It was a move that seemed destined to happen almost from his hiring. Sunday, the Indiana Pacers fired Coach Jim O'Brien. In his three and half years on the job, the Pacers showed no signs of life unless you count a two game winning streak the highlight of his career.
Sadly though, the person telling Jim O'Brien that he was being let go was by a former coach now turned General Manager Larry Bird. His demeanor throughout the press conference announcement was both comical and confusing.
Let's set the record straight though. Larry as a ballplayer was one of the toughest on the court and deserves to be in the top ten of all time greats. His skills as a general manager though leave a lot to be desired. Sunday at O'Brien's firing, he said the blame for the club's misfortunes shouldn't be solely on the shoulders of the fired coach. Maybe the club didn't have the right ballplayers. Uh Larry here is thought. If you knew that and could see it, then why didn't it happen?
The problems of this ball club are well documented. The solutions will not be easy to figure out. But it seems like the basics of doing the job from the players on the court to the running of club have been out of whack for some time. It is hard to pinpoint whether the departure of Donnie Walsh or the fallout of the "brawl" still lingers, but the sad part is none of that should matter now. Somewhere between the retirement of Reggie Miller and the championship bound squad from 2000 to now, the Indiana Pacers have tried to re-invent themselves both on and off the court. Winning may cure a lot, but the formula for getting there seems to be locked in some vault with no known combination. I don't remember the clubs of the late 80's or 90's being this dysfunctional. Maybe they were, but the players who played then seemed to have purpose and pride. The qualities seem to be absent now or else they have been hidden in a closet.
Larry Bird seems intent on playing the tough guy. But words on paper don't make the man, actions do. Let's see what the upcoming weeks hold for this club. A famous wrestler once said, “to be the man you've got to beat the man!" Right now the Pacers aren't even close to being THEE man. Let's hope a change is forthcoming.