This is coming from a guy who never was a Boston and Larry Bird fan growing up. I didn't start watching basketball until 1993, and that was because of field trips to MSA and my interest in playing the sport. I was 9. I look back at him now as an adult and realize he is one of the best players to ever step on the court.
I've been one of the biggest Bird supporters since he joined us. This isn't an "I told you so" and an "eat your crow" thread, but let's give the man some props.
Everyone knows what happened when the two headed monster existed, before we canned Walsh. Thankfully we finally got rid of the guy who almost took our franchise to glory, then, ran it in the ground. Nothing lasts forever. It was his time to go.
Since Bird has taken over he has been the best GM in the NBA BY FAR! Anyone who can't see this at this point is really blind. Sure you can say Pat Riley, blah, blah, blah, but Larry took a deck of cards that were heavily stacked against him and is sitting at the finalist table.
I said many years back that what Larry was assembling one of the best young cores in the NBA, if not the best.
Trading a washed up JO for one of the most promising young centers in the game? Brilliant. The announcer who said Hibbert wasn't a true center should be fired. In my mind he is what defines a true center. He is the most promising young true center in the game. He doesn't go down there and foul someone every play like Howard, he does it with finesse and old school post movers and shooting. He has future All-Star written all over him. The hardest player to come by in the whole NBA is a true center that can stay healthy that has the potential to be a future All-Star
Oh but what about Bayless for B Rush? Well considering we MUST re-sign a 23 old power forward we acuired from this deal on top of B Rush, I'd say we made out like thieves in the night. This is better than the JO trade we got from them in my book. JO was losing basketball, as his epic failure here proved.
Trading Murphy for Collison? Steal of the year by far. Collison is the most promising young point gaurd we have ever had here in Indiana folks. People bash him, and even I lobbied for TJ Ford during the locker room meltdown, because TJ Ford was always a professional. Sookie gets it right on him and Price alot. I think she knows more about the PG position than any of the posters on this board. He is a second year player trying to leran the hardest position in the NBA under his fourth coach. Noone knows how high Collison's ceiling is, but if it 20/10 on a 50 win team, that is All-Star caliber.
Any criticisms of Hansbrough should be laid to rest. I annointed him starter his rookie year and people called me nuts, but he was the steal of that draft for where we got him. Sure there may be a couple of better players ahead of him, but we got a lottery pick essentially in the teens because he had so many doubters. Another brilliant move by Bird. Can't discount getting Price in the second round either. He has proved he belongs in the NBA as a second unit point gaurd. How many point gaurds that year went ahead of him? Pretty good for where we got him.
Paul George may be the steal of the decade. He has Kobe Bryant 2.0 written all over him. How did we get a number one pick at 10? I don't know. But anyone who doesn't think Paul George has top 3 pick talent must really not watch the NBA draft. Where was Dunleavy picked? George has by far the most talent on the team. I find it funny the night after the poster questioned him because Hayward scored 22 on Kobe, George put up 23 and may be the next Kobe lol. Okay maybe his ceiling isn't as high as Bryants, but he is the most talented the Pacers have ever had. I'm not crowning his *** and saying he is better than Reggie, but his ceiling is much higher.
Is Lance Stephenson the biggest fan on the bench nowadays? Man I really think this kid has turned a corner since the locker room meltdown. It gives me the chills and puts a tear in my eye, but I think the vets have really embraced him. And we don't have a team full of thugs. We have hard working guys who keep their **** in order. He is the one player who has as much if not more talent than George on this team, and he is the biggest wildcard. What happens to our team one day if George and Stephenson both live up to their full potentials?
Am I crazy to think a championship is more feasible with this young core than any we have ever had? I think Larry has assembled a future championship contender with a cool 25-30 mil in cap space.
Name one GM who has done more with less and I'll laugh. There isn't one. Or name one close who has the cap space he has under the new CBA? Laughing all the way to the bank, Larry, all the way to the bank.
His one mistake; keeping Jimmy too long. But that was Bird's reward for Jimmy taking a job no other experienced NBA head coach would take. Let's give Jimmy his due. He lit the fire under Hibbert's and Hansbrough's and McRoberts's and all the young guys butts. He made them work hard. Game day full contact practices. You could tell we were always wore out at the end of the games and how it hurt our stamina. But it made them stronger!!! Made them want to prove him wrong!
But Bird completely redeemed himself by firing JOB at just the right time to promote one of the best young coaches in the NBA. We have to re-sign Vogel for next year! I am in love with this guy and what has done to bring Pacers basketball back. I said it before and I'll say it again, you don't ever let a guy like him walk. His work ethic is unmatched, and his belief in his players goes a long way.
Playoffs baby!!! Boom Baby!!! Get your free kool-aid and and blue and yellow sunglasses while supplies last!!! Let's upset Chicago for Slick!!!!