by Kent Sterling
Larry Bird has been very busy turning over the back end of the roster this month. He said rebuilding the second unit would be his second priority after re-signing starting power forward David West, and he can now take a deep breath as those two items on his to-do-list have been checked off.
If Bird hung a help wanted sign in front of Conseco Fieldhouse, right above “Help Wanted”, “Only Men Need Apply”. It would be written in ink.
Gone are Tyler Hansbrough, D.J. Augustin, Gerald “Chuck ‘Em” Green, Miles Plumlee, and Jeff Pendergraph. They have been replaced by Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Chris Copeland, and Solomon Hill. All have a clarity in their eyes, and steel in their games.
The NBA is filled with physical beasts who are proudly clinging to adolescent ideals. That may work elsewhere, but not at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and not for Bird.
Scola was introduced today to the media, and he is another guy who is a professional basketball player and man. There is an honesty to Scola that is palpable as he talks about his experiences in basketball and hope for the future as his career begins its third act.
He talks about winning as the holiest of grails, and craves the opportunity to contribute to a champion. His eyes lit up when discussing the silver medal his Argentina team won at the World Championships here in 2002, and the Olympic Gold he won in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Bird pulled the coup of the year in acquiring Scola for Green and Plumlee, and may have set the Pacers up for a championship season. The 2013-2014 season will have to play out for fans to find out.
What we do know is that Scola is a healthy and focused man willing to do what it takes to contribute, and that puts him in good company.
Listen to the way Scola becomes animated when he mentions winning in the sound below from Scola today: