by Kent Sterling
If I were Larry Bird, I wouldn’t want to talk to the media either. It would be difficult to be political, to avoid saying what I believed. What’s the point of talking if not to tell the truth? Not the best tactic for a guy serving as the president of anything.
Bird admitted today during a freewheeling 30-minute conversation that being too honest has gotten him into trouble in the past, and because of that he doesn’t like talking to the media. For the very same reason, the media really does like to listen to Bird.
His take on basketball is always unvarnished and well-informed, and sometimes very funny. He’s immensely likable, and of all the sports figures I’ve come across he is unquestionably the guy I would most like to drink a beer with. I have no time for dishonesty, and I like to laugh. That makes Bird a great guy to spend time with in my book. Unfortunately, he is also the guy least likely to ever see any purpose in issuing that invitation to me.
Today, Bird answered questions about the potential for signing Stephenson (Bird wants Lance back at the right price), whether he felt signing Andrew Bynum was a mistake (it wasn’t), and whether Frank Vogel’s job was ever in jeopardy (it wasn’t).
This is going to be a very interesting off-season for the Pacers and Bird. There are decisions to make almost everywhere, and there is precious little cash under the $77 million luxury tax threshold. That means trades are the only tool available for talent acquisition. Because you have to give to get, the possible construct of the Pacers runs from very similar to where they were at the end the season to radically different.
Stephenson could opt to sign elsewhere. George Hill might be dealt. Roy Hibbert is an unlikely piece in a trade because of his enormous contract and inconsistent results. David West and Paul George are likely the only safe players under contract, although Bird refused to declare anyone as untouchable.
Bird only appeared agitated once, and that was when he addressed an ESPN story that claimed coach Frank Vogel was coaching for his job during the playoffs, and if a return to the Eastern Conference Finals didn’t happen, he was gone. That story seemed ridiculous at the time, and Bird’s angry recollection of the story left little doubt that it was spurious.
Watch the video of highlights to hear it from Larry himself. He addresses Stephenson, Hill, Hibbert, Vogel, the prospect of moving up in the draft, and more.