The Rules of Pacers Digest

Hello everyone,

Whether your are a long standing forum member or whether you have just registered today, it's a good idea to read and review the rules below so that you have a very good idea of what to expect when you come to Pacers Digest.

A quick note to new members: Your posts will not immediately show up when you make them. An administrator has to approve at least your first post before the forum software will later upgrade your account to the status of a fully-registered member. This usually happens within a couple of hours or so after your post(s) is/are approved, so you may need to be a little patient at first.

Why do we do this? So that it's more difficult for spammers (be they human or robot) to post, and so users who are banned cannot immediately re-register and start dousing people with verbal flames.

Below are the rules of Pacers Digest. After you have read them, you will have a very good sense of where we are coming from, what we expect, what we don't want to see, and how we react to things.

Rule #1

Pacers Digest is intended to be a place to discuss basketball without having to deal with the kinds of behaviors or attitudes that distract people from sticking with the discussion of the topics at hand. These unwanted distractions can come in many forms, and admittedly it can sometimes be tricky to pin down each and every kind that can rear its ugly head, but we feel that the following examples and explanations cover at least a good portion of that ground and should at least give people a pretty good idea of the kinds of things we actively discourage:

"Anyone who __________ is a liar / a fool / an idiot / a blind homer / has their head buried in the sand / a blind hater / doesn't know basketball / doesn't watch the games"

"People with intelligence will agree with me when I say that __________"

"Only stupid people think / believe / do ___________"

"I can't wait to hear something from PosterX when he/she sees that **insert a given incident or current event that will have probably upset or disappointed PosterX here**"

"He/she is just delusional"

"This thread is stupid / worthless / embarrassing"

"I'm going to take a moment to point and / laugh at PosterX / GroupOfPeopleY who thought / believed *insert though/belief here*"

"Remember when PosterX said OldCommentY that no longer looks good? "

In general, if a comment goes from purely on topic to something 'ad hominem' (personal jabs, personal shots, attacks, flames, however you want to call it, towards a person, or a group of people, or a given city/state/country of people), those are most likely going to be found intolerable.

We also dissuade passive aggressive behavior. This can be various things, but common examples include statements that are basically meant to imply someone is either stupid or otherwise incapable of holding a rational conversation. This can include (but is not limited to) laughing at someone's conclusions rather than offering an honest rebuttal, asking people what game they were watching, or another common problem is Poster X will say "that player isn't that bad" and then Poster Y will say something akin to "LOL you think that player is good". We're not going to tolerate those kinds of comments out of respect for the community at large and for the sake of trying to just have an honest conversation.

Now, does the above cover absolutely every single kind of distraction that is unwanted? Probably not, but you should by now have a good idea of the general types of things we will be discouraging. The above examples are meant to give you a good feel for / idea of what we're looking for. If something new or different than the above happens to come along and results in the same problem (that being, any other attitude or behavior that ultimately distracts from actually just discussing the topic at hand, or that is otherwise disrespectful to other posters), we can and we will take action to curb this as well, so please don't take this to mean that if you managed to technically avoid saying something exactly like one of the above examples that you are then somehow off the hook.

That all having been said, our goal is to do so in a generally kind and respectful way, and that doesn't mean the moment we see something we don't like that somebody is going to be suspended or banned, either. It just means that at the very least we will probably say something about it, quite possibly snipping out the distracting parts of the post in question while leaving alone the parts that are actually just discussing the topics, and in the event of a repeating or excessive problem, then we will start issuing infractions to try to further discourage further repeat problems, and if it just never seems to improve, then finally suspensions or bans will come into play. We would prefer it never went that far, and most of the time for most of our posters, it won't ever have to.

A slip up every once and a while is pretty normal, but, again, when it becomes repetitive or excessive, something will be done. Something occasional is probably going to be let go (within reason), but when it starts to become habitual or otherwise a pattern, odds are very good that we will step in.

There's always a small minority that like to push people's buttons and/or test their own boundaries with regards to the administrators, and in the case of someone acting like that, please be aware that this is not a court of law, but a private website run by people who are simply trying to do the right thing as they see it. If we feel that you are a special case that needs to be dealt with in an exceptional way because your behavior isn't explicitly mirroring one of our above examples of what we generally discourage, we can and we will take atypical action to prevent this from continuing if you are not cooperative with us.

Also please be aware that you will not be given a pass simply by claiming that you were 'only joking,' because quite honestly, when someone really is just joking, for one thing most people tend to pick up on the joke, including the person or group that is the target of the joke, and for another thing, in the event where an honest joke gets taken seriously and it upsets or angers someone, the person who is truly 'only joking' will quite commonly go out of his / her way to apologize and will try to mend fences. People who are dishonest about their statements being 'jokes' do not do so, and in turn that becomes a clear sign of what is really going on. It's nothing new.

In any case, quite frankly, the overall quality and health of the entire forum's community is more important than any one troublesome user will ever be, regardless of exactly how a problem is exhibiting itself, and if it comes down to us having to make a choice between you versus the greater health and happiness of the entire community, the community of this forum will win every time.

