NBA: Bird leaves Pacers as Walsh returns to replace him

Larry Bird stepped down as president of the basketball operations for the NBA Indiana Pacers on Wednesday with former Pacers team president Donnie Walsh named to replace him.

Bird, an iconic NBA star player for the Boston Celtics who grew up in Indiana, spent nine years in the top decision-making post for the Pacers, a team he also coached to the NBA Finals in 2000.

"I'm going to take some time off and evaluate what I'll do in the future," Bird said. "This has nothing to do with any conflict or anything else. It's just time. I considered leaving last year, so this shouldn't be a surprise."

Bird, who 20 years ago was a member of the Barcelona Olympic US "Dream Team" that cruised to gold, helped the team rebuild over the past four years, making the second round of this year's playoffs, losing to eventual champion Miami.

"I fully understand Larry's decision to step away and can't thank him enough for what he has done for the Pacers," Pacers owner Herb Simon said. "I can't ask for a better transition at this time than to have Donnie back."

The Pacers also announced Kevin Pritchard, director of player personnel, will become the new general manager, replacing David Morway, who resigned Tuesday.

"I'm proud of what we've accomplished," Bird said. "I like the position this team is in and with Kevin and Donnie. The basketball side won't miss a beat."

Walsh was the Pacers general manager from 1986-1988 and the club president from 1988 through 2008, when he left to join the New York Knicks.

He served as president of basketball operations for two years and as a consultant to the Knicks last season.

"I'm very comfortable in coming back and doing whatever I can to help the Pacers continue their return to prominence," Walsh said. "I couldn't be more proud about coming back and being part of this great franchise again."


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