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9.10.2013

Dominique Wilkins' Arrival Meant Bird's Departure

5/19/97

Almost lost amid the Celtics' disappointment at not landing the NBA's top draft choice yesterday was Larry Bird's criticism of the C's in an interview with NBC's Peter Vecsey.

Bird, now Indiana's coach, said too many were involved in the Celtics' decision-making process. He said they never listened to him, then related how he learned they never would.

The occasion was the 1994 signing of Dominique Wilkins as a free agent. Bird said he learned of the move by reading a newspaper.

"I was shocked as anybody and I didn't know how to react to it," Bird declared, acknowledging it was a bad move. "I knew right then that they weren't going to listen to me anymore."

Bird agreed with Vecsey's assessment that this was the time "when your input had basically ceased."

Egged on by Vecsey, Bird at first hesitated when asked when the C's stopped listening to him. Then he said: "I don't think they ever really started. And I don't blame 'em. I wasn't a full-time employee. That's the one thing in Boston I always felt was a problem - too many people were talking."

Bird told how upset he was over the once-proud Celtics hitting "bottom."

"The Boston Celtics are not supposed to be on the bottom," he said. "They're supposed to be champions, compete, have players out there that die for the organization. It still hurts.

"It hurts leaving . . . because I got a lot of fans there and a lot of good people.

"But something changed when (they) went from the old Garden to the FleetCenter. Something changed and it's time for them to get back to where they belong."

Vecsey, virtually taking over an hour prelude to Miami eliminating the Knicks, said he's convinced that if C's owner Paul Gaston had offered Bird the president's post "and allowed him to pick his own coach," Bird would still be part of the C's organization. "The question is, would Rick Pitino have come if he didn't have that kind of power?"

2 comments:

FLCeltsFan said...

I honestly believe that the Celtics would have been back on top sooner had they gone the route of offering President (or coach) to Bird. He's a winner, plain and simple. I can guarantee that if Bird was president and picked his own coach, it wouldn't have been Pitino.

Lex said...

I think were was some uninformed bias against bird.

What does a hick from french lick know about running a basketball team?

Never read that, just a gut feel...

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