INDIANA Pacers head coach Frank Vogel believes the return of NBA legend Larry Bird as the team’s president for basketball operations is critical in the team’s quest for a championship in the coming season season.
Entering his third full season as the Pacers’ head coach, Vogel said he is happy to have "one of the brightest minds the game has ever seen" to consult especially as the team tries to improve on its performance last season when it reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
“Obviously, he’s (Bird) one of the brightest minds the game has ever seen. To have somebody like that behind all your decision-making moves, with personnel-making moves, and someone I can use as sound board to share my ideas day in day out, that certainly strengthens our intelligence,” Vogel told mediamen on Tuesday after the team’s practice at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Bird actually headed the Pacers delegation in Manila for Thursday's preseason game with the Houston Rockets. Named one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players, the 'Hick from French Lick' is coming off a year-long absence after undergoing hip surgery.
Since his return late June this year, the Indiana front office boss was busy assembling a strong cast that will surround the core of young stars led by Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson and veterans David West and Danny Granger.
Vogel said the team’s successful move to lock up George to a five-year, multi-million dollar contract deal recently, assures the Pacers of a strong run for an NBA title in the coming years.
“It’s really exciting (to re-sign George). He’s such a great basketball player. And knowing he’ll be with us for five more years, it’s a great deal of hope and excitement that had happened,” said Vogel.
However, Vogel insisted the Pacers are not designating George as the team’s franchise player.
“We don’t have a No. 1 guy. We’re a team-first team. That’s the identity we have embraced,” he said. “Nobody cares about individual play and everybody cares about putting team first and playing team basketball.”