Lastly, there are also some posters, who are generally great contributors and do not otherwise cause any problems, who sometimes feel it's their place to provoke or to otherwise 'mess with' that small minority of people described in the last paragraph, and while we possibly might understand why you might feel you WANT to do something like that, the truth is we can't actually tolerate that kind of behavior from you any more than we can tolerate the behavior from them. So if we feel that you are trying to provoke those other posters into doing or saying something that will get themselves into trouble, then we will start to view you as a problem as well, because of the same reason as before: The overall health of the forum comes first, and trying to stir the pot with someone like that doesn't help, it just makes it worse. Some will simply disagree with this philosophy, but if so, then so be it because ultimately we have to do what we think is best so long as it's up to us.

If you see a problem that we haven't addressed, the best and most appropriate course for a forum member to take here is to look over to the left of the post in question. See underneath that poster's name, avatar, and other info, down where there's a little triangle with an exclamation point (!) in it? Click that. That allows you to report the post to the admins so we can definitely notice it and give it a look to see what we feel we should do about it. Beyond that, obviously it's human nature sometimes to want to speak up to the poster in question who has bothered you, but we would ask that you try to refrain from doing so because quite often what happens is two or more posters all start going back and forth about the original offending post, and suddenly the entire thread is off topic or otherwise derailed. So while the urge to police it yourself is understandable, it's best to just report it to us and let us handle it. Thank you!

All of the above is going to be subject to a case by case basis, but generally and broadly speaking, this should give everyone a pretty good idea of how things will typically / most often be handled.

Rule #2

If the actions of an administrator inspire you to make a comment, criticism, or express a concern about it, there is a wrong place and a couple of right places to do so.

The wrong place is to do so in the original thread in which the administrator took action. For example, if a post gets an infraction, or a post gets deleted, or a comment within a larger post gets clipped out, in a thread discussing Paul George, the wrong thing to do is to distract from the discussion of Paul George by adding your off topic thoughts on what the administrator did.

The right places to do so are:

A) Start a thread about the specific incident you want to talk about on the Feedback board. This way you are able to express yourself in an area that doesn't throw another thread off topic, and this way others can add their two cents as well if they wish, and additionally if there's something that needs to be said by the administrators, that is where they will respond to it.

B) Send a private message to the administrators, and they can respond to you that way.

If this is done the wrong way, those comments will be deleted, and if it's a repeating problem then it may also receive an infraction as well.

Rule #3

If a poster is bothering you, and an administrator has not or will not deal with that poster to the extent that you would prefer, you have a powerful tool at your disposal, one that has recently been upgraded and is now better than ever: The ability to ignore a user.

When you ignore a user, you will unfortunately still see some hints of their existence (nothing we can do about that), however, it does the following key things:

A) Any post they make will be completely invisible as you scroll through a thread.

B) The new addition to this feature: If someone QUOTES a user you are ignoring, you do not have to read who it was, or what that poster said, unless you go out of your way to click on a link to find out who it is and what they said.

To utilize this feature, from any page on Pacers Digest, scroll to the top of the page, look to the top right where it says 'Settings' and click that. From the settings page, look to the left side of the page where it says 'My Settings', and look down from there until you see 'Edit Ignore List' and click that. From here, it will say 'Add a Member to Your List...' Beneath that, click in the text box to the right of 'User Name', type in or copy & paste the username of the poster you are ignoring, and once their name is in the box, look over to the far right and click the 'Okay' button. All done!

Rule #4

Regarding infractions, currently they carry a value of one point each, and that point will expire in 31 days. If at any point a poster is carrying three points at the same time, that poster will be suspended until the oldest of the three points expires.

Rule #5

When you share or paste content or articles from another website, you must include the URL/link back to where you found it, who wrote it, and what website it's from. Said content will be removed if this doesn't happen.

An example:

If I copy and paste an article from the Indianapolis Star website, I would post something like this:
Title of the Article
Author's Name
Indianapolis Star

Rule #6

We cannot tolerate illegal videos on Pacers Digest. This means do not share any links to them, do not mention any websites that host them or link to them, do not describe how to find them in any way, and do not ask about them. Posts doing anything of the sort will be removed, the offenders will be contacted privately, and if the problem becomes habitual, you will be suspended, and if it still persists, you will probably be banned.

The legal means of watching or listening to NBA games are NBA League Pass Broadband (for US, or for International; both cost money) and NBA Audio League Pass (which is free). Look for them on

Rule #7

Provocative statements in a signature, or as an avatar, or as the 'tagline' beneath a poster's username (where it says 'Member' or 'Administrator' by default, if it is not altered) are an unwanted distraction that will more than likely be removed on sight. There can be shades of gray to this, but in general this could be something political or religious that is likely going to provoke or upset people, or otherwise something that is mean-spirited at the expense of a poster, a group of people, or a population.

It may or may not go without saying, but this goes for threads and posts as well, particularly when it's not made on the off-topic board (Market Square).

We do make exceptions if we feel the content is both innocuous and unlikely to cause social problems on the forum (such as wishing someone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Easter), and we also also make exceptions if such topics come up with regards to a sports figure (such as the Lance Stephenson situation bringing up discussions of domestic abuse and the law, or when Jason Collins came out as gay and how that lead to some discussion about gay rights).

However, once the discussion seems to be more/mostly about the political issues instead of the sports figure or his specific situation, the thread is usually closed.

