fouled before late-game turnover against Warriors

    Apr 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Chris Paul, Draymond Green Chris Paul, Draymond Green

    Statement confirms referees handled replay review correctly, but also admits that they missed the initial foul call on a critical possession.

  9. Jim Buss says he’ll step down if Lakers aren’t contenders again in ‘three to four years’

    Apr 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Jim Buss Jim Buss

    If Jim Buss fails to deliver in quickly rebuilding the Lakers, he says he’ll resign.

  10. Hibbert says he’s the “weak link on defense,” hopes for better Game 2

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game One Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert owned up to a poor Game 1. Will he do anything about it in Game 2 is the question.

  11. Raptors say malfunctioning shot clocks will be fixed in time for Game 2 vs. Nets

    Apr 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    raptors shot clock

    Shot clocks stopped working midway through the third quarter, but Raptors say all will be well in time for Game 2.

  12. Thunder start fast, cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:44 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

    OKC led by as many as 25 points in the first half.

  13. Kyle Korver swats Roy Hibbert’s shot out of bounds (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Getty Images

    Roy Hibbert wasn’t good in Game 1 against the Hawks, and this play epitomized his performance.

  14. Pacers’ troubles continue as Hawks convincingly win Game 1

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT

    Pacers' Hibbert looks down court during Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series against the Heat in Indianapolis Reuters

    The eight-seed Hawks blowout the Pacers in Game 1.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (3183)
  2. L. James (3074)
  3. C. Anthony (2837)
  4. K. Durant (2825)
  5. S. Curry (2805)
  1. D. Rose (2652)
  2. A. Bogut (2532)
  3. B. Griffin (2451)
  4. R. Westbrook (2388)
  5. C. Paul (2348)