Larry Bird made the decision last year.
After nearly 40 years in the NBA, he had started plotting an exit strategy.
The 60-year-old Hall-of-Famer finally told the rest of the world Monday: He was stepping down as Indiana’s president of basketball operations, turning the reins over to Kevin Pritchard and staying in the Pacers organization as a scout and consultant.
“Maybe when I turn 70, I’ll come back,” Bird joked. “But right now, my wife is happy. She’s been on this run since I was a sophomore in college.”
I’m in Phoenix for this:
Hey, it’s a big game, and somebody’s got to watch it!
Something to plan for next season.
The NCAA basketball season is over, and the end of the Villanova game was spectacular. But games are always better when you have a rooting interest.
So I thought back to the first time I went to an NCAA tournament game ,because it was a family affair;
My nephew was one of the players on the 15-seed Coppin State Eagles when they beat the 2-seed South Carolina Gamecocks in 1997. I remember being in the stands and rooting my head off.
But this is the first time I’ve actually seen the game. A videotape has been floating around the family for almost 20 years, but I just never got the chance to watch it. So today, I go to YouTube, and there it is.
You know, when you’re at the arena, you witness what’s going on, but it’s all hazy, because, when you’re really into it, you’re yelling and jumping up and down, and screaming at the refs and are basically caught up in the insanity of it all.
Like I remember that Coppin State was such a small school, it didn’t have its own band, so it borrowed the band from Morgan State, on the other side of Baltimore. I remember the cheerleaders didn’t have the elaborate routines that South Carolina had. And I remember being with family: my 6-year-old son, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.
But actually watching the televised game, and hearing the commentators say my nephew’s game, and looking at the crowd shots where I see me and my family going nuts in the crowd almost two decades ago makes me think of broadcasts and movies as little time machines where you can go back into the past and relive some of the greatest moments in your life.
Today, my son is all grown and as tall as the players you see on the court, but he was so tiny then. Some of my family members are no longer with us, but I can see them, right there in Pittsburgh so full of life. And strangely, I don’t believe it, but I look the same as I do now.
What’s that all about?
Basketball does mean a lot in the most remote places. We see the pros and we see the top college teams, but this is basketball in its purest form.
This is what they were doing before I was born:
And here’s what they’re doing today:
When the WNBA began, I had season tickets at Madison Square Garden for the New York Liberty. And what I remember most about that team was the tiny blonde rookie guard who’d come off the bench and sink 3s from NBA distance.
And this week, the Liberty added that little guard, Becky Hammon, to its Ring of Honor:
Every Liberty fan from those days loved Becky. The franchise player was the center, Rebecca Lobo, who was on all of the billboards and in all of the WNBA promotion when the league started. But Becky was the player everyone rooted for. Here’s forward Sue Wicks talking about Becky’s early career:
And how good was she? Here you go:
But the future looks extremely interesting:
So the kid with bangs might be a head coach in the NBA? Had no idea that was going to happen.