INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers announced Monday that Larry Bird is stepping down as President of Basketball Operations with current Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Kevin Pritchard assuming Bird’s position. Bird will remain with the team in an advisory role.
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“I felt it was time to step away in a full-time capacity,” said Bird. “This has nothing to do with my health or our team. I’m 60 years old and I want to do other things away from basketball. I will do some scouting for the Pacers, NBA, college, international, do some appearances and stay in a capacity to advise senior basketball management. I love the Pacers, I grew up with the Pacers and admired them from a very young age. I want to thank the fans for their support throughout my career. I also want to thank (owner) Herb Simon for the many years of loyalty and for allowing me to stay with the team in a different role.”
“This is not a shock to me as Larry has always been up front about someday stepping down,” said Simon. “I thank him for all that he has done and am very pleased he is remaining with the Pacers in a different capacity.”
The 49-year-old Pritchard has been with the Pacers five years, first as Director of Player Personnel before becoming General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations/General Manager. He previously had been General Manager for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2007-10 where he helped turn around a team that in 2008-09 posted the sixth-best record in franchise history (54-28) and made the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
“I want to thank Herb, Larry and Donnie (Walsh) for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Pritchard. “As someone who grew up in Indiana (he was born in Bloomington), I’ve always felt the Pacers’ pride. The goal is always going to be the same as it has been through Donnie and Larry: to make this a world-class organization.”
“I have the utmost faith in Kevin taking over,” said Simon. “He has learned from a couple of great ones, Donnie and Larry, while with the Pacers. We all feel he will do a tremendous job.”
Added Bird, “I’m very happy Kevin is stepping in and glad another Hoosier is in line to take over this job. He has a lot of experience from the past five years as a GM and he’s ready to step into a leading role. With us, he has had his own ideas on the draft, players, and now he gets an opportunity to push his basketball abilities to the forefront. His role will be no different than mine was. He will make all final decisions on all basketball-related matters. There can only be one voice and it will be his.”
Pritchard played collegiately at Kansas and was part of the Jayhawks’ 1988 National Championship team. He played in the NBA with Golden State, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and Washington. After playing, he was the coach/general manager of the Kansas City Knights of the ABA, winning a championship in 2002. He then scouted for San Antonio, became Portland’s Director of Player Personnel in 2004 and in the 2004-05 season was the Blazers’ interim coach for 27 games. In 2006, he became Portland’s assistant general manager before becoming GM in 2007.