Larry Bird Talks Hiatus, Offseason, Scola, Heat

October 8 2013 at 1:20pm CST By Luke Adams

After being named NBA Executive of the Year in 2012, Larry Bird stepped away from his role in the Pacers’ front office for a year, returning this summer in time to make a number of offseason moves for the team. Speaking to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Bird indicates that he didn’t expect to be back so soon, but that he’s feeling rejuvenated as the season nears. Here are a few of the highlights from Berger’s conversation with the Hall of Famer:

On his decision to return to the Pacers as president of basketball operations:

“I never dreamed I’d be back, especially so quick. But I thought that’s the best thing that I’ve done in a long time — get away from it, refresh, watch the team play…. Of course, any time you’ve got a better team, it makes it a lot easier. But not only that, we’ve got good guys. These guys are so good to be around. It’s like you never left.”

On the Kings’ pursuit of Bird and how it ultimately led him back to the Pacers:

“I guess when the other owners started calling my owner (Herb Simon) up and started asking questions, that’s when he called me and said, ‘Look, I want you back here. I’d rather you be here than anywhere else.'”

On his offseason moves to bolster Indiana’s rotation:

“When I was sitting there last year I was saying, ‘Man, they need a stronger bench, a more consistent bench.’ Soon as I got back, I started pinpointing guys I wanted to go after.”

On the acquisition of Luis Scola:

“I’ve always liked Scola, always been after Scola. I made some calls knowing the price might be steep, but still feel like we got a good deal out of it.”

On the challenges facing the small-market Pacers:

“Every collective bargaining agreement, they try and do whatever they can to make it a level playing field. But it’s never going to be that way. You’ve got major markets that can go out and spend a lot of money on one player, and if he doesn’t pan out, they just sit there and go get another one. We can’t do that. But I knew coming in here what we were up against…. I chose to be here, I know our limitations and I know what we can do and can’t do.”

On trying to topple the Heat:

“First of all, they’ve got the best player in the world. But they’re a tax team. They’ll spend a little bit more to get the players they want and they’ve got players that want to go there and play — pretty good players for a lot less money. That makes it tough, but that’s just part of the game. I’ve always said, the favorite is going to be the team that has the best player…. They deserve to be No. 1 until somebody takes ‘em off that spot.”

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