Rule #8

We prefer self-restraint and/or modesty when making jokes or off topic comments in a sports discussion thread. They can be fun, but sometimes they derail or distract from a topic, and we don't want to see that happen. If we feel it is a problem, we will either delete or move those posts from the thread.

Rule #9

Generally speaking, we try to be a "PG-13" rated board, and we don't want to see sexual content or similarly suggestive content. Vulgarity is a more muddled issue, though again we prefer things to lean more towards "PG-13" than "R". If we feel things have gone too far, we will step in.

Rule #10

We like small signatures, not big signatures. The bigger the signature, the more likely it is an annoying or distracting signature.

Rule #11

Do not advertise anything without talking about it with the administrators first. This includes advertising with your signature, with your avatar, through private messaging, and/or by making a thread or post.
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So many fun articles out of New York

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  • So many fun articles out of New York

    Here are just a few of them. Enjoy



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    February 3, 2004 -- HOOP DU JOUR

    WHEN Orlando was awarded an expansion franchise in the late '80s, its driving force was Pat Williams, celebrated for his promotional/personnel ingenuity as GM of the Bulls and 76ers. Upon kick-starting the Magic, his right hand man was John Gabriel, fairly fresh from his landscaping business on the Jersey shore; since there wasn't much call for grass-cutting in the winter, he'd begun a one-man video company, which is how he became a Sixer, hired part-time on the cheap by junior executive John Nash.

    Early in his team's construction, Gabriel drove to Miami on an information-gathering weekend visit with Billy Cunningham, yet another Pfond Philly connection. The Heat had gotten their NBA license to play for real in '89, a year ahead of the Magic, and there was plenty to talk about. "I was really enjoying the process of putting together a franchise from the ground up," Gabriel recently recalled. "I was having a ball. No problem was too big that it couldn't be solved."

    Cunningham was happy to hear it. Gabriel's passion was contagious. On the other hand, years as a professional player and coach had malformed him into a certified cynic. He counseled the value of being prepared for the inevitable.

    "Things are great now," Billy C alerted his young friend whose time as Magic GM is dwindling to a precious few months, "but always remember to keep the weed whacker gassed up."


    Eddie Griffin may have left Seton Hall after one season, but evidently he came into the NBA well-schooled in certain base, er, basic skills. Unfortunately for his violatin' curfew carcass, Houston's police force has been back-doored once too often, I suspect; they anticipated the Rehab Forward tryin' to run the Betty Ford Clinic on 'em.

    Listen up, high-school seniors and college undergrads; if you're able to compete with your elders, Griffin's law breaking is another good reason to declare early (earlier, earliest) for the draft.


    Shaq has really done it this time. His f-troop tirade on live TV against the game officials (wonder if it'll wind up over the Delta Center P.A. as an obscene phone call?) did jot go unpunished. Last night's one-game suspension versus the Pacers is the easy part. I'd hate to be Shaq when his mother gets into his ear. . . .

    Sunday's Newark Star-Ledger branded my report (Al Harrington asking to be traded at least twice) nonsense, and accused Isiah Thomas of planting the small forward's acute Knicks interest in this space. As I learned from working with Charles Barkley, you can't win an argument with the ignorant. The author would better serve his readers, I submit, if he actually had a source other than the Indy beat writer who's made a career of getting beat on Pacer stories by The Post.

    Oh, yeah, Harrington was quoted saying he's happy as a Skylark, er, Pacer being part of a winning team in Indy. What a shock he failed to validate his dissatisfaction with being the sixth man! Meanwhile, in case the Ledger would like to hear the tape, agent Andy Miller admitted to me the discussions with management, indeed, took place, which, of course, I'd already confirmed long before his frantic phone call. . . .

    This just in: The Nets are in love with Vin Baker. And Griffin claimed dibs on the Brooklyn House of Detention.


    Larry Bird (left) and Isiah Thomas.
    - NYP: C. Wenzelberg
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    February 3, 2004 -- A still-bitter Knick boss Isiah Thomas shot down Larry Bird's contention that the two of them couldn't work together in Indiana, saying Larry Legend falsely accused him of lacking communication skills and work ethic during their six weeks together last summer.
    Bird's Pacers and Thomas' Knicks butt heads tonight at the Garden.

    Thomas, fired as Pacer coach on Aug. 27, will be in his trademark spot in the tunnel. Bird, whose Pacers lead the Eastern Conference with a 35-13 record with new coach Rick Carlisle, is on a college-scouting trip.

    When asked if Bird's work-ethic charge had racial overtones, Thomas remarked, "I'm not going to get into that. Everything I've accomplished in life in the sporting arena and outside the sporting arena, you couldn't have the type of success without working hard for it.

    "I've never, ever been accused of that. I have never, ever had a problem with communication. Those things I was accused of in Indiana, never, ever been associated with myself."

    Bird was hired as Pacers GM in mid-July and fired Isiah on Aug. 27, after free agent Jermaine O'Neal re-signed.

    Thomas' Pacers were knocked out of the first round three straight years but he believes that if he still were there, he'd be reaping the rewards of a club he built.

    Thomas said the club was too young to win a title last season and had too many personal tragedies (O'Neal's stepfather shot himself, Jamaal Tinsley's mother died).

    During a 45-minute interview yesterday, Thomas hinted he got hateful e-mails and letters from Indiana fans and wouldn't deny they were racially charged.

