Bird Blames Players, Not Coach

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You don’t see this very often, a professional sports executive banging on the players (not the coach) for a team’s struggles.

Usually, the coach is the first one to face the firing squad when things go awry. Not in Indiana. Not on Larry Bird‘s watch.

The Pacers’ boss has been giving conventional wisdom the stiff arm since his Indiana State days. So no one should be surprised to hear what he has to say now about his team’s 3-9 slide in their past 12 games. He’s not pointing fingers at interim coach Frank Vogel.

More from my main man Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

“We started off pretty strong with Frank, then they hit a lull. They had some problems internally and it took the wind out of them. That has nothing to do with Frank, that’s on the players. The last 10-12 games, the guys haven’t reacted the way you do as professionals,” said Bird, who was on hand to witness the lackluster 26-point loss at Minnesota on Wednesday.

Team chemistry has been a concern all season due to the abundance of younger players and the absence of a leader.

The Pacers jumped to a 7-1 start under Vogel, capitalizing on a soft portion of the schedule.

Bird said strong starts are not uncommon when a coach is fired during the season.

Things came to a head, however, during and after last weekend’s loss at Houston.

Veterans Danny Granger and Dahntay Jones took exception to comments made to them during the game by rookie Lance Stephenson. Jones had to be restrained from going after Stephenson in the huddle during a second-half timeout.

Things carried over to the locker room after the game when a number of other players were involved in a heated argument.

Stephenson, the team’s second-round draft pick, is talented. But there are questions about the 20-year-old’s maturity on and off the court.

One of the Pacers’ problems is the absence of a player who can mentor Stephenson and help him grow.

“Our problem is internally,” Bird said. “I see what’s going on inside the locker room. I’ve seen a lot of it all year. I tried to address it with different people at the trade deadline.”

Clearly, Bird didn’t get a chance to address all of the problems.


  1. Miguel says:

    Bird is a better owner than michael when you compare their decision makings on the team. Just look at how the teams and organizations are right now.

  2. likedamaster says:

    Bird has been a player, coach, and knows exactly what it takes to win. He has every right to talk, and if he wants to rip the players then so be it.

    • Javier García says:

      I think Bird did put together a good team, as a matter of fact; he put a very good team together in Indiana back in 2005-2006. Then the players BLEW it all off. As you will remind, He assemble in one team:

      Jermaine O´neal (In his prime), Ron Artest (also in his prime), Stephen Jackson (Better player then than now), Jamaal Tinsley (when he was a very respectable point guard), a bunch a good role players and of course they still had in the arsenal the old Reggie Miller and Dale Davis (a little seasoned, but still).

      After “The Brawl” I think he decided this was not the kind of player he wanted and he is still tryng to get a good core of players with a good system. That´s all you really can ask. The rest is truly on the players.

  3. momin says:

    drose should not win mvp he should win most improved and lebron should win mvp

    • Pointguard40 says:

      This has nothing to do with the topic but, drose is definitely the MVP this yr. He consistently carries the bulls in crunch time. They are a great defensive team no doubt, and rose has been the finisher. Without him they don’t win 30 games this season. He makes the clutch plays down the stretch. Lebron is the best player, but drose Is the most valuable to his team. Without Lebron, the heat can rely on dwade and bosh. The bulls couldn’t win running the offense through boozer and deng

      • Pete says:

        Why would lebron win MVP? Miami have been destroyed in head to head matchups against the East’s elite teams, and when they loose Lebron is crying inthe locker room.

        I’m not the biggest Derek Rose fan to be completely honest, but you can’t deny what he brings to his team. You absolutely cannot deny that without Rose the Bulls would be a lottery team.

        Take away Lebron and Bosh, and this Miami team isn’t that different to the one that D Wade but on his shoulders and carried to the Playoffs last year. If you look at how Miami play when both Lebron and Wade are on the court, you could very easilly argue that Miami could be a better ‘team’ if Lebron wasn’t there. Imagine Wade and Bosth together, and then taking Lebron’s 55 million dollar contract to surround them with a group of fantastic role players – you’d have a far better team come playoff time then what they have now.

        Lebron shouldn’t even be in the top10 for MVP voting, no matter how fantastic his individual numbers look. Sometimes Lebron’s versatility is a bad thing – he’s so skilled and versatile that he pretty much can (and does) do everything when hes on the court…and in the process the other 3 or 4 guys on the court tend to start lookin gbored and standing around doing nothing, then it becomes a “Lebron and 4 spectators vs the other team’ event

        MVP is a guy who is most valuable to his team – someone whos contribution to his team ismore valuable then what the numbers show. Someone who’s presence on the court makes everyone around him better. Lebron has the complete opposite effect…he makes everyone around him worse..

  4. BUNBURY says:

    What about Bird blaming himself for putting a bad team together. If they win, they talk about how good they are. bu t when they lose, the’ll blame coaches and players. Just look at Dumars, wasn’t he so good that he gave detroit a championship team. look at them right now. he traded billups, then signed gordon and villanueva, he fired two coaches already, with his third one coming up. When Detroit lost vs the celtics in 2008 in the conference finals he said “i’m tired of losing.” He was tired of losing in the conference finals and prefered winning 25 games a season. They will win 25 games. you have to look at it from the positive side.