Bird Leaving Pacers … Walsh Returning

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Indiana Pacers’ continued return to prominence will go on without the man who served as the architect of the project.

Hall of Famer and reigning NBA Executive of the Year Larry Bird is leaving the organization, per Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, a move that opens the door for Bird’s predecessor and former boss, Donnie Walsh, to return to Indianapolis as the franchise’s new boss.

Unspecified health issues are reportedly among the reasons Bird is “100 percent sure” he will not stay on president of the team after meeting with Pacers owner Herb Simon today:

Bird, who is dealing with some health issues, will likely take a year off before deciding if he wants to return to any sort of front-office position.

His departure comes just three days after The Star reported that Bird’s predecessor, former CEO Donnie Walsh, is expected to return to the franchise in some capacity. There’s a possibility Walsh will take Bird’s title of president.

Simon always has respected Walsh, who spent 24 years with the Pacers before leaving to become president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks in 2008.

Walsh, who took last year off, attended several of the Pacers’ pre-draft workouts at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Kevin Pritchard, the team’s current director of player personnel, will likely work with Walsh as the team’s new general manager. Bird pushed for Pritchard to become general manager, citing Pritchard’s basketball knowledge.

David Morway, who had been the Pacers’ general manager, is no longer employed by the franchise, according to a source.

Bird’s departure isn’t a stunner, only because there has been speculation that he would walk away at the end of each of his season’s at the helm. The more surprising news is that Walsh is set to return to his old position within the organization where he was beloved by all involved.

Simon remains a staunch Walsh supporter and there wasn’t an employee, player, coach or anyone else, that I’ve ever come across who didn’t heap anything other than glowing praise on Walsh. He spent 24 years with the Pacers, presiding over one of the league’s most consistent playoff programs during the bulk of his tenure.

Bird’s work to help rehabilitate the franchise in the wake of the Malice at the Palace in 2004 came full circle the past two seasons with the team he built making consecutive playoff appearances, including a tense Eastern Conference semifinal series (they actually led 2-1) against the eventual champion Miami Heat.

Bird leaves the Pacers in a prime position to contend for a top-tier perch in the Eastern Conference power structure, somewhere behind the Heat and their Central Division rival Chicago Bulls.


  1. THE truth says:

    Larry will join The Celtics Soon!

  2. yep says:

    I’m not too sure about Walsh anymore. I know he has built good teams before, but he left us in the bad cap situation with sub-par talent when he left. Just worried that he has lost his touch.

    I think Larry may have also left because the team is unwilling to go after restricted free agents. This team is one big piece away from being elite but I doubt the franchise is willing to shell out the money necessary to bring that piece in.

  3. Dew says:

    The Pacers could of not been left in any better hands than Donnie Walsh. Hope Larry Legend gets better with the time off to live a more comfortable life. Glad this worked out for everyone involved the way it is shaping out to.

  4. MackDaddy says:

    All round nice guy, dont think there will be anyone saying negative things from this story.
    Bird is an all-time legend, both on the court and off.

    He’ll take a year off but I’m sure his competitive spirit will bring him back to the game in some fashion.

  5. bu says:

    Bird is a true legend!! How many achieved his mark being MVP as a player, coach, & business executive??? He’s damn smart, determined & clearly one to make others better!!!

    All the best & get well soon!

  6. James says:

    We all love you Larry and wish you the best in your retirement and in dealing with your medical issue. You’ve provided me so many great basketball memories over the years – either through your playing, coaching or building of the next East powerhouse. All I can say is Thank You – It would not have been the same with out you, or nearly as memorable. As Magic once said, there will never be another Larry Bird.


    Get well soon Larry!!!

  8. CELTICS PRIDE says:

    Larry ”Legend” Bird did his best as always.

  9. Can Bilen says:

    Come to Boston Larry! We’ve missed you alot and there is noone better than you who can rebuild the C’s after the big 3 era. Please come to Boston and let us get rid of the terrible Ainge!

    • wadefan says:

      ainge put together your heralded big 3.. how does that make him terrible?

      • Can Bilen says:

        Well he may have put them together, but he failed in every other season that followed, He signed terrible bench players and sent all the good bench guys we had like Nate or Tony Allen, let’s not forget the terrible trade he did for Jeff Green, who did not even play the entire season last year.

  10. milesfan says:

    Bird did a fantatstic job…hope his health issues turn around

  11. imad akel says:

    those pacers are one step forward and 2 steps back all the time…

    remember when they had jermaine oneal and ron artest and that team actually had potential?

    why do they do this…

  12. Mino says:

    Bird was great and deserved that executive of the year 100%

  13. imad akel says:

    those pacers are one step forward and 2 steps back all the time….

  14. Evan says:

    I am sad to see Larry leave, but the Pacers cannot let this get them down. They have an incredibly bright future–with Roy Hibbert likely staying in Indy, and George Hill too, (along with a new FA?), the Pacers are ready to take the 2nd seed in the East. Chicago is talking a step back.

  15. Ernie says:

    Hope Larry is OK health-wise. Will be praying for him.

  16. paulofc says:

    This is a huge step back

  17. pacer fan says:

    If this dude breaks up this chemistry, i’m leaving ( fan since 1990 !!!!!!!!) !!! Hope he can bring in a good veteran to help this chemistry get better !!!

  18. Wow! says:

    How could this happen to Larry Bird he made the Pacers so good but it’s great to have Donnie Walsh to return. Well done Larry Get well

  19. WOW says:

    I’m sad to see Larry Legend leave but I’m thrilled to see Donnie Walsh return to the Pacers.

  20. Rams says:

    God Bless Larry Legend!!