Legendary tussles between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird NBA executives will not be a part of the future for two of basketball’s most iconic figures.
Bird short-circuited those possibilities today when he stepped down as president of the Indiana Pacers, as first reported by The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.
When Magic took over as president of the Los Angeles Lakers in February, the former rivals and friends were immediately linked together again. They battled as players in college and then as NBA superstars, with Magic leading the "Showtime" Lakers and Bird the Boston Celtics in the 1980s.
While observers looked forward to their rivalry continuing for future generations as front-office types, Bird apparently had no desire to keep plugging away in his native Indiana. He steps aside for the second time since taking over the franchise's daily operations since 2003. Bird retired from the same position in 2012 only to return a year later.
Kevin Pritchard, the team’s general manager, will assume Bird’s duties going forward. He’s been a part of the Pacers’ brain trust for years, having worked alongside both Bird and legendary Pacers front office boss Donnie Walsh.
Larry Bird is stepping down as Pacers president, league sources tell @TheVertical. Kevin Pritchard will take over basketball operations.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 28, 2017
Bird is expected to continue on as a consultant, working with Pritchard and the Pacers front office, league sources tell @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 28, 2017
Sources: For now, Bird's plan is consulting, but Orlando's search firm has been asking around about him as possible candidate for president.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 28, 2017
Bird steps aside at an interesting time for the Pacers, who were swept out of the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week. All-Star swingman Paul George could enter the trade crosshairs this summer, having made it clear that he is not interested in signing a long-term extension with the team that drafted him, the team he helped to back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 an 2014.
Whether or not Bird, 60, was ready to preside over yet another franchise rebuild is not clear. But the Pacers have to rebuild with or without Bird at the helm.
Bird remains the only person in NBA history to win MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year honors.