Larry Bird Rumors
Schmidt’s love for his country and the national team – which he led to five Olympic games from 1980 to 1996 – was so strong that he shunned overtures from the NBA because of a now-obsolete rule that prohibited its players from participating in international competitions. At age 26, Schmidt declined playing for the New Jersey Nets after going in the sixth round of the 1984 draft. Instead, Schmidt elected to continue racking up his more than 49,000 points, across four countries, until he was 45. Had he decided to come to the NBA and tested his talents against the likes of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, Schmidt is fairly confident in what he would have done.
Bird also talked about the Pacers’ new look for the 2016-17 season. Nate McMillan will take over as head coach for the upcoming season and Bird has brought in several veteran players to help bolster Indiana’s offensive attack, including Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, and Al Jefferson. “We want a style where we can score,” Bird said. “I’d like to score 105 points a game or maybe 106, but still defend the way we have. “Nate’s got over 900 games that he’s coached in the NBA and he’s got a style…I think he’s going to do an excellent job for us.”
The topic allowed Miller to bring up Bird’s fabled performances in the 3-point contest during NBA All-Star Weekends. Bird won the first three contests the NBA ever held from 1986-88. Legend has it that before his third victory, Bird showed up in the locker room and asked the other contestants, “Who’s coming in second?” Miller asked Bird if he really did that, and Bird sheepishly confirmed the story. “Yeah, I did,” Bird admitted. “…I got lucky because I almost got beat in the first round.”
Colangelo: I called a meeting in Chicago of former Olympic coaches going back to 1960; only two were unable to make it. So we had a great array of former coaches and Olympian basketball players going way back and current, including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Jerry West, I could go on and on. Tooley: Michael Jordan was there, Dean Smith, John Thompson, Lenny Wilkins, Larry Bird was there as a player, [Clyde] Drexler, Chris Mullin. Ford: Jerry West spoke very emotionally about how important [USA Basketball was to him]. He said, “The only jersey that gets hung in my house is my USA jersey. I couldn’t wait to go over and play the Russians.”
“I’m glad he’s not letting me waste years,” he said of Bird. “I think Larry and (the rest of the front office) have expressed how bad they want to get back to (the Eastern Conference finals) by these moves this offseason. I’m looking forward to getting us back there. He’s putting talent around me to help me get to what we all want to get accomplish, and that’s a championship.”