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Oct 15, 2012 12:48am
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INDIANAPOLIS —Larry Bird is calling it quits with the Indiana Pacers. Dustin Keller Jersey . Bird, perhaps the most
respected and beloved basketball figure in a state obsessed with the sport, will
leave his job as the Pacers president of basketball operations at the end of
August. He spent four years building the team into an Eastern Conference
contender and was this seasons NBA executive of the year, but is instead moving
on after saying just a month ago that he was willing to stay. Bird said health
issues were among the reasons for his departure. He said he may need shoulder
surgery and cited longstanding issues with his back. “I just think its time,” he
said at a news conference Wednesday as the team announced an executive
reorganization. Bird said was prepared to leave last year with the organization
headed in the right direction. He and owner Herb Simon had discussed his
eventual departure for a few years. Bird also said that payroll issues with the
small-market Pacers did not affect his decision. “(Simon) knows to get to the
next level were going to spend some money,” Bird said. “Every time I went to
Herb about a player or about money to spend, he questioned it. And he should. At
the end of the day, he always said go ahead and do what you have to do to make
this team better. Thats the support you need. ... Were going to spend money.”
Bird said he plans to take a year off and get healthy before he evaluates his
situation. He did not rule out a return to basketball. Owning a team used to be
a goal, but he said he no longer has that interest. Simon said he had hoped to
keep Bird, who will stay on for the draft when the Pacers are scheduled to pick
No. 26 overall in the first round Thursday night. His contract expires Aug. 30.
“I feel sad (with) the announcement that Larrys going to be leaving us,” said
Simon, who continued to talk to Bird about staying as late as Monday. “Larry
could have stayed here as long as he wants, but he has his own reasons. The
Pacers organization appreciates everything hes done for us in his nine years. We
wish him the very best and hope that we can still be associated with him in the
coming years.” The 55-year-old Bird was the Pacers coach from 1997-2000, taking
the team to its only NBA Finals appearance that final year before he returned to
the teams front office in 2003. He took full control as president of basketball
decisions after the 2007-08 season, when Donnie Walsh left to become the New
York Knicks president. Walsh is returning as the Pacers president. Kevin
Pritchard, the director of player personnel, is being promoted to general
manager, replacing David Morway, who resigned Tuesday. Walsh said he wont travel
the country to evaluate collegiate prospects, leaving that to Pritchard. Simon
first seriously talked to Walsh about the job two weeks ago. “It was a good
fit,” Walsh said. “When Larry decided to go, it was easy for Herb to look at me
and I felt natural in coming back here. I had gotten used to, hey, maybe I wont
do it again. So, I had to rethink that again. “(I would have been interested in
another team) only if it was a real situation for me where I knew Id fit. Im not
just throwing my name out for jobs. I wouldnt do that.” Bird had said just a
month ago that he wanted to stay and expressed interest in a three-year deal
rather than the annual “handshake” agreements he had with Simon. It wasnt to be,
and now the Pacers will look to continue their resurgence. Under Bird, the
Pacers went 36-46 in 2008-09 and 32-50 in 2009-10 and then, two seasons ago, the
Pacers were 17-27 when Bird fired coach Jim OBrien in what proved to be a spark.
Interim coach Frank Vogel then took a young team with core players
Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Darren Collison and guided it
to the playoffs. The Pacers challenged the Chicago Bulls before losing the
first-round series 4-1. This year, Indiana beat Orlando easily in the first
round before falling to eventual champion Miami in six games. Bird, of course,
is as well known in Indiana as John Wooden or Bob Knight. The former Indiana
State star from tiny French Lick won three MVP awards and three NBA titles
during his Hall of Fame career with Boston. As the Pacers president, he took a
franchise humbled by the brawl between Pacers players and Pistons fans in 2004,
made a series of difficult trades to get rid of troublemakers, rebuilt through
the draft and returned the Pacers to the Eastern Conference semifinals this
season. It was Indianas deepest post-season run in seven years. The franchise
with a tarnished image is now one of the leagues most promising teams despite
its small-market status. Bird built the team the old-fashioned way—by
drafting players (Paul George and Hansbrough) and developing them through the
team structure, making shrewd decisions to trade for others (George Hill and
Collison) and finding affordable free agents (David West). The Pacers, well
under the salary cap, are expected to be a significant player in free agency. Tim Tebow Womens Jersey . With Ryan Dempster
and Paul Maholm now pitching for other teams, Jeff Samardzija is the leader in
the clubhouse with just seven victories—a number that didnt change after his
6-1 defeat against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. Bart
Scott Jersey
. The 32-year-old Green is with England at Euro 2012
as a backup to Joe Hart and has won 12 caps for his country. He played six years
at West Ham, but decided to leave the club, which earned promotion to the
Premier League this season. http://www.jetsprostore.com/tim-tebow-jersey
.C. —Defending champion John Isner and top-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had
straight-sets victories Thursday night to set up a semifinal match in the
Winston-Salem Open. Shonn Greene Jersey . —Shin-Soo Choo sat at
his locker in the Indians clubhouse, the bruise on the outside of his right knee
just larger than a baseball and turning every shade of red and blue imaginable.
Nick Folk Jersey . Giavotella hit a two-run
double off Matt Thornton in the seventh inning and Jeff Francoeur belted his
first homer of the season, leading the Royals to a 9-1 victory over the Chicago
White Sox on Sunday. “We were dead and (Giavotella) put up a huge at-bat against
a guy whos not easy to hit and throws 97,” Francoeur said.TSN is taking a road
trip in celebration of the 100th GREY CUP as Canadas Sports Leader brings
football fans complete coverage of the Grey Cup 100 Train Tour Presented by RONA
on CFL on TSN and SportsCentre beginning Friday. As part of the networks
coverage, TSN debuts a special series of Grey Cup features narrated by different
Grey Cup champions including Geroy Simon, Glen Suitor and Roger Aldag. The
inspiring and emotional stories profile the champions themselves, as well as
everyday CFL fans who have their own stories to tell – showcasing just what the
CFLs championship trophy means to Canadians from coast to coast.  The first
feature airs on Saturday as part of double-header action on CFL on TSN beginning
at 12:30pm et/9:30am pt and on SportsCentre. Narrated by Lions receiver and
two-time Grey Cup champion Simon, he tellls the story of how CFL fan Austin
Frykas and his father, Todd, were brought together through eight months of
adversity and their love of football, culminating with a surprise trip to the
99th Grey Cup thanks to a few good Samaritans. Tim
Tebow Jersey Elite
.   Throughout the Grey Cup 100 Train Tour, TSNs
Kate McKenna is on board the train, filing daily reports from the road for
SportsCentre.  The Grey Cup 100 Train Tour begins its 10-week journey from the
VIA Rail Pacific Central station and embarks on an historic 4,100 km journey
that will see the Grey Cup trophy visit 100 different communities across the
country. The tour will first open to the public on Sunday from 10am-4pm pt in
Vancouver. TSN is the official broadcaster of the CFL and has complete live
coverage of the 100th GREY CUP on Sunday, Nov. 25 from Toronto. ’ ’ ’ 

Oct 24, 2012 1:23am
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