Bird Chases Heat, Still Never Feels It

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MANILA, Philippines – Fish swim. Frogs jump.

It’s good to know that two decades after his retirement, another constant in the world is that Larry Bird still flaps his wings and soars with his quick one-liners and trademark cockiness.

When asked by a Filipino reporter whether he feels more pressure as a Pacers executive than he did during his Hall of Fame career with the Celtics, Bird grinned.

“Pressure? I don’t know what that is,” Bird said to a roomful of laughter. “Obviously, you never seen me play.”

It wasn’t quite walking into the locker room prior to the 3-point Shootout at the 1986 All-Star Weekend in Dallas and asking the rest of the field, “Who’s comin’ in second?” But it was a peek at the old Bird who’s back in his role as president of basketball operations and wants his Pacers to take the next step after pushing Miami to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

“Right now, the Miami Heat are the best team,” Bird said. “They’ve won two years in a row. They’ve been to the Finals three years in a row and until somebody beats them, they’re still the best team.

“What we’re trying to do is build a team that can compete on a nightly level…We have a lot of young players. I don’t compare this team to (my) Celtics teams because it’s a completely different style that we play. But I do think we’re good enough, we’re deep enough to compete for a championship.

“Obviously last year they got to the Eastern Conference finals and Game 7 against Miami, but until we make the next step we’re not there. I do like our chances.

“We’ve got a good starting five, but our bench has got to play better than it did last year. I know how hard it is to win these championships. It’s not easy. But we do have a group of good guys that play together and pull for one another. I think things we just have to get a little lucky.

“I really believe that we’re built for the playoffs. But when the playoffs come, we’ve got to be ready because there are gonna be challenges facing us.

“It’s not easy out there. Chicago got Derrick (Rose) back. The Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks and they’re all good. And, of course, there’s Miami. It’s a challenge, no question about it.”

Bird said he believes the necessary pieces are in place for the Pacers to go the distance, especially since they have added to their depth over the summer with three key moves.

“I think we’re pretty much set where we are right now,” he said. Last year, with the performance of our bench I think they (Miami) hurt us by not being able to score the basketball.

“We got C.J. (Watson) a good back-up point guard, Chris Copeland from New York, a dead-eye shooter, and of course Luis Scola. He’s a little bit older now, but for what we need, he’s perfect. Just three moves that we made we think are going to make us stronger. It looks good on paper, but we’ll see what happens. Look, I know how hard it is to win a championship. ”

Now, as then, Larry Bird just never feels the pressure.

18 Comments

  1. James M from Canada says:

    Larry was, is, and always will be …… the man. Long live the basketball jesus.

    GO PACERS!!

  2. Canadian Pride says:

    Love the pacers, hope they go far just interesting to see how the dynamic will work out with granger coming back. I still think they should have traded him for a good point guard and some good three point shooters and allow George to dominate and become the star that he is. I think having Granger coming off the bench if he accepts will be the best case scenario.

  3. Michael McBride says:

    MGEE awesome point jimmer would flourish there. Im from sacramento and i don’t know why the hell we aren’t utilizing him. There is something we dont behind the scense im sure of it. he has a little trouble with his ball handling under pressure and OK defense. not we got Isaiah douglas and vasquez. wtf?! jimmer just sitting there.

  4. Marc says:

    Good luck to the Pacers on beating the Heat! Ha..Ha…Ha………

  5. Game I Love says:

    Huge Pacers fan! I hope the Pacers make the next jump to the Finals next year. The window for small market teams winning a championship is so short.

    That being said, I hope Bird renews his pursuit of Rajon Rondo before the trade deadline. A big part of the problem for the Pacers against Miami, was the Heat’s swarming defense. Currently, the Pacers do not have a true point guard. Oftentimes, there offense gets pushed out beyond the 3 point line while the shot clock ticks down. Rondo would push this team over the top. Offer the Cs Granger’s expiring contract, Stephenson, and a future first. Take back Rondo and Lee. With Rondo, Hill, George, West, and Hibbert – I think the Pacers could hang their first NBA championship banner in BLF.

  6. Larry Bird ( http://www.hostnumber.com/larry-bird-career-stats.html ) was a great player and is a great executive. He was even a great coach, leading the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals in ’98 and Finals in 2000. Great basketball mind who can do no wrong.

  7. kams says:

    luck,thats the only thing that the pacers need in order to win nba ring,they have all the tools to derail the heat.best wishes

  8. dave says:

    No reason for this team to lose. The only thing that will stop them is their confidence, and a little bit of confidence lost or over-confident would give a team like Miami enough to squeak out another playoff series victory

  9. mojo says:

    Larry is the saviuor for Pacers…I would reccomend to add one more veteran for guards someone from Pistons 2004 – Chauncy or RIP would be perfect

  10. Theo says:

    “I think we’re pretty much set where we are right now,” he said. Last year, with the performance of our bench I think they (Miami) hurt us by not being able to score the basketball.

    I think Bird is referring to the Pacers bench here, not Miami.

    Good read, though.

  11. DONT KNOW WHO YOU ARE says:

    What a move in the offseason by Bird. Pacers will definitely be the “real” team that can prevent the Heats from another championship.

  12. Michael Peloton says:

    Larry bird is a true winner and competitor. Larry bird could do no wrong in my opinion.

  13. Pacers Fan says:

    I hope they can pull a trade for Rondo, Jordan Hill and other key reserves (Odom?)

  14. bu says:

    Bird sees challenges & not pressure. And he’s good at managing & somewhat manipulating his opponent’s minds on the court. Super smart guy indeed, as a player, coach, executive. Rarely you see one like this in the NBA.

  15. m gee says:

    Larry you the man…

    Now go trade for Jimmer Fredette and become champions..

  16. Bob M says:

    Larry Legend did a great job in the off season. He got some nice scoring and CJ Watson is a tested pro. Guard play let them down in the playoffs. However, if Big Roy gets in foul trouble, it will mean trouble for the Pacers.

    The East is going to be a slug fest this year.