    "The basketball stuff was good," Isiah said. "The other stuff, I would have to lie to you and I'm not going to lie to you."

    Pacers fans have been accused of racially charged heckling Allen Iverson, Latrell Sprewell and Patrick Ewing. When asked about his mail since joining the Knicks Dec. 22, Isiah said, "The fan mail and e-mail has been extremely positive. They've only talked about the game."

    Thomas knows he can't compete with Bird in Indiana, even if he won an NCAA championship in the basketball-mad state and Bird fell short.

    "He's the hometown kid who's come home and made good," Isiah said, "Even though I went to Indiana University and won the championship and he lost, I think the hometown guy will always get the nod. I was still seen as a person from Chicago."

    Bird and Thomas' rivalry date to the 1980s, when Thomas said the former Celtic would be just another good player if he were black. Bird declined comment, but Indiana president Donnie Walsh supports Bird's decision.

    "There was nothing happening between them [last summer] to think it would change," Walsh said.

    Said Thomas: "I thought we had a chance to do something really special with the influence we could've had with the players. He was much more comfortable with [new coach Rick] Carlisle than myself. I think if he came in Day 1 and said, this is what I want to do, I don't think anyone would've had a problem."

  • #2
    Re: So many fun articles out of New York

    Isiah vs. Bird
    picks up Pace

    Rivalry bounces into front office


    Isiah Thomas coaches his young Pacers...

    ...but Larry Bird would end reign before he could develop a true winner.

    Larry Bird has been the greatest thorn in Isiah Thomas' professional side. After all, Bird not only stole the ball, he eventually took Thomas' job.
    The feelings of contempt that began during the 1987 Eastern Conference finals - when Bird intercepted a lazy Thomas pass and fed Dennis Johnson for the decisive layup - reached its nadir last summer when Bird fired Thomas as coach of the Indiana Pacers.

    "We were all led to believe that everything was OK and we would be given a chance to go out and finish what we started," Thomas said yesterday. "That just wasn't the case."

    The Pacers, under new coach Rick Carlisle, arrive at the Garden tonight with the conference's best record. Thomas, who failed to get the Pacers out of the first round three straight years, is still upset that he isn't around to lead the team he feels he developed.

    When asked if the Pacers could reach the Finals with him as the coach, Thomas said: "I think you know that everyone else feels that way. I know my players feel that way.

    "I don't think the other 28 teams were happy about seeing what was getting ready to develop and taking place in Indiana," Thomas added. "It's a young team that's going to be around for a long time, kicking some butt."

    Knicks-Pacers was one of the league's fiercest rivalries throughout the 1990s. But when Patrick Ewing was traded following the 2001 season, Reggie Miller declared the rivalry dead.

    But now it has been revived by two legendary players from the Celtics-Pistons days. Both Thomas and Bird hold the title of president, basketball operations, and will be waging war from behind the scenes and through the draft, free agency, scouting and player development for the next few years.

    "I have no problem picking up the phone and trying to make a deal with anybody if I felt they had something that could help us," Thomas said. "I have a great deal of respect for (Bird). I really have no hard feelings. If he walks by and we happen to see each other I'll gladly shake his hand and chitchat."

    Bird has yet to travel with the Pacers this season and it is unlikely he will accompany them to New York. The last time he addressed Thomas' dismissal was in October when he said: "It was nothing personal against Isiah. I'm sure he'll get another job and do well. It's just that it had to happen. I felt in my mind it had to happen and it had to happen now."

    Thomas was angered by the timing. According to Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers assured him that Thomas was safe but soon after O'Neal signed, the coach was canned along with Mark Aguirre and George Glymph, who had coached O'Neal in high school. Thomas hired both coaches within of a week of joining the Knicks.

    "If I would've known that Isiah wasn't going to be back, I would have signed with San Antonio," O'Neal has said. "That's a fact."

    Bird was hired on July 11 and said he wanted to evaluate the organization from top to bottom before determining Thomas' fate. Saying he came in with an "open mind," Bird cited poor communication and the Pacers' disappointing finish as his reasons for terminating Thomas.

    Thomas, though, was insulted by questions about his work ethic and communication skills, saying, "I have never, ever had a problem communicating. If anything it's been said I talk too much sometimes. Those things that I was accused of in Indiana up until that point had never ever been associated with myself."

    In his first two seasons, Thomas lost first-round series to the Sixers and Nets. But in Year 3 with home-court advantage against an inferior Celtics team, Indiana was dispatched in six games. Things then went from bad to worse for Thomas, who soon began receiving hate mail, some of which was filled with racist comments. Bird's hiring, though, was hailed throughout the basketball-crazed state.

    "Larry's from Indiana, he's the hometown kid who's coming home and made good," Thomas said. "Even though I went to Indiana University and won the championship and he lost (at Indiana State), I just think the hometown guy will always get the nod and I was still seen as a person from Chicago."

    Race has always been an underlying theme of the Bird-Thomas rivalry. In 1987, Thomas' former teammate, Dennis Rodman, said that if Bird were black he'd be just another good player.

    Moments later, Thomas agreed with Rodman's statement without fully realizing its racial overtones.

    Sixteen years later, that incident resurfaced when Bird was hired as Thomas' boss. Thomas does not believe that Bird holds a grudge. Instead, Bird did what Thomas did to Don Chaney: he replaced a coach he had not hired. Thomas brought in Lenny Wilkens while Bird hired an old teammate and protege, Carlisle.

