NBA legend won't be returning next season


NBA legend won't be returning next season

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Larry Bird has resigned from the Indiana Pacers, effective from the end of August. Bird, perhaps the most respected and beloved basketball figure in a state obsessed with the sport, is the Pacers' president of basketball operations. He spent four years building the team into an Eastern Conference contender and was this season's NBA executive of the year, but is instead moving on after saying just a month ago that he was willing to stay. Bird said health issues were among the reasons for his departure. He said he may need shoulder surgery and cited longstanding issues with his back. "I just think it's time," he said at a news conference on Wednesday as the team announced an executive reorganization. Bird said he was prepared to leave last year with the organization headed in the right direction. He and owner Herb Simon had discussed his eventual departure for a few years. Bird also said that payroll issues with the small-market Pacers did not affect his decision. "(Simon) knows to get to the next level we're going to spend some money," Bird said. "Every time I went to Herb about a player or about money to spend, he questioned it. And he should. At the end of the day, he always said go ahead and do what you have to do to make this team better. That's the support you need. ... We're going to spend money." Bird said he plans to take a year off and get healthy before he evaluates his situation. He did not rule out a return to basketball. Owning a team used to be a goal, but he said he no longer has that interest. Simon said he had hoped to keep Bird, who will stay on for the draft when the Pacers are scheduled to pick No. 26 overall in the first round on Thursday. His contract expires on Aug. 30. "I feel sad (with) the announcement that Larry's going to be leaving us," said Simon, who continued to talk to Bird about staying as late as Monday. "Larry could have stayed here as long as he wants, but he has his own reasons. The Pacers organization appreciates everything he's done for us in his nine years. We wish him the very best and hope that we can still be associated with him in the coming years." The 55-year-old Bird was the Pacers coach from 1997-2000, taking the team to its only NBA Finals appearance that final year before he returned to the team's front office in 2003. He took full control as president of basketball decisions after the 2007-08 season, when Donnie Walsh left to become the New York Knicks' president. Walsh is returning as the Pacers' president. Kevin Pritchard, the director of player personnel, is being promoted to general manager, replacing David Morway, who resigned on Tuesday. Walsh said he won't travel the country to evaluate collegiate prospects, leaving that to Pritchard. Bird had said just a month ago that he wanted to stay and expressed interest in a three-year deal rather than the annual "handshake" agreements he had with Simon. Bird won three MVP awards and three NBA titles during his Hall of Fame career with Boston. As the Pacers' president, he took a franchise humbled by the brawl between Pacers players and Detroit fans in 2004, made a series of difficult trades to get rid of troublemakers, rebuilt through the draft and returned the Pacers to the Eastern Conference semifinals this season. It was Indiana's deepest postseason run in seven years.

Curran: A laughable double standard in Manning vs. Brady cases

Curran: A laughable double standard in Manning vs. Brady cases

Reading the NFL’s breathless release Monday afternoon that the investigation of St. Peyton came back clean as a whistle and that, hell, ol’ Pey-Pey couldn’t have been more accommodating to the investigators (wink, nudge), the words of Elvis Costello occurred to me.

Oh, I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused …

Nobody in their right mind ever believed the NFL would get taint all over Manning post-retirement. Having just spent 18 months dragging Tom Brady’s through the streets, they were going to let him loose and hitch up Manning? Please.

But you figured they’d just slip a note to one of their many media friendlies that the investigation into Huge Head’s alleged HGH use was concluded and move on. Instead, it got “MAN LANDS ON MOON!” treatment complete with a neener-neener subhed that read: “Mannings Fully Cooperated with League Investigation into Allegations in Documentary.”

If they could have used the “in tears from laughter” emoji, they would have. They just can’t help themselves.
But I’m not dog-whistling for the anti-Manning crowd to get up in arms. I’m definitely not inviting a renewed parsing of the Deflategate facts, the Ideal Gas Law or Article 46.

I just don’t think that using HGH – particularly in the realm of recovery – is a mortal NFL sin. The job demands unnatural things from the body, it invites unnatural recovery methods. I’ve always regarded the league’s foot-dragging on HGH testing to be partly because they don’t want to know.

