First allow me to state that I believe Larry Bird is one of the greatest players in NBA history. He has been one of the most important and iconic players in professional basketball, and as a result of his epic battles versus Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers during the late 80’s and early 1990s’ – he helped rejuvenate a struggling professional basketball league and delivered some of the greatest and most talked about sports rivalries in the NBA.
Not all great basketball players translate to being great general managers, coaches, and team presidents. Just ask Isaiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, and Kevin McHale – all Hall of Fame players but mediocre in their overall performance at the executive level. While Larry Bird shouldn’t be added to the list mentioned above, he did execute a terrible decision in which I believe is the primary reason the Indiana Pacers will NEVER win a championship – he decided to trade Danny Granger, the most experienced and proven player for the Indiana Pacers.
Danny Granger was the face and the premiere player for the Indiana Pacers franchise for more than five seasons, and was well on his way to becoming an NBA superstar. Unfortunately, In the 2012-2013 season, Granger only played 5 games due to patellar tendinitis. As Granger remained sidelined with injury – Paul George emerged as one of premiere player in the Eastern Conference. Then again we are talking about the east. I’ll let that marinate for a second.
True, Granger was in fact injured and his recovery was doubtful, but he was the heart and soul of the Indiana Pacers and played an important “big brother” role in the development of Paul George. Sadly, Larry Bird got caught up in the superstar hype which surrounded George throughout the 2013 NBA season and decided to cut the cord on Granger. George certainly show significant signs of being a superstar caliber player, unfortunately his inconsistency began to rear its ugly head after the post-Granger era, and the Indiana Pacers began to spiral downward, as the team came close to losing their No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and also on the brink of being upset by the Atlanta Hawks during the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs.
Lets not forget the player the Pacers acquired in the trade for Granger, Evan Turner. He was a proven scorer for a Philadelphia 76ers team that lacked talent, but as a member of the Pacers team, Turner proved to be just another slightly above average player good enough to ride the bench the entire post-season. At least Danny Granger served as an asset to the Los Angels Clippers during the Playoffs. I wish I could say the same about Evan Turner.
Moral of the story is this, you should never underestimate player chemistry. As a player, Larry Bird never experienced the loss of an important teammate and mentor during his tenor in the NBA because he was the most important player on his team. So why should he make decisions that could be detrimental to the success of the organization? For this reason alone, the Indiana Pacers will never advance to the NBA finals, not under Larry Birds watch.
Congratulations to the Miami Heat, you exposed the Pacers for what they are – an inexperienced team with major character flaws.
Larry Bird should be in the hot seat.