    "I was wholeheartedly excited about the opportunity to work with (Bird)," Thomas said. "I thought we had a chance to do something really special. I thought of the influence we could have had with the players (because of) the way we view the game, our basketball knowledge. I think at the end of the day he was much more comfortable with Rick Carlisle than he was myself. If he would have come in on day one and said this is what I want to do and this is how I'm going to do it, I don't think anybody would have had a problem with that."


    • #3
      Re: So many fun articles out of New York

      Pacers Don't Miss a Beat With Carlisle at Helm

      By Barbara Barker

      February 3, 2004

      Indianapolis - It was a recipe for disaster. The Indiana Pacers were bitter and fractured when Rick Carlisle was named coach less than a month before training camp. Carlisle was replacing Isiah Thomas, a coach who had been a father-like figure to some Pacers, and was bringing in a complex offensive system, the sort that isn't readily embraced by today's freelance-loving players.

      So how the heck did they become what they are today: the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference? Health, hard work and talent have something to do with it. But perhaps nothing is bigger than the fact that key members of the Pacers - most importantly Jermaine O'Neal - wanted to win so badly that they decided to give Carlisle a chance, even if they didn't like the way he had been brought here.

      "I got an opportunity to talk to Rick Carlisle, and the relationship has been great," said O'Neal, whose 20.4 points and 10.4 rebounds lead the team. "He is doing what anyone else would do. If someone called you for a job like this, why wouldn't you take it? We have a lot more talent than the Detroit team has, and he won 50 games with those guys last year. I never faulted Rick. It's just an issue we have with the organization. I realize I can't control what goes on upstairs."

      Carlisle, who was fired from Detroit in part because he didn't see eye-to-eye with management there, supposedly was getting ready to spend the season as a television analyst when longtime friend Larry Bird fired Thomas and offered Carlisle the job. Carlisle calls it sort of a "shotgun" deal: He took over the team Sept. 2 and had to learn about his players on the fly.

      "Normally, you have three or four months when you take over the team to get to know the players, work out with them and build relationships," Carlisle said. "We simply didn't have the time. I told them the night before training camp that we were going to, at least in the beginning, have to have a relationship built on respect ... It hasn't been easy. I've had to learn an awful lot in a short period of time about them, and they've had to do the same about me."

      It helped Carlisle that the Pacers charged out of the gate, winning 14 of their first 16 games. The Pacers have embraced Carlisle's hard-nosed defensive style, and the team is third in the league in scoring defense, allowing 84.9 points per game. It's Carlisle's complicated offense, which relies on him calling the plays on most trips down the floor, that has resulted in some peaks and valleys. About a month ago, Ron Artest called the offense boring, which it definitely is compared with Thomas' freewheeling attack.

      Carlisle also has been helped by the fact that the team has avoided serious injury and the horrible off-the-court issues that helped lead to its collapse in the second half of last season. Jamaal Tinsley's mother died, O'Neal's stepfather shot himself and Artest became a walking flagrant foul.

      "Last year, we had never been in this situation and we didn't know what it took in the second half of the season," O'Neal said. "I think we got into a lot of individual issues, whether it was playing time or whatever. Now we know what happened last year. And we know what it takes to get out of the first round."

      Overall, the team appears to believe Carlisle has the right kind of approach for the long haul. "I think Coach has got a playoff atmosphere in his mind all the time," Artest said. "Isiah was probably a bit more entertaining: He let you put up the numbers."

      The number that this team ultimately will be judged by, Bird said, is the number of rounds it goes in the playoffs. That number must be greater than one. The Pacers can't go out in the first round for a fourth straight time.

      Said Bird: "It's not only important for us and the team. It's important for the city and the franchise to move forward."

      Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.


      • #4
        Re: So many fun articles out of New York
        Bitter Rivals Meet Again
        Thomas, Bird face off as team presidents

        By Barbara Barker
        Staff Correspondent

        February 3, 2004

        Indianapolis -- When the time came for Larry Bird to fire Isiah Thomas, his old Pistons rival locked eyes with the Legend of French Lick and gave him a piece of his mind.

        "I thought he and I had a wonderful opportunity to do something great in Indiana and do something great in basketball. I don't know if two Top 50 basketball players had ever worked together," Thomas said. "I told him the day he fired me, 'I think you're missing a wonderful opportunity. I hate that you didn't give us a chance. Had you given us a chance, I think you would have enjoyed working with me.'"

        They may have traded their jerseys for suits, and basketballs for mobile phones, but the rivalry between Thomas and Bird lives on - as intense as it was when they were battling it out in the Eastern Conference in the late '80s.

        Bird is the first-year president of basketball operations of the Indiana Pacers, the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference and the team that was coached by Thomas until Bird fired him in August.

        Thomas is the new president of basketball operations of the Knicks. Though neither will be on the court tonight when the Knicks host the Pacers at Madison Square Garden, the two already have done something that observers thought impossible: kick-start a rivalry between two franchises that many thought was at its nadir.

        If the Knicks make the playoffs, they could play the Pacers in the first round. Already, in a way, Bird and Thomas are competing: Both are looking to find the sort of rare, win-at-all-costs players who once stocked their Boston and Detroit teams.

