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IndyStar Article on the Resurgence of the Pacers: Inside story of the Pacers turnaround!! - Page 2
The Indiana Pacers had lost seven of their past eight games but that wasn't the stretch Bird was looking at. He was looking ahead. He saw a stretch of 10 games and figured coach Jim O'Brien could win at least seven of them.
More important, Bird thought a new coach could do the same.
This bothers me. How could Larry have been watching the same performances we all were and believe that the Pacers were going to win 7 of the next 10 games under JOB?
Unless Bird was going to instruct JOB to instantaneously implement a near 180 degree change in philosophy and completely stop all of his negativity toward many of the players (except for Posey of course), I find it doubtful that even JOB's strongest supporters would have thought that to be possible. Also, I doubt that anyone would have expected any new coach to do that well, either.
Still, Bird felt deeply grateful. He felt O'Brien had established a system, a work ethos, a standard of expectation and execution with a young, emerging team.
If this were true, why did the sudden overwhelming change in attitude and performance happen immediately upon his departure?
Why did the players (aside from an immature Stephenson) embrace Vogel to the point that it seemed like they were willing to run through walls for him?
Why was the system changed (inside out smashmouth with increased emphasis on defense as opposed to fast paced 3 point focused offense with defense being deflections and trying to take charges when opponents inevitably attacked the rim at will due to the porous perimeter defense)?
Why was the standard of expectation and execution changed (Vogel nearly immediately proclaimed that he expected the Pacers to not just make the playoffs but also to be competitive in them and gave more freedom to the young players to make some mistakes without quickly benching them, while JOB coached as if he thought the Pacers had no hope because of having too few veterans)?
Larry Bird. He has easily become one of the most important non-players in our franchise's history. He took us further as a coach than anyone else in our NBA history, and now he is responsible for transforming this franchise from dumpster fire to elite. IMO, his moves as GM from 08-present saved the Pacers. This franchise would have been in deep trouble if we would have kept losing.
I know that a lot of the old timers here didn't like Bird as a player in large part because of the locals wearing Celtic green to MSA back in the day. I admit that would have bugged me too. But I'm simply too young to remember Bird as a player. My knowledge of Bird is from watching old videos, so I have nothing but admiration for him as an immortal NBA legend. I'm glad that the Basketball Jesus is back in charge. He succeeds at every level of basketball.
Is there anyone else that has been so successful at all three levels: player/coach/management?