By Josh Kramer
Some people can just do it all. Larry Bird is one of those people. Yesterday, Bird added to his already amazingly long list of basketball achievements in taking home the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award. Bird not only excelled as a player, but he saw great success as a coach, and now is thriving as Indiana’s President of Basketball Operations. Bird is the only person in NBA history to be named MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Bird would trade the latter two awards for the 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship though. But I digress.
What Bird has accomplished is absolutely mind-boggling. Just ask Michael Jordan how difficult it is to transition from a player to an executive. Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats set an NBA record for the lowest winning percentage of all time this season. Sure plenty of former players have turned into great coaches. Phil Jackson, the “Zen Master,” is one of those guys. But was Jackson half the player that Bird was?
Many do not truly understand the magnitude of what Larry Legend has done for his home state of Indiana. He is beginning to rival the service that his dear friend Magic has provided for Los Angeles. As a collegian, Bird took a bunch of guys nobody had ever heard of to a near perfect season. Then he represented his hometown of French Lick as one of the NBA’s biggest stars for 13 years, taking home three MVP Awards and three NBA Championships. Following his illustrious playing career and some much deserved time off, he coached the pride and joy of Indianapolis to two Conference Finals and their only Finals appearance in franchise history. The remarkable part is these were his only three years at the helm. Then Bird took over as team President in 2003, studying under Donnie Walsh. Sure Larry did not see the instant success he was accustomed to. But he also dealt with many issues, namely the “Malice at the Palace.”
Now the Pacers are a formidable team that should be in contention for years to come. Though I do not see them taking down the mighty Bosh-less Heat, the Pacers should still be proud of all they have accomplished this season. Bird has the Pacers back to winning with a great young core. This Indiana team is a player away from being a championship caliber squad.
Really though, what can’t Larry Bird do when it comes to basketball? I guess he could live up to his last name and fly.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.