        "When I played Isiah and Magic, I wanted to pull their heart out and step on it," Bird said in an interview last week. "Today, you have Tim Duncan and Jermaine O'Neal. These guys have a lot of respect for each other, but it's different. These guys want to play a great game against each other and then go out and have something to eat. I just couldn't do that. I don't know why. But I just couldn't."

        Perhaps, then, it was too much to expect Bird to retain Thomas when he was hired in July. Bird, as a condition of being interviewed last week, said he would not talk about the particulars of Thomas' firing. "I just had a gut feeling it wasn't going to work," he said on the day the firing was announced. Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh, however, said he believed when Bird was hired that he and Thomas would be able to work together.

        "The way we ended it last year, I think our locker room fragmented," Walsh said. "I can't tell you it was in direct relation with Isiah. It's got to be put back together again. I think as we went on in the summer, it didn't appear like we could do that. It was similar to Don Chaney being let go. You look around, you're not going to trade all the players. So if we're going to bring this back together, we're going to need a new coach."

        Not everyone sees it in such a clear-cut way. Take O'Neal, who considers Thomas almost a father figure. When the Pacers' franchise player signed a seven-year contract last summer, he believed Thomas would remain his coach. Instead, Bird fired Thomas two months before the season started.

        "I don't understand how people could say he deserved to be fired," O'Neal said. "He took players nobody wanted and got us to the playoffs. He took players without any playoff experience and made them into playoff players. Look at my progress. Every year we got better."

        Better, but with the same end result. In all three of Thomas' seasons, the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Last season's finish was the most difficult: After posting the best record in the East, nearly identical to what they have right now, the Pacers collapsed down the stretch as they were bombarded with a myriad of off-the-court issues, including the death of point guard Jamaal Tinsley's mother and a suicide attempt by Jermaine O'Neal's stepfather.

        "I thought people were totally insensitive to the emotional things that were going on with our players last year," Thomas said. "I mean, Jermaine O'Neal's stepfather shot himself in the head, and he's a kid who's standing there holding his head with the blood coming out and everything. I just thought people were very insensitive to what went on with our team."

        Thomas probably would have kept his job had he not been working in a city and state that worshiped Bird and the boy-from-the-small-town mythology that rings him like a halo.

        Judging from the letters to the editor that ran in the Indianapolis Star during Thomas' three-year tenure, which followed Bird's three years as coach, his biggest crime might have been that he wasn't Bird. Even today, 12 years after Bird's playing career ended, the Celtics are a popular team in Indiana. A downtown Indianapolis department store had NBA warm-ups for sale last week - one rack for the Pacers and one rack for the Celtics.

        Thomas has his Indiana roots, too: He won a national championship playing for Bob Knight at Indiana in 1981. But you can bet your last dollar there's never been a rack of Detroit Pistons jerseys on sale in Indianapolis.

        "He just played college here. I grew up here," said Bird, who played for three seasons at Indiana State after transferring from Indiana.

        Laughed Thomas: "Yeah, but I won in college and he didn't."

        Bird had just left Indiana State for the Celtics when Thomas, who played at St. Joseph's in suburban Chicago, went to Indiana, and it seems as though their careers have been intertwined ever since. When Thomas played at Indiana, Bird's mother, Georgia, was a big fan of Thomas' and the two corresponded for a while. Later, before the Pistons began to threaten the Celtics' dominance in the East, Thomas would hang out in the Celtics' locker room when Boston and the Lakers were slugging it out in the NBA Finals in the mid-'80s just to get an idea of what it was like.

        As Thomas' Bad Boy Pistons got better and better, however, Thomas was no longer seen as the younger guy, the non-threat. And that's when the rivalry really took off. "The competition we had was great, but it was also miserable," Thomas said. "You knew if you weren't outside practicing, he was. Every waking moment I had was spent on how to beat those guys."

        Those who were a part of that rivalry had a hard time imagining Thomas and Bird working together. "The question isn't 'Why did Bird fire Isiah?'" fellow Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer said when he heard the news. "It's 'What the hell took so long?'"

        Walsh, who hired both men, said he never thought there was any real animosity between the two, "except that thing that happened with the playoff game."

        "That thing" is the infamous comment Thomas made about Bird after a bitter Game 7 loss in the 1987 Eastern Conference finals. The series had turned in Game 5, when Bird stole an inbounds pass from Thomas in the final seconds and passed to Dennis Johnson for a basket that won the game. After the Celtics eliminated the Pistons in Game 7, Pistons teammate Dennis Rodman told reporters that Bird was overrated because he was white. The comments were relayed to Thomas, who was quoted in numerous newspapers as saying, "If he were black, he'd be just another good guy."

        All heck broke loose, and Thomas flew to Los Angeles for a news conference with Bird during the NBA Finals in which he tried to explain what happened and to apologize. Thomas last week said he simply was repeating comments Rodman made and has been unfairly saddled with it ever since.

        "Back then, I hadn't had any media training, and I repeated a quote," Thomas said. "That quote was given to me. It wasn't right. I live with it until this day."

        And people continue to live with the perception that Bird and Thomas don't like each other off the court, even though Bird has long said he wasn't bothered by the comment and took it as a joke. Walsh, who remains close to both, said it had nothing to do with Thomas' firing.

