Larry Bird Rumors
West’s decision to leave in pursuit of immediate gratification in what could be the final season of his career amplified everything. As team president Larry Bird said, West’s surprising move brought about several other changes, as it cost the team its starting power forward and on-court leader. At that point there was no point in trying to maintain the core of the teams that reached the conference finals in consecutive seasons. The mutual desire for Hibbert to move on was another major factor, opening a major hole at center that had been filled for seven seasons. Stuckey, Allen and Whittington were re-signed, but the upcoming roster still includes eight new players: Chase Budinger, Toney Douglas, Monta Ellis, Jordan Hill, Glenn Robinson III and rookies Myles Turner, Joe Young and Rakeem Christmas.
The historical comparisons run rampant in the NBA off-season, and the latest weigh-in comes from Reggie Miller when Dan Patrick asks him which player he’d take in their prime in today’s NBA, Larry Bird or LeBron James. You might be able to guess that Miller leans towards his old coach with the Indiana Pacers, and you’d be right.
“[Bird] changed my life, and I hope people know that,” Hibbert says. “I have nothing bad to say about him or the Pacers. I had some great years there.” Says David Falk, Hibbert’s agent: “We have a great relationship with Larry Bird. Indiana was great for Roy for most of the first six years. They go in a different direction; we felt we had to go in a different direction. We both came to the same conclusion.”
Me: Were you surprised that Larry was so pointed in his assessment of the season and your role going forward — which was to say, a much smaller role? Roy Hibbert: Larry says what’s on his mind. He doesn’t hold his tongue. Things happen. Like I said, I enjoyed my time there in Indy. You just have gotta move on, get ready for the next chapter…Larry was very up front with me. He said before the press conference that I can’t promise you minutes next year, and they wanted to go in a different direction. So it wasn’t like what happened came out of nowhere, what he said. I’ll always say that Larry changed my life. I was on the phone with my agent in the office during the (2009) Draft process and Larry said ‘If Roy’s there at 17, we’ll take him.’ That meant a lot to me. I know that things change and the NBA is “What have you done for me lately?”, but I could never say a bad thing about Larry or the Pacers’ organization.
Me: What did it mean to you to have David West have your back so publicly? RH: It meant a lot. We talked all the time throughout the year. I kind of took a step back and didn’t read the media. After the year I took the usual month off. And obviously seeing what he said, we talked. I won’t go into great detail about what we talked about, but it felt good. We’ve talked a lot about the business side of the NBA. I know why he said it, and I know why Larry said what he had to say.
Finally, Patrick concluded the interview by asking Bird if he could take his old friend and current Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. Bird joked that he’d wear a Hickory uniform for the contest before revealing who he thought would come out on top. “Boy, that’d be a good game,” Bird said. “God, I hate to admit this, but he’d kill me.”
“I felt all along it was important to re-sign Rodney,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “He proved to us last year how much he could help. He’s a pro and a good teammate. We’re really happy to have him back. He added a lot to our team, on and off the court.”