The Indiana Pacers hired Larry Bird as the new head coach of their team, and then immediately locked him down with a long-term contract. In one brief meeting he convinced ownership to make this move despite having never coached before or been involved in an NBA front office.
Larry Bird locked down the Indiana Pacers Head Coaching Job after 1 brief meeting. The team had already decided that they wanted to go with Nate McMillan, but Larry Bird convinced them otherwise. This was a huge move for the team, as it’s one of the most successful franchises in basketball history. Read more in detail here: larry bird 2021.
Early on, Larry Bird disproved the concept that success in the NBA required great athleticism. The Boston Celtics’ standout was named to the All-NBA team ten times and was named MVP three times while winning three titles. He also shown that superstar athletes can succeed as head coaches.
Bird became the head coach of the Indiana Pacers many years after his playing career ended. And, as you would imagine, Larry Legend didn’t waste any time proving he was the appropriate guy for the job.
Larry Bird was one of the best coaches in the game.
During a news conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, Indiana Pacers coach Larry Bird talks to media. | Allsport / Matthew Stockman
Bird’s résumé from his playing days is better than practically every other NBA head coach on the list. Only Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, and Isiah Thomas can compare to the former Celtics star who is now the head coach of the Indiana Pacers.
In his 13-year career, Bird appeared in 12 All-Star Games. The lone exception occurred in 1988-89, when Larry was limited to just six games after having bone spurs removed from both of his heels for the whole season. During his remarkable career, he was also named to three All-Defense teams.
Bird’s career averages were 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists when he retired after the 1991-92 season. He made 37.6% of his three-point attempts, including six seasons of 40% or above. He is still second all-time in win shares with the Celtics, following only 11-time champion Russell.
After only one meeting, the Indiana Pacers wanted to employ Larry Bird.
The Pacers enjoyed a strong run in the early 1990s, reaching the playoffs seven times in a row. Following four seasons on the job, Larry Brown departed after a 39-43 record in 1996-97. Meanwhile, even before Brown’s departure was announced, president and general manager Walsh, Donnie was in communication with Bird.
Walsh was enthralled by the prospect of Bird, a French Lick native and Indiana State graduate, returning home to coach. However, there were a few roadblocks. For starters, the 40-year-old Bird had never taught before at any level. And, except from a few passing handshakes, Walsh and Bird had never met in person.
Nonetheless, the Celtics’ special assistant was intrigued enough to inquire about the position with Walsh. And it didn’t take long for the Pacers’ general manager to realize that Larry Legend was the right man for the position (New York Times).
“In March, we met in the Final Four [in Indianapolis].” He was the only man I desired after an hour and a half. He followed through on all he said.
He promised he’d get them in better shape, and he delivered. He said that he would not tolerate tardiness and that he would be harsh, which he did. He said that he would give power to excellent coaches, and he did so. He also said that he believed in preparing his squad and then allowing them to play, which he did. He was familiar with the group and understood what it needed.”
The encounter between Bird and Walsh took place towards the end of March. Bird was formally revealed as the Pacers’ new head coach on May 9.
Bird’s coaching career was short yet fruitful.
Larry knew his time on the bench would be limited from the start. Bird intended to instruct for three years before moving on to pastures new. And he did just that, but not before guiding the Pacers to a successful three-year run.
Walsh reportedly told the Boston Herald, “Larry established things and stuck with them.” “Every time he practiced, he did so at the same time.” Every time, our team departed for the airport at the same time…. It established a pattern, and the players began to play in that manner without even realizing it. He helped them comprehend what they needed to accomplish and instilled in them the habit of doing it — which carried over to the game floor. They understood exactly what they had to accomplish.”
Bird converted a 39-43 squad on the decline into a 58-24 juggernaut that came one game short of defeating the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season. The Pacers returned to the ECF the following season, but were defeated by the New York Knicks in six games. Larry Legend then led the 56-26 Indiana Pacers to the NBA Finals in his third and last season as coach, which concluded in a six-game defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pacers may have won their first NBA title if Bird had elected to stay as coach for more than three years. Even though it was only for three years, Walsh’s decision to hire the legendary Larry Bird paid off handsomely.
Basketball Reference provided all statistics.
When Larry Bird was coaching the Pacers, his incredible resume and transcendent aura prompted his own players to refer to him as a “God.”
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Larry Bird locked down the Indiana Pacers head coaching job after a brief meeting. Bird was offered the position by Frank Vogel, but he decided to take a look at what other teams were looking for and ultimately declined. Reference: larry bird vaccine.
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