I really like these comments by Bird and Herb Simon. Especially Bird's comments in the last paragraph.
Team's co-owner takes over as CEO, will consult with Bird on basketball decisions
By Mike Wells
Posted: April 17, 2008
Simon, 73, sticking to his word that he would make managerial changes to fix a franchise that has fallen on hard times, announced Wednesday he will become chairman and chief executive officer of Pacers Sports and Entertainment and consult with Larry Bird on basketball decisions.
Simon also announced former Indianapolis civic leader Jim Morris will become president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment and oversee the business operations of Conseco Fieldhouse, the Pacers and Fever.
Bird remains Pacers president of basketball operations, but Simon said he will be involved in the "major basketball decisions," such as whom the Pacers draft, trade or sign.
"The franchise has gone through many good years, but the last few years we've been at a crossing point and it's important for me to have a viable franchise in this city," said Simon, who owns the Pacers with his brother Mel. "The city has been real good to me, my family, brother that we don't ever want to disappoint this city and the people, the fans. With (former CEO) Donnie (Walsh) leaving, it would be an appropriate time."
Simon's increased role is surprising considering he preferred to stay behind the scenes and leave Walsh in charge of the day-to-day operations. Walsh became president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks on April 2.
Simon told The Star last month that he planned to address "everything but the owner right now." Simon said he will travel between Indianapolis and his home in Southern California.
"Before, I was a 'hands-on, hands-off' owner. And now I'm going to be a 'hands-on, hands-on' owner," Simon said.
"I'll be participating with the two gentlemen (Bird and Morris) to re-look at the franchise from top to bottom. To make us more responsive basketball-wise. More responsive to our fans and our sponsors. I'm getting energized myself over this."
The Pacers, who ended their season Wednesday, missed the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time in nearly 20 years and finished last in the league in attendance.
Fixing their situation won't happen overnight. The Pacers have an early first-round pick in June's draft but lack salary cap space to sign a prominent free agent, and Bird has had trouble finding a suitable trade for Jermaine O'Neal.
"It's tough, I understand the situation," Bird said. "My job here is very clear, to try and get this franchise back to winning. But I know what's going to happen before we get there.
"The first thing I want to do is really take a look at the things that have happened in the past off the court and address them. Then get into the team and really get after it through the draft and this summer. We have to change some players on this team because a lot of things have happened."