Conspiring to spirit game balls away after they were checked by the officials and let the air out of them does seem a bit more nefarious.

But wasn’t it Roger Goodell himself that equated deflating footballs to PED usage? I’ll answer that. Yes. Yes it was.

That being the case, I need to point out the lack of apparent intensity in going after Manning compared to the never-say-die, multimillion- dollar, league-hijacking, shield-tarnishing witch hunt conducted by the NFL when it came to Brady.

Did anyone in the Manning camp – from Tom Condon to Ari Fleischer – ever have Mike Kensil growling, “You guys are in big f******* trouble!” Was anyone at the Guyer Institute summoned for 14 hours of questioning by guys like Jeff Pash or Ted Wells?

Did Manning ever have to fend off league-leaked misinformation to reporters that the NFL allowed to stand even when the NFL knew the information was a lie?

Of course he didn’t. Manning is a friendly. The Manning family is the NFL equivalent of the Kennedys. And the people Manning was closest to during his time in the NFL – Tony Dungy, Bill Polian, even the repulsive Jim Irsay – aren’t people the league would want to alienate by subjecting Manning to the same kind of public cavity search Brady was.

Again, not that I expected or even believed the league should have done that. The guy is retired, after all. He got out of Dodge.

But it was Goodell that invited this comparison when he handed down his appeal ruling last July, stating that, “In terms of the appropriate level of discipline, the closest parallel of which I am aware is the collectively bargained discipline imposed for a first violation of the policy governing performance enhancing drugs; steroid use reflects an improper effort to secure a competitive advantage in, and threatens the integrity of, the game. Since the advent of our testing for steroid use in the 1980’s and now, pursuant to our Collective Bargaining Agreement, the first positive test for the use of performance enhancing drugs has resulted in a four-game suspension without the need for any finding of actual competitive effect.”

So, if the violations were created equal, why wasn’t Manning dealing with the same presumption of guilt Brady did and the same level of fact-finding?

You already know but I’ll answer it anyway. “Getting” Peyton Manning was the last thing the NFL wanted to do. The Patriots have been the Moby Dick to the NFL’s Captain Ahab for nearly two decades.

One last thing to note on this. It’s actually sad that it seems implausible the NFL did a full and exhaustive investigation and a fully cooperative Manning was able to conclusively prove he never used HGH.

Not because of Manning’s lack of credibility. Because of the NFL’s.

Kusnierek: Differences preparing for Rio vs Sochi

Kusnierek: Differences preparing for Rio vs Sochi

Trenni Kusnierek will be covering the Olympics in Rio for NBC. She talked with Toucher and Rich about it. 

Tuesday, July 26: Daley’s surprise visit with the Cup


Tuesday, July 26: Daley’s surprise visit with the Cup

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while never getting tired of the Bernie Sanders/Curb Your Enthusiasm parallels.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Trevor Daley making a surprise visit with the Stanley Cup and talking more about his emotional moment hoisting the Cup right after the win by the Penguins.

*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean get their just reward with a star on the Canada Walk of Fame after years of great hockey entertainment.

*Adam Larsson has heard the fan reaction in Edmonton after being traded for Taylor Hall, and he’s downplaying it all.

*A lack of a deal for RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba with the Winnipeg Jets doesn’t mean Trouba trouble quite yet. But it sure doesn’t sound like things are all ducky in Winnipeg.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Rosen sits down with Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka to answer five questions about his new gig, and some big changes for the Desert Dogs.

*Scott Powers has Jimmy Vesey’s camp confirming that the Chicago Blackhawks will be one of the teams on Vesey’s “short list” when he speaks with teams on Aug. 15. Watch out for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks, who have been out to see Vesey a couple of times in Foxboro over the last month.

*The Washington Capitals continue to build depth among their forward group, and have constructed a strong roster for next season.

*For something completely different: if you love baseball or have ever enjoyed some of the truly great Dan Shaughnessy columns over the years, you will enjoy this column from Shaughnessy about his Hall of Fame induction. Congrats to Dan, a true titan in our industry.