NBA legend and hall-of-famer Larry Bird is stepping down from his role as President of the Indiana Pacers, but will remain with the team as a consultant. General Manager Kevin Pritchard will fill the void left by Bird’s departure.
Larry Bird is stepping down as Pacers president, league sources tell @TheVertical. Kevin Pritchard will take over basketball operations.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) April 28, 2017
The 60-year-old from French Lick, Indiana, was a 12-time NBA All-Star and a three-time Champion with the Boston Celtics, in what goes down as one of the most illustrious careers of all-time. Bird has also won three Most Valuable Player awards (1984-1986), a Coach of the Year award (1998), and an Executive of the Year award (2012); the only figure in NBA history to win all three awards.
The timing of his decision has led many to question how this will impact All-Star forward Paul George, whose contract expires next summer. One of the worst kept secrets around the league is George’s interest in joining forces with the Los Angeles Lakers in his hometown. The reactions have been pretty split, with some thinking Bird stepping down will decrease the chances of George staying in Indiana.
Alex Golden of Lets Talk NBA:
I was not expecting Larry Bird to step down this season. Wow. Paul George’s likelihood of being a part of the #Pacers just went down IMO.
— Alex Golden (@AlexGoldenNBA) April 28, 2017
While Andy King of SiriusXM has a completely different theory that could make it more dramatic:
Did Larry Bird get forced out to accommodate Paul George, which would make the Pacers for attractive to be sold to investors?
— Andy King (@AndyKingSXM) April 28, 2017
Whether or not Bird’s sudden depature following the Pacers first round loss to the reigning champions Cleveland Cavaliers had anything to do with George, it certainly will have an impact. Bird started his second stint as the Pacers decision-maker in 2013 and they have subsequently clinched a playoff berth three out of four seasons since his one-year absence.
Pritchard joined the Pacers in 2011 as the team’s Director of Player Personnel. He got promoted to General Manager in 2012 and will now oversee basketball operations for the foreseeable future.