Rushville Republican

Sports

June 28, 2013

Larry Bird returns to Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A year away from basketball has rejuvenated Larry Bird.

Now he wants to win a championship.

Bird, the former NBA star who left his job last season after rebuilding the Indiana Pacers and winning the league’s executive of the year award, will be reintroduced to the media Thursday morning as the president of basketball operations. That’s the same job Bird held from 2003-12.

“The year off gave me a chance to reflect, to rest, to take care of some health issues and it re-charged me,” Bird said in a statement issued by the team.

The move is hardly a surprise.

He reportedly met earlier this month with Sacramento about becoming that team’s general manager and had become a regular in recent weeks as the Pacers held public draft workouts, making his imminent return one of the worst kept secrets in Indy. Following Tuesday’s draft workout, general manager Kevin Pritchard even alluded to the fact that Bird appeared on the verge of making a comeback.

Donnie Walsh, who preceded Bird as the Pacers’ top decision-maker then succeeded him last summer as president of basketball operations, will now settle in his new role -- as a team consultant.

Walsh had said all along that if, or when, Bird wanted to return, he would gladly step aside. He has.

“He’s ready and I couldn’t be happier,” Walsh said. “I had a great year last year with this team. It is a great group of guys who have the potential for some great things and to remain a part of this, with two people who I love to work with and respect greatly, is very special.”

Bird has a long track record of success in the NBA.

As a player with Boston, he won three championships, three MVP awards, was twice the MVP of the NBA Finals and retired in 1992 as one of the greatest players in league history.

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