What Larry Bird thinks of Brad Stevens and Jason Kidd

The NBA is a better place with Larry Bird in it.

For a season — Bird took off the 2012-13 season to deal with mental fatigue and physical issues — the league missed his wit, wisdom, charm and honesty.

But Bird is back as president of the Indiana Pacers after that one-year hiatus, and Monday, news reporters caught up with him as he was leaving the gym after watching the Pacers’ summer league team play.

He riffed on multiple topics, from Jason Kidd’s transition from the court to the bench as the new coach the Brooklyn Nets to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett leaving the Boston Celtics for the Nets to Celtics President Danny Ainge’s decision to rebuild to fellow Indiana native Brad Stevens accepting the Celtics job to Indiana forward Paul George to the luxury tax impact on the Pacers.

Bird knows what it’s like to be in Kidd’s position, having made the move to coach in 1997-98 for three seasons. He had a career record of 147-67 and reached the NBA Finals in 1999-00, losing to Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

“It’s not as easy as it looks to tell you the truth,” Bird said. “I have even more respect for the coaches I had over the years. It’s a tough gig. It’s a lot of hours … it’s grinding and it was easier when you had the ball in your hands. He’ll find that out.”

Bird also understands Kidd has experience with Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson in the lineup, and that will help.

“The transition should be smooth,” Bird said. “They know what they’re trying to accomplish. They put together a tough squad. He’ll just manage them well, and he’s got two great assistants. He should be fine.”

On Pierce leaving the Celtics: “I would have loved to have seen it (Pierce retire a Celtic). I have a lot of respect for Paul and what he accomplished there. But who says he’s not going to play another four years? It’s a tough situation. … He’s one of the better ones to ever come through there. He really is.”

On the depth of the Eastern Conference: “We know Chicago is going to be better. Obviously Brooklyn should be a lot better. We thought Brooklyn beat us every time last year, so they’re only going to be stronger. We just have to get better ourselves, and hopefully compete at a high level. … The Heat are the Heat. There’s only one winner. They’ve won the last two years. Everyone else is trying to catch them.”

On Ainge’s rebuilding effort with the Celtics: “Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing. He’s had great success. He’s won a championship. I never doubt Danny Ainge, I only doubt him when he had the ball in his hands with three seconds to go, but not in the position he has now. Danny does a good job. You do get older. You can’t beat father time. I’m sure things will work out.”

On new Celtics coach Brad Stevens: “I don’t know Brad Stevens personally, but I know he did a good job in Indianapolis. The people really like him there. I’m not surprised. I knew two, three years ago — he wasn’t — but he had a guy sniffing around the NBA to see what was out there. I’m not surprised by it. He’ll do fine. It just takes time. It takes time for everybody.”

On watching Stevens coach Butler the past few seasons: “He’s very patient. He doesn’t get too excited. When the players watch their coach and they don’t get excited, they play with that demeanor to keep pushing. He’s going to be alright. It carries over to his players, and that’s why they got so far in the last few years.”

On Paul George’s rapid rise to stardom: “He told me when we drafted him he’d be an All-Star in three years and he was. I don’t have many players walk into my office and tell me how good he’s going to be but he did. … He’s one of the nicest young men I’ve ever seen. I’ve been in the league 30 years, and he’s one of the best human beings to ever come through here. It was not cocky, it was just him telling me he was going to work as hard as he could to improve every year.”

On teams such the Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder avoiding the luxury tax: “Because we can’t afford it. It’s like buying a used car and a new car. If you have the money to buy a used one you better buy a used one. Our owner went out and did everything he could this year so we could be close to the tax. We just can’t fight the tax. It’s always going to be a disadvantage for us. I feel bad for Oklahoma. They had a great team and they had to make a trade. They were right there, but we’re going to have to do the same in the future. We’re always fighting an uphill battle with revenues. But that’s part of who we are. We do the best we can with what we have.”

Written by Nick


Nick the Quick White is an avid fan of basketball and hip hop, and a contributing writer with WJS since 2013. Nick has interviewed rappers, ballers, rapper ballers, and baller rappers on the site and continues to preach that the NBA should have a team in Europe. Maybe because Nick currently lives outside London where to them Football is actually played with your feet, can you believe this fatuousness?

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