Larry Bird explains why he stepped down, endorses Kevin Pritchard as Pacers' new GM
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Larry Bird explains why he stepped down, endorses Kevin Pritchard as Pacers’ new GM

Larry Bird, Kevin Pritchard

Shortly after a four-game open-and-shut playoff case against the Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA legend Larry Bird stepped down from his post as president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, ceding his spot to former general manager Kevin Pritchard.

Despite a long stretch at the control tower, Bird explained his departure from the job.

“I felt it was time to step away in a full-time capacity,” said Bird in a team release. “This has nothing to do with my health or our team. I’m 60 years old and I want to do other things away from basketball. I will do some scouting for the Pacers, NBA, college, international, do some appearances and stay in a capacity to advise senior basketball management. I love the Pacers, I grew up with the Pacers and admired them from a very young age. I want to thank the fans for their support throughout my career. I also want to thank (owner) Herb Simon for the many years of loyalty and for allowing me to stay with the team in a different role.”

“This is not a shock to me as Larry has always been up front about someday stepping down,” said Simon. “I thank him for all that he has done and am very pleased he is remaining with the Pacers in a different capacity.”

Enter Pritchard, regarded as the most brilliant mind within the executive ranks of the franchise, taking into a pivotal situation and soon to decided what to do with star forward Paul George‘s impending free agency plans.

“I want to thank Herb, Larry and Donnie (Walsh) for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Pritchard. “As someone who grew up in Indiana (born in Bloomington), I’ve always felt the Pacers’ pride. The goal is always going to be the same as it has been through Donnie and Larry: to make this a world-class organization.”

“I have the utmost faith in Kevin taking over,” said Simon. “He has learned from a couple of great ones, Donnie and Larry, while with the Pacers. We all feel he will do a tremendous job.”

Pritchard’s first real test will revolve around one of two things — managing to keep George interested enough to re-sign with the team long-term, or finding a beefy package in exchange for him.

If it is of any consolation for fans, things are bound to take a turn with Bird away from the decision-making, scaling down to a consultant role — though Pritchard’s promotion came with his ultimate blessing.

“I’m very happy Kevin is stepping in and glad another Hoosier is in line to take over this job,” said Bird. “He has a lot of experience from the past five years as a GM and he’s ready to step into a leading role. With us, he has had his own ideas on the draft, players, and now he gets an opportunity to push his basketball abilities to the forefront. His role will be no different than mine was. He will make all final decisions on all basketball-related matters. There can only be one voice and it will be his.”

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