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Larry Bird Talks The Hot Topics In The NBA
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On July 8, 2013 @ 3:54 pm In NBA Summer League | No Comments
Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations and NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird held court at the 2013 Orlando Summer League, covering a variety of topics from the Brooklyn Nets hiring of Jason Kidd, the state of the Boston Celtics, and of course the Pacers. Below you can find a transcript of his session with the media:
On Kidd coaching the Nets
LB: “I just seen him yesterday. It’s not as easy as it looks to tell you the truth. I have even more respect for the coaches I had over the years. It’s a tough gig. It’s a lot of hours, it’s tough, it’s grinding and it was easier when you had the ball in your hands. He’ll find that out.”
Magic said one of the hardest parts for him was being such a great player while you’re playing and seeing guys not live up to it.
LB: “You see things as a coach out there and ‘Say how’d he miss that guy wide open?’ You always tell your guys push, keep pushing, set better picks. You do it as a coach and don’t get through like you did with magic or myself telling my teammates to do it.”
Does it help to have veteran players?
LB: “Yes. No question. I had it too. I had a couple young guys but they weren’t going to play much. I had Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson, Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, guys who had been there. The transition should be smooth.”
Does it help with motivation?
LB: “Yes. A lot of them have been there. They know what they’re trying to accomplish. They put together a tough squad. He’ll just manage them well and like you said, he’s got two great assistants. He should be fine.”
Concern about the Nets?
LB: “We know Chicago is going to be better. Obviously Brooklyn should be a lot better. We thought Brooklyn beat us every time last year, so they’re only going to be stronger. We just have to get better ourselves, and hopefully compete at a high level.”
How did they year off help?
LB: “I feel better. I had some injuries and mentally I felt better. It was nine-straight years. Donnie felt like he wanted to come back and I didn’t know if I was going to come back this year. They continued to call, leave messages, I spoke to the owner and Donnie [Walsh] numerous times and if you’re going to do it better do it now because it’s not going to get any easier down the road.
Expectations are higher now
LB: “We like that. That’s what we play for. We want high expectations. We want to do well. We want to be on a level where we can compete every night.”
You were on a Celtic team that rode it out, Danny Ainge has chosen to make a move at a certain point. When you look back at that Celtic team, do you think it was right to drag it out to the end?
LB: “Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing. He’s had great success. He’s won a championship. I never doubt Danny Ainge, I only doubt him when he had the ball in his hands with three seconds to go, but not in the position he has now. Danny does a good job. You do get older, you can’t beat father time. I’m sure things will work out.”
Was it hard being on that team, seeing Kevin [McHale] play on that broken foot?
LB: “It was tough. I knew I was on my way out. I was going to leave a few years earlier but Gavin talked me into staying. It was tough. There’s always talk about should Red have traded us early, but there was some loyalty there in that organization and he decided to keep us.”
Is it hard to have that sentimental mentality?
LB: “You always have to look out for the franchise. You always do.”
Rough as a Celtic to not see Paul [Pierce] not finish his career there?
LB: “I would have loved to see it. I have a lot of respect for Paul and what he accomplished there, but who says he’s not going to play another four years? It’s a tough situation.”
Do you think those guys have a lot left?
LB: “It’s hard for me to tell because I know they both played more minutes than I ever played, but they’ve both been pretty healthy throughout their careers. They haven’t had the major injuries that I had throughout my career. I think they have plenty left. The way they’ll be coached and the bench that they have, they’ll pick their spots but when the time comes they’ll be there.”
Where does Paul rank with Celtics all-time?
LB: “He’s one of the better ones to ever come through there. He really is.”
Kevin Durant said you talked to him, what was that conversation like?
LB: “I don’t like to get into all that, but I do get texts from players around the league. I actually hear more from them than I do my own players. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I do try to give advice to players around the league. If they ask my opinion I’ll give it. Last year since I was out I was in touch with a lot of players.”
Do you see your team having made gains against the HEAT in the year you were away? Is the gap closed?
LB: “The HEAT is the HEAT. There’s only one winner, they’ve won the last two years. Everyone else is trying to catch them. You’ve seen a lot of changes throughout the league. A lot of the deals are not done yet, but teams are trying to load up and trying to compete with the HEAT. But our team did get better. We were a young team. Lance Stephenson got better, Paul George got better and we hope to continue.”
Lack of depth in the series against the HEAT seemed to hurt you guys. Do the potential moves help that?
LB: “We’ll see about the moves. Nothing has been signed yet. We’re trying to, no matter what happens, we have to improve our bench and we have to do it in a way that will protect the leads we had this year.”
Is the NBA head coaching leap harder for a guy who hasn’t been in the NBA?
LB: “I don’t know if it’s harder. They’re all tough. I don’t know Brad Stevens personally but I know he did a good job in Indianapolis. The people really like him there. I’m not surprised because he wasn’t, but he had a guy sniffing around the NBA to see what was out there. I’m not surprised by it. I think he’ll be fine. I think he’ll do fine. It just takes time. It takes time for everybody.”
Did you watch a lot of Butler games?
LB: “I’ve watched a lot of IU and Butler games, yeah.”
What did you notice from Brad?
LB: “He’s very patient, he doesn’t get too excited. When the players watch their coach and they don’t get excited, they play with a demeanor to keep pushing. He’s going to be alright. It carries over to his players and that’s why they got so far in the last few years.”
Did you envision Paul George’s arc would be so huge?
LB: “He told me when we drafted him he’d be an All-Star in three years and he was. I don’t have many players walk into my office and tell me how good he’s going to be but he did.”
Was that cocky?
LB: “He’s one of the nicest young men I’ve ever seen. I’ve been in the league 30 years and he’s one of the best human beings to ever come through here. It was not cocky, it was just him telling me he was going to work as hard as he could to improve every year.
Why is avoiding the luxury tax so important?
LB: “Cause we can’t afford it. It’s like buying a used car and a new car. If you have the money to buy a used one you better buy a used one. Our owner went out and did everything he could this year so we could be close to the tax. We just can’t fight the tax. It’s always going to be a disadvantage for us. I feel bad for Oklahoma. They had a great team and they had to make a trade. They were right there but we’re going to have to do the same in the future. We’re always fighting an uphill battle with revenues, but that’s part of who we are. We do the best we can with what we have.”
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