NCAA Championship Game: Michigan State Spartans v North Carolina Tar Heels

As expected, looks like Larry Bird will retire from Pacers


Reports have come out of the New York Post Friday that Larry Bird is leaving as the President and decision maker with the Indiana Pacers after this season. Sources are saying this.

It’s news. It shouldn’t be a surprise. I’m not sure we really need sources when Larry Bird himself said this last June.

“They asked me to stay another year through the lockout season, the owner did, for a favor. I was leaving, but he asked me to stay, and I will and I’ll get the job done.”

The Post’s sources are confirming this is over.

A handshake promise was given Simon last summer by Bird that he would consider re-upping for another season, but that has been ruled out. It’s believed Simon is aware of such and has a petite list of prospective replacement candidates.

For the record, Larry Bird is denying this. Here is his statement, via the twitter of Mike Wells of the Indy Star.

“No decision has been made, end of story,” Bird said through a team spokesman.

What do you expect him to say mid-season? Bird is loyal, he will be quiet on this until after the season, but it would be a shock if he stayed on.

Who should get the job? Well, they have former Portland GM Kevin Pritchard in house, that would seem smart. This was Donnie Walsh’s job before he went to the Knicks and he might return.

But Peter Vecsey says owner Herb Simon is leading toward a splashy big name — Chris Mullin (meh) or Reggie Miller (for the sake of Pacers’ fans, don’t do it).

Whatever happens, finding a way to get this team from good to contender without high draft picks and challenges drawing big free agents will fall to someone other than Bird.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.