        It's not so much that Bird and Thomas don't like each other; it's that off the court, they don't really know each other - a fairly strange phenomenon considering how much time they spent thinking about how to beat each other during their playing days and considering they both make their year-round homes in Indiana.

        "At the end of the day, it came down to who Larry felt more comfortable with," Thomas said. "I think he felt more comfortable with Rick Carlisle than with myself."

        Carlisle, who had been fired from the Pistons despite having won 50 games last season, is a former Celtics teammate of Bird's and was Bird's assistant when he coached the Pacers for three seasons. When Bird stepped down as Pacers coach after Indiana lost to the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals, Bird pushed for Carlisle to get his job; Walsh hired Thomas instead.

        Thomas said he and Walsh agreed at the time that it would take three or four years to rebuild the Pacers. Thomas believes the Pacers are going places this season, and it's clear that he would have loved going there with them. If he had, however, he wouldn't have his current job - one in which he has received almost nothing but praise thus far.

        "You have to roll with the changes in this business and move on to the next opportunity and hope it's a better one," Carlisle said. "I think this has been a better one for me. And I think New York is a better one for Isiah. He's president of the New York Knicks. That is a big deal. You're in the media nerve center of the world there. That's right up his alley. That's where he belongs. He belongs at the highest levels of all that kind of stuff. And they made a great hire to get him."

        Walsh, a native New Yorker, also believes Thomas has found a perfect place for his talent. "I think he's a great fit for New York," Walsh said. "I really do. I think he's articulate. He gives a face to a franchise that really needed one. I also think he's made some great moves. He's showing he's getting some things done."

        But as much as Thomas may seem to fit in here and enjoy the fast pace of New York, a piece of his heart remains in Indiana - with the team and with the state. His family still lives there, and he commutes back to Indianapolis to be with them whenever he has a free day or two. He also continues to take pride in what the Pacers are accomplishing. He watches their games on television when he gets the chance.

        Thomas knows his old team is stronger than his new team and says he would rather play someone else in the playoffs. Down the road, however, that will change. "I have tremendous respect for Larry, and I'm sure he feels the same about me," Thomas said. "He knows what he's inherited and he understands what I am building."

        Apparently, there are a few more chapters in the Bird-Thomas rivalry to be written.
        Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.


        • #5
          Re: So many fun articles out of New York

 Remains A Hoosier at Heart

          Thomas Remains A Hoosier at Heart

          By Greg Logan
          Staff Correspondent

          February 3, 2004

          Greenburgh, N.Y. -- As NBA jobs go, it doesn't get much bigger than president of the New York Knicks. But even though Isiah Thomas has full control of the team with the largest payroll in the league, the biggest media market and the most famous arena, his heart and soul haven't yet made the move to New York from Indiana, where he was fired by old playing rival Larry Bird as coach of the Pacers in August.

          Facing Indiana tonight at Madison Square Garden for the first time since taking charge of the Knicks, Thomas reflexively refers to the Pacers as "my players," and he can't help but gush about his love for All-Star Jermaine O'Neal, whom he described as "the best player in the NBA" right now.

          "I love Jermaine O'Neal," Thomas said. "I love him as a person; I love him as a player, and I admire his courage for standing up for what he believes in. But on the other side of the coin, I admire his professionalism and his respect for the game and his respect for his coach to go out and perform and be a great teammate."

          That comment goes to the root of the problem Thomas had with the way Bird handled his firing. When Indiana signed O'Neal to a seven-year contract worth $122 million after Bird became president of the team, it was with the assurance Thomas would remain as coach.

          When the signing came about, Thomas assumed his job was secure. "We were all led to believe that everything was OK and that we would be given a chance to go out and finish what we started," he said. "That just wasn't the case."

          Asked who gave him that impression, Thomas said, "That came from Donnie [Walsh, CEO of the Pacers] and that came from Larry."

          When Thomas was fired, O'Neal loudly protested that he was misled. But he has played hard and well in leading the Pacers to the best record in the Eastern Conference under coach Rick Carlisle, Bird's buddy who replaced Thomas.

          Anyone who has lost a job he loves tends to obsess over the rationale used to justify his firing, and Thomas is no different. Bird cited the Pacers' collapse toward the end of last season that led to a first-round playoff loss and communication problems in the locker room, and he questioned Thomas' work ethic over the summer, when he spent considerable time with the U.S. Olympic team at the qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.

          Asked if he sensed any racial overtones to Bird's comment about his work ethic, Thomas said, "I'm not going to get into any of that. Everything that I've accomplished in life, you couldn't have the type of success that I've had on any level without working hard for it. I've never been accused of [not working hard]."

          Thomas also declined to address directly reports that he was receiving a significant amount of critical letters and e-mails with a racial bias. But his body language and the long pause as he considered the question spoke volumes.

          Although he led Indiana University to the 1981 NCAA title, Thomas ascribed the difference in fan reaction to himself and to Bird, who carried Indiana State to second place in the 1979 NCAA Tournament, to the fact that Bird is a native folk hero. "I was still seen as the person from Chicago," Thomas said, "and not someone necessarily homegrown from Indiana."

          Had he remained as coach of the Pacers, Thomas is confident they would be exactly where they are now: on track to win the Eastern Conference. You would think the sting of his firing by Bird would have faded now that he has a far more powerful position with the Knicks, but you would be wrong.

