Veteran NBA executive Donnie Walsh is stepping down from his position as a Pacers consultant, league sources tell Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Walsh confirmed the news to Matthew VanTryon of The Indianapolis Star.
“I’m getting older and don’t have the energy,” said Walsh, who is 79. “It’s a young man’s sport. This job has always occupied a great deal of my time. The Pacers were always in my head. This gives me an opportunity to pay attention to my children, my grandchildren and my wife (Judy) of 58 years.”
According to Agness, team employees were informed of the news on Wednesday during a company conference call.
Walsh, who first joined the Pacers in 1984, has been a crucial part of the franchise over the last few decades. He became the club’s general manager in 1986 before being promoted to president of basketball operations in 1988.
Walsh held that role for 20 years, overseeing a period in which Indiana made the playoffs in 16 of 17 seasons. Although the Pacers never won a championship during that time, they appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals six times and represented the East in the NBA Finals once.
Following a four-year stint with the Knicks from 2008-12, Walsh returned to the Pacers as the team’s interim president of basketball operations when Larry Bird took a one-year sabbatical. Since 2013, Walsh has been a consultant, working with current president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, GM Chad Buchanan, and the rest of the Indiana front office.
“The best period of my life was running the franchise,” Walsh told The Indianapolis Star today. “I accomplished every dream I had. We established a winning tradition and I got the opportunity to work with really good people. The Simon family has been great ownership. I liked everybody that we had in the franchise. We worked well together and strove to make it one of the better franchises in the league.
“As I’ve come back as a consultant, I believe we’ve gotten better. I’m happy with my part in it, but I’m also happy that the franchise has continued to improve.”