Was Gastclown to Blame for Bird's Departure?


After his Pacers were left in their expected 12th position in yesterday's NBA draft lottery, new Indiana coach Larry Bird found himself in a familiar situation.

"I was rooting for the Celtics," he said.

But though the Boston legend still has strong feelings for his old club, he acknowledged that remaining with the organization wasn't best for anyone involved. He told Rick Pitino at first contact that if Pitino came to the Celts from Kentucky, he would probably not have Larry Bird to work with.

And while the Celtics did ask him to stay, Bird agreed with reports that owner Paul Gaston might have been more than a little concerned with his candid nature.

"I like Paul, but he probably was scared about that," Bird said. "The thing is, if I was the one making the decisions on players and they didn't work out right, then I'd take the blame for it. I wouldn't go blaming anyone else. I just didn't want to be in a position where I was signing a guy that the coach wanted but I didn't. I don't mind putting myself on the line, but that wasn't how it would have been with the Celtics."

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