          "I'm happy to be in the position that I'm in, and I love New York and I love the Knicks and the way we're responding," Thomas said, choosing his words carefully. "But I will tell you those [Indiana] players, the only time I could honestly say in my heart that I won't root for them is when we play them. I don't think the other 28 teams were happy about seeing what was getting ready to develop in Indiana because it was a young team that's going to be around for a long time kicking some --."


          Pacers at Knicks

          7:30 p.m.

          TV: MSG

          Radio: WFAN (660)
          Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.



          • #6
            Re: So many fun articles out of New York

            Vescey is a jerk but he seems to know inside stuff on the Pacers, being in posession of nude photos of Donnie Walsh with Dennis Rodman.

            "Sunday's Newark Star-Ledger branded my report (Al Harrington asking to be traded at least twice) nonsense, and accused Isiah Thomas of planting the small forward's acute Knicks interest in this space. As I learned from working with Charles Barkley, you can't win an argument with the ignorant. The author would better serve his readers, I submit, if he actually had a source other than the Indy beat writer who's made a career of getting beat on Pacer stories by The Post.

            Oh, yeah, Harrington was quoted saying he's happy as a Skylark, er, Pacer being part of a winning team in Indy. What a shock he failed to validate his dissatisfaction with being the sixth man! Meanwhile, in case the Ledger would like to hear the tape, agent Andy Miller admitted to me the discussions with management, indeed, took place, which, of course, I'd already confirmed long before his frantic phone call. . . . "

            Nice slam on the Pacers beat writers in bold!
            The poster "pacertom" since this forum began (and before!). I changed my name here to "Slick Pinkham" in honor of the imaginary player That Bobby "Slick" Leonard picked late in the 1971 ABA draft (true story!).


            • #7
              Re: So many fun articles out of New York

              Thomas lost his ability to legitly gripe about Bird when he canned Chaney.

              Also, I think his claim that we'd be in this good of shape with him at the help is pure ********.

              Our coaching staff is far better now.


              • #8
                Re: So many fun articles out of New York

                Isiah is a snake. Everything Isiah does (coach, manage, etc.) is about Isiah. Couldn't say things that baldly on this board the last three years.

                Fortunately, he's a snake who knows basketball. For this moment in time and for the Knicks, that's better than a nice guy (Layden) who doesn't.
                The poster formerly known as Rimfire


                • #9
                  Re: So many fun articles out of New York

                  Isiah is a snake. Everything Isiah does (coach, manage, etc.) is about Isiah. Couldn't say things that baldly on this board the last three years.
                  Understandable, since PD was founded less than 6 months ago.


                  • #10
                    Re: So many fun articles out of New York

                    I echo the "Isiah's a snake" sentiment. What about JO's quote about signing w/San Antonio? I thought he was less than certain? Also I like Thomas' slam on Bird not winning the NCAA title.

                    Isiah is a bitter man who can't see that he did the same thing with Chaney that Bird did with him.
                    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
                    - Benjamin Franklin


                    • #11
                      Re: So many fun articles out of New York

                      I echo the "Isiah's a snake" sentiment. What about JO's quote about signing w/San Antonio? I thought he was less than certain? Also I like Thomas' slam on Bird not winning the NCAA title.

                      Isiah is a bitter man who can't see that he did the same thing with Chaney that Bird did with him.
                      One of the things that really worries me is that it appears that one of Isiah's primary goals is to show up Larry Bird by beating him - that nothing would be sweeter for him than eliminating Indy from the playoffs.

                      The flailing about and apparently offering everything and anything for a flawed player like Rasheed is a symptom. And I don't know exactly how eager he was, but Vujanic and Lampe went to Phoenix fairly easily - I would really have liked for us to have kept one.

                      There's also the perception that "all things Layden" must go. I have absolutely no other explanation for why Moochie Norris has been getting minutes over Frank Williams. None, nada, zilch, zippo. There is no aspect of the game where Norris is better - even at this moment in time.

                      We'll see how it all pans out. Even with the great giveaway, getting Marbury is a positive IMO - at least it gives us that one guy who we can build a team around. We hadn't had that before.
                      The poster formerly known as Rimfire


                      • #12
                        Re: So many fun articles out of New York

                        There's also the perception that "all things Layden" must go. I have absolutely no other explanation for why Moochie Norris has been getting minutes over Frank Williams. None, nada, zilch, zippo. There is no aspect of the game where Norris is better - even at this moment in time.
                        Insomnia I bet he is better at going days without sleep than Williams,

                        When Norris first came into the NBA he had a serious insomnia issue litteraly he would go days without sleep. He was like that when he lived here in Fort Wayne too. I guess he has it cleared up by now or has learned how to play with it.


                        • #13
                          Re: So many fun articles out of New York

                          Anyone else notice how J.O and Isiah both say how much they like eachother, but Isiah never says anything about the other Pacers players and the other Pacers players never say anything about Isiah.

                          That tells me that J.O might be the only one who was sorry to see Isiah go.


                          • #14
                            Re: So many fun articles out of New York

                            I like this quote from AL

                            I'm looking forward to (the trip to New York) with people asking me and so many sources saying I want to play for New York, but I'll silence all those rumors tomorrow."
                            - Al Harrington