View Full Version : O'Brien answers the call {Boston Globe }

Frank Slade
06-04-2007, 10:50 AM
I thought this another great article from the Boston media who of course scoop our local media time after time. Mods feel free to merge if needed.

O'Brien answers the call

Bird knows this coach won't just phone it in
By Peter May | June 3, 2007

You wonder how the Indiana Pacers were able to keep the Jim O'Brien situation under wraps? He and Pacers basketball boss Larry Bird never met during the interview process. Everything was done over the phone, which meant the only people who knew what was going on were Bird, O'Brien, and Homeland Security.

It would have been one thing if I had no history," O'Brien said Friday from Indianapolis, less than 24 hours after being introduced as the next coach of the Pacers, his third NBA team.

"But I didn't have to tell him in person how my teams would play. They have a library of film on that. They know my vision.
"Larry had talked to Dick [Harter] before he called me and we had maybe four or five phone conversations, which was a part of the interview process."

O'Brien had been out of the NBA since the 76ers dismissed him following the 2004-05 season. The Sixers made the playoffs that year with a 43-39 record, a 10-game improvement. They had not made the playoffs the year before O'Brien arrived and they have not made them since O'Brien left. Yet the Sixers wasted no time in firing O'Brien -- he knew it was coming for a while -- and he acknowledged that his reputation took a hit, mostly for non-basketball reasons.

The rap was that he had been too arrogant, too uppity, and alienated anyone and everyone in Philadelphia.

"Ridiculous," he said. But that was what he heard, and it was out there and needed to be dealt with.

Whether it's justified or not, when you get fired from a job, you have to be concerned about your reputation," O'Brien said. "But there were enough people who were with us in Boston and in Philadelphia who saw us turn things around there.

"I am who I am. I'm not the most charismatic personality. I think it takes at least a year to get to know a person. If that was what was being said in Philadelphia, about alienating people, I would respond, 'I've been in this business for 30 years. Talk to the people who knew me for the other 29.' "

Bird certainly was not bothered by whatever transpired in Philadelphia. For starters, he knows Harter, who will accompany O'Brien to Indiana. Harter was an assistant on Bird's staff when Bird coached the Pacers and was on O'Brien's staff in Boston. Bird and O'Brien have chatted occasionally over the years but did not really know one another. But Bird came away impressed by O'Brien's discipline and vision after their phone chats over a 10-day period.

"Discipline is always a part of anything," Bird told reporters at the hiring announcement. "It's a big part of how you practice, how you play, how you conduct yourself. We're moving in the right direction here and we've got the right guy to do that

Page 2 of 5 --The hiring of O'Brien and Harter will jump-start the "whither Jermaine O'Neal?" discourse even more, if possible. O'Brien said, "Jermaine is an All-Star. He's one of the great shot-blockers in the league and he is a force inside. But if Larry decides to trade him, let's just say that no one is going to pull the wool over Larry Bird's eyes."

O'Brien said he's also confident that he will be part of the personnel process and cited the presence of Bird ("Who wants to win more than he does?") and the venerable Donnie Walsh as an ideal setup.

Whoever they are, the Pacers of 2007-08 (and Jamaal Tinsley is another who is, as they say, available) will be tough going for O'Brien. But he has never missed the playoffs when coaching a team for an entire season.

He did his homework; he noted how Indy finished 6-23, a stretch that included an 11-game losing streak. He likes the spacing possibilities with Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, and Mike Dunleavy. And, he emphasized without needing to, defense will be his primary focus.

"Any time you take over a team that did not make the playoffs, it's a challenge," he said. "You have to find a way to prepare your team to win. And I think the culture and ethic that Larry wants to create is going to pay dividends."

There could be a Boston Redux look to the Indiana bench if O'Brien persuades Lester Conner (currently with the Bucks) and Frank Vogel to join him. Even if they don't come, O'Brien is happy to be back on the bench -- period. He has been away for two years, the NBA definition of "out of sight, out of mind," and -- gulp -- had actually turned to writing for ESPN.com.

But this is indisputably Bird's hire, and his neck is on the line as well. The Pacers were a train wreck last season and fans stayed away from Conseco Fieldhouse in droves. Winning is the first step in getting them back. O'Brien's track record suggests that is a distinct possibility

Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/articles/2007/06/03/obrien_answers_the_call/?page=2)

06-04-2007, 11:50 AM
When they say "But this is indisputably Birds hire" Its almost like they are trying to pretend Rick was not indisputably Birds hire.

06-04-2007, 12:09 PM
When they say "But this is indisputably Birds hire" Its almost like they are trying to pretend Rick was not indisputably Birds hire.

I'm more than willing to heap blame on Donnie for hiring Larry in the first place.

Major Cold
06-04-2007, 12:14 PM
Didn't SVG have tape too. Why did he have two interviews then?

06-04-2007, 12:59 PM
Didn't SVG have tape too. Why did he have two interviews then?

does stan look like a guy that would turn down